Parents as Teachers

— Written By Brenda Currie and last updated by

This year, N.C. Cooperative Extension is celebrating 100 years of providing the citizens of NC with information based on scientific research that helped them to improve their lives. N.C. Cooperative Extension has worked with farmers, businesses, homemakers and youth. Parents As Teachers is also celebrating a milestone this year in NC. They have been providing support and parent education to NC families for 25 years.

In the 1970’s educators in Missouri saw that many children were starting school with various levels of readiness. Research showed that parental involvement was a critical link in the child’s development of learning skills that included reading and writing. Early childhood professionals felt that a program which would help to provide early detection of health issues and developmental delays in young children along with parent education which assisted parents in understanding their role in encouraging their children’s development from the very beginning of life would help improve school readiness as well as the parent’s involvement.

In 1981, the idea of helping parents embrace their role as being their child’s first and best teacher was developed, and Parents As Teachers began as a pilot program for first-time parents of newborns in four school districts. The legislation in Missouri recognized the benefits and the cost effectiveness of the program and in 1985 provided state funding so that all the school districts could implement the PAT program. It is now an international early learning program that operates in all 50 states and in six other countries.

In 1988, the first PAT program was implemented in NC by Rutherford County schools. In 1999, Parents As Teachers and Hoke County Cooperative Extension began a partnership that has lasted fifteen years. PAT was implemented in Hoke County through a grant received from Hoke County Partnership for Children and Families/Smart Start. In 2005, a bilingual parent educator was hired to serve the growing Spanish speaking population of the county

What is Parents As Teachers? PAT is an early learning and family support program for parents with children prenatal to 5 years of age. It helps parents lay a solid foundation for their child’s future success by providing valuable information to help parents give the best possible start in life to their child. The program is based on the truths that the parents are the first and most influential teachers of their child’s life and the early years lay the foundation for the child’s success in school and in life.

Certified parent educators provide timely evidenced-based information on child development and neuroscience research. Parent educators translate scientific information on brain development into concrete suggestions on ways to teach and nurture your child and helps parents to gain the knowledge and skills to make the most of the crucial early learning years. PAT promotes parent-child activities that encourage language development, intellectual growth, social-emotional development and motor skills.

Parents As Teachers is available to all families who have a child prenatal to five years of age who live in Hoke County regardless of other services that you may receive. It is a free, voluntary and a flexible year-round program where the parent educator comes to you. We also have a bilingual parent educator who can provide services to the Spanish speaking families of the county.

If you are interested in the Parents As Teachers Program, please contact us at (910) 875-2000 or stop by the N.C. Cooperative Extension office at 116 West Prospect Avenue located beside Turlington School.

Parents As Teachers is funded by Smart Start and administered by the N.C. Cooperative Extension – Hoke County Center.