JOPLIN, Mo. — An early childhood development program not only prepares little ones for academic success, but gives parents the tools to help their child succeed during the developmental years from birth to Kindergarten.

The free program is called “Parents as Teachers” (PAT) which exists throughout cities across the country, including Joplin.

Offered through the Joplin School District, PAT provides an early childhood home visiting program as one of their main services, which is always carried out by a parent educator.

“With this particular service, age appropriate information is brought to your home, based on your child’s age and activity. The items brought are for you to do with your child, and then a parent educator will do their best to answer any parenting questions, which cover a wide range of topics such as sleep, behavior, potty training, different things like that,” said Joplin Parents as Teachers Program Coordinator, Kerri Clouse.

Joplin PAT also offers free developmental screenings, which takes a look at where your child lands when compared to other little ones that are of the same age.

“Parents as Teachers exists to make sure that Pre-K children are on right on track. We also take a look at their strengths, and we look to see if there are any areas where maybe a little more practice is required, and we give parents ideas of things that they can do at home to support the growth and development of their child or children,” stated Clouse.

The Parents as Teachers program, Clouse said, is very important for parents to explore even before their child is born.

“Our program is so critical because 80% of brain development happens within the first three years of life, and that continues through year five. We want to make the most impact, and it’s best to do that the younger we start, such as one month or two months after the child is born. Starting from those early days and weeks as a newborn, studies show we’re impacting that child’s brain development for all future learning, and so that’s why our program is so important.”

Currently, PAT has nearly 350 families that they serve within the Joplin area, just with home visits, alone.

Overall, Joplin Parents as Teachers impacts between 600 and 700 children with the program’s various services, all of which are offered for free.

Kerri Clouse, Joplin Parents as Teachers Program Coordinator

If you would like more information on the Joplin Parents as Teachers program, you can visit their website HERE, or check out their Facebook Page, HERE.

You can also contact the PAT Program Coordinator, Kerri Clouse, at (417) 208-2069.