I’ve only mentioned Parents as Teachers once on this blog and it was only in passing which is unfortunate because for the last 1.5 years this program has been integral in our lives. We started with Parents as Teachers on a recommendation from my cousin’s wife. She had used the program for both her children I believe, either that or she was just familiar with it from her own interest/involvement in early childhood education. We signed up when I was about 3-months pregnant and we finally got a spot about 2 months before Syd arrived. Our home-visits started then. Each Thursday at 5:30 Jacque (MA in early childhood education and social worker extraordinaire!) came over and we would discuss various things for thirty or so minutes. Before Sydney arrived we discussed our parenting expectations, our readiness, our family plans for emergencies. Once Sydney came it was all about her. She gave us ideas for things to do with her from the get-go; like a recommendation to print off black and white shapes and place them around the house.
The parent handouts and discussions on topics such as social-emotional development, special age expectations, motor development, intellectual development, and vision/hearing development were always helpful and timely. The milestone visits where Sydney’s development was ‘tested’ also gave us a sense of relief that everything was going ‘as normal’. And to a parent, especially a first time parent, there is nothing more satisfying than that confirmation.
I always looked forward to our visits. We would discuss things that Sydney achieved that week or maybe things that were bothering us as well. She gave us ideas for activities to do with Sydney and tracked how many books we read. At first Sydney was oblivious of Jacque, then apprehensive, and now she runs over and wants to know what activity we will do today.
Sadly, our time with PaT is ending. Jacque is the only home visitor in our area and her time is needed with other families that need her more. I understand that. I get that. But man I’ll miss these visits! These last few months, on our request, she has been bringing recommendations for websites and books to ‘help us along’ in her absence. The ideas for activities will always come in handy but nothing will replace that comfort of knowing Jacque is helping us identify gaps that need to be filled when it comes to Sydney’s development.
In a perfect world each parent would get (dare I say – have to have??!!) this opportunity but instead of it lasting 1 or 2 years it would last until the kid gets into kindergarten. However, Jacque’s program (Families Foremost) which runs the local PaT is losing money from the state and PaT is hanging on by a thin thread as well. Education in this country is not a priority and early childhood education is even lower. If I was a millionaire I know exactly where I would be giving my millions. Maybe someday…