Tag Archives: education

The Helping Relationship: A Foundation for Families’ School Readiness

by Amy De La Hunt

As back-to-school season ramps up, parents are busy shopping for supplies, coordinating physicals, figuring out school day schedules – and, squeezed in among all these responsibilities, maybe doing a few more fun summer activities. Meanwhile, teachers are organizing their classrooms, preparing lesson plans, attending orientations and learning who they’ll have as students.

Woman_Girl_Painting_smThese two busy worlds intersect soon (if they haven’t already) as the teacher reaches out to welcome new students and their families. It’s easy to overlook the importance of this little message and parents’ response to it, but research shows that developing positive lines of communication now can set the tone for a successful home-school partnership the rest of the year.

Children’s transition to school is most successful when their parents and teachers are interconnected. In fact, the more information about their child parents share with the school, the more they influence the school’s ability to educate their child.

Parents know many things about their child the teacher doesn’t:

  • Their history, including life-shaping events and special personal relationships.
  • Their temperament, habits, likes and dislikes.
  • The family’s culture and practices, including caregiving routines, communication styles, beliefs about learning, and expectations for the future.
  • The extended family structure.

Teachers, for their part, hold the crystal ball that gives parents a peek into:

  • What the child will be learning during the coming year.
  • What day-to-day classroom life will look like.
  • Which other specialists and educators will impact the child’s learning.
  • How the school’s routines will play out over the weeks and months ahead.

If all of this sounds familiar to parent educators, there’s good reason. The helping relationship parent educators and families develop is based on a mutual sharing of information, observations and goals related to the child – which mirrors the relationship parents will build with their child’s classroom teacher. Within PAT, the child’s path toward school readiness within PAT parallels the family’s growth and development that better prepares them to be effective partners with their child’s school and teachers.

Parents and classroom teachers need not do a huge brain dump right now, when everything feels so frenetic. There’ll be plenty of time to discover each other’s communication preferences, ask questions and set goals once the backpacks are purchased and the bulletin boards are filled. Instead, both sides can star with expressing their sincere desire to partner in the learning process. Thanks to the groundwork laid by parent educators, PAT families can be confident they have the tools needed for this new relationship.

Amy De La Hunt is Curriculum Development Manager for Parents as Teachers.
Some of the material in this post first appeared in the PAT curriculum
We’re Going to School! A Parent Involvement Approach to School Transitions, available from the estore.


Is 90 the new 85?

The good news is that we’re living longer. A new Census Bureau Report commissioned by the National Institutes of Health predicts that by 2050, 9 million Americans will be 90 years or older. And if you make it to 90, chances are good you’ll see another 4 1/2 more years. Whew!

The not-so-good news?

  • Almost 20% of those 90-94 years old live in a nursing home.
  • 85% have physical limitations; two-thirds have difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
  • Their annual median income is just $14,760.

The average American has about 40 working years to earn enough to support himself and his family, send his children to college, and save enough to to live (possibly in a nursing home) for the 30 years after retirement.

Getting the education tomorrow’s jobs will require is essential. Early childhood programs like Parents as Teachers give kids a leg up by screening for hearing/vision/developmental delays and assessing their social-emotional readiness to learn. 

Don’t your children deserve that?

Creative Commons photo credit top and bottom.

Your professional development starts here.

For more than 25 years, Parents as Teachers has worked to make education more successful. We strive to prepare children for the jobs of the future and continue to help parents, schools and communities come together to do the same. With our November conference, we look forward to sharing ideas, strategies and yes, inspiration with you.

Parents as Teachers is the gateway to the education continuum. Your work lays the foundation for what is to come. But you can’t do it alone.

Susan Neuman

This year, our conference features the insight of Susan Neuman and the inspiration of Bill Strickland.

Bill Strickland

From Neuman’s knowledge on how to improve children’s achievement, to Strickland’s visionary social programs, we will explore together how to nurture support for early childhood education.

Throughout this conference you will rediscover the practical with workshops on bookmaking, fundraising, car seat safety and more…and uncover your potential as you learn what makes an outstanding home visitor. Learn how community-based early childhood education plans are uniting with Parents as Teachers to advance the success of early childhood education. And learn from and network with other early childhood partners from across the country and around the globe.

Listen carefully to our keynote speakers and workshop presenters. Support our exhibitors who help make this conference possible. Have a good time conversing with other early childhood professionals and soak in the abundance of new information and resources offered here.

But most of all, support us by being a part of this international discussion positionoing early childhood as the gateway to the education continuum.


What advice would you give?

Everyone seems to have advice for the president-elect; Parents as Teachers National Center is no exception (see previous posts here).


But Maffitt McDonald, a freshman at McCluer High School in St. Louis, had some especially perceptive insight recently. He was one of the finalists in an essay contest for high school students sponsored by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, STLtoday.com and Lindenwood University. Students were asked to write about what they would change if they were president, and while most suggested the economy, health care reform, energy consumption, Maffitt wrote a particularly articulate argument to focus the nation’s efforts on education above all else.


“If the public is uneducated, they make bad decisions which will have a large impact on the economic status of America,” he writes. He offers the president-elect a three-point plan: implement a huge media campaign; require high school diplomas for employment; and offer parenting classes to teach children how to be good parents.


Listen to all the finalists read their essays (Maffitt’s essay begins about a minute into the video), then let us know what you think the new president should do first.

Go vote now; it will make you feel big and strong.

By Jane Callahan

As I’ve watched the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates over the past month—and especially the post-game analysis afterward—I have tried to tune into different TV stations.  Last night I watched the debate on CNN that included a real time graphing of the reactions of Ohio undecided voters.  This reminded me of those long ago talent or beauty contests where the host would put his hand over the  contestants’ heads and the audience would applaud for the one they liked the best.  Granted, this graphing is much more sophisticated but it is essentially the same idea.

The candidates got especially high marks during the discussion of education!  Senator Obama specifically raised up early childhood education as a core component of his overall education plan.  And Senator McCain discussed his interest in looking more closely at Head Start with the goal of improving services.  Senator Obabma also talked about the importance of adequate government funding for education programs – including those serving children with special needs.  It was very affirming to hear the candidates discuss these education-related issues during their last debate.

For me, the debate’s frosting on the cake was Bob Schieffer’s closing comment: “Go vote now… it will make you feel big and strong.”