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Parents as Teachers gets under way

By Staff
First-time parents, children under five targeted by program
By CHRISTINA HALE
Staff Writer
Parents as Teachers, a voluntary family education and support program for parents of young children, is making its debut in Beaufort and Hyde counties.
Child Connections, a resource and referral agency for families in Beaufort and Hyde counties, offers Parents as Teachers to 20 families in Beaufort County and 10 families in Hyde County, said Child Connections Director Beverly Marslender.
The program is based on beliefs that parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers and that children’s early years build the foundation for their successes in school and life, according to the North Carolina Parents as Teachers Web site.
Parents as Teachers provides personal visits with a certified Parents as Teachers educator, parental group meetings about early childhood development and parenting, developmental and health screenings for young children and linkages and referrals to community networks and resources.
Jackie Boyd, the Parents as Teachers educator working with Child Connections, will visit a participating family at least once a month, depending on the personal needs of that family’s child.
During a visit, Boyd will use innovative activities and books designed to help the child develop language, intellect, social skills and motor skills. Boyd has boxes of age-appropriate activities to use with parents and their children, with most of those activities including items made from household materials.
Parents must be present and participate during the visits so that they may continue to work with their child. Boyd said a lot of parents aren’t sure what to do, and the Parents as Teachers program explain what to do and why.
“Every time, I leave information for the parents so they can learn more,” she said.
Parents and children are required to attend six meetings each year.
Children who participate in Parents as Teachers are significantly more advanced in language, social development, problem-solving and other cognitive abilities by age 3 than other children, according to the Parents as Teachers National Center’s Web site. They also score higher on kindergarten readiness tests, according to the Web site.
To apply for the Parents as Teachers program in Beaufort County, call 975-4647. Parents in Hyde County should call 926-5611.