When the twins were just a few months old, I ran into an old acquaintance of mine who suggested that I get involved with Yavapai County's Parents as Teachers program. She worked for the program as a Parent Educator and had room for one more family. Initially I thought, "well I don't need that! I'm an educator myself and have taken a ton of child development classes." My friend encouraged me to give it a try, adding that families of all types, sizes and socioeconomic standing within the County participated and found it rewarding; plus it would be FREE!
Now, one year later, I look forward with great enthusiasm to the bi-weekly visits from our Parent Educator. The program is simple, but indeed rewarding. The Teachers As Parents mission is to provide the information, support and encouragement parents need to help their children develop optimally during the crucial early years of life. Every time my Parent Educator comes, the twins are so excited to see her and have a visitor. She brings fun activities to do with them such as making a shape sorter out of a large cottage cheese container, creating a fun flip book with stickers. Each activity is age appropriate and encourages some new skill that the kids are or should be working towards. In addition, she leaves information about the stages of growth that my children are in. I've found these informational sheets to be fantastic, as they give me clues on what I should be looking for in both their current stage and the one to come.
Another thing my Parent Educator and I work on is setting goals. I come up with goals, such as weaning the twins from one more feeding a day, working on my husband putting the twins to bed; these are simple goals that she can offer advice on as I work towards them. My Parent Educator and I check in on the progress of these goals every six months and then set new ones as needed.
I think the best thing about this program is that as a mostly stay-at-home mom, I get to check in with an adult in my home every two weeks. This person is dedicated to me and my family being healthy and happy and is there for me to bounce ideas off of. I have used the Parents as Educators program to help me become a more confident mother. I've asked my parent educator about what types of foods I should start with, how to begin weaning (something I just can't do!), how to cope with my twins growing older and leaving that oh-so precious baby phase.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not solely dependent on this program, but it is a nice bridge between asking my friends and family for advice and asking the pediatrician. I plan on remaining enrolled in this program to the very end, when the twins turn five years old. Even though I do many activities with them and we have a blast together, it's nice to have a sounding board who offers encouragement and has a wealth of resources to bring to the table.
The Parents as Teachers program is offered throughout Yavapai County and is a free service supported by the First Things First Yavapai Regional Partnership.
If you want to learn more about the program and curriculum, go to www.parentsasteachers.org
NOVEMBER 8th was National Parents As Teachers Day! - This year they celebrated their 30th anniversary!