Parents as Teachers holds training session

As students and teachers get ready to head back to class, one group of experts is making sure parents have what they need to succeed. A special training session was held at the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center in Greenbush today to do just that.

The people in today's session are education specialists who will be working in homes with kids and their parents. Each of the educators we spoke with today say it's a special feeling to be able to help these kids succeed. But for one woman, the work done by parents as teachers has a very special meaning.

"We were doing early identification of my son, which we later found out that he is a high functioning autistic, and it was really important getting that information, getting those tools, learning more how I could help him and become an advocate for him,” says Denise Dorcey.

Denise Dorcey is paying it forward as a parent educator with Parents as Teachers. Lori Johnson says that means they work one on one with the kids and their parents.

"Basically I visit families in the home that have children prenatal clear up to six years of age,” says Lori Johnson.

Why in the home? Southeast Kansas Education Service Center Early Childhood Director Cassandra Elsworth says that's because it's where kids are most comfortable.

"In the home they have access to their own toys, their own materials, we know what they have available so that parents can continue the activities,” says Cassandra Elsworth.

Johnson says the parent educators will work with families on things like helping a child get ready for school. But the work goes beyond that. In other words, if it could play a role in your child's success, they're there to help.

"If the family is having trouble with getting their child to sleep all night, then we work on strategies to get that child to sleep,” says Lori Johnson.

And while the goal is helping kids be successful in school, parent educator Dacia White says that all starts with making sure mom and dad have the tools they need.

"Without the parent they're not going to learn how to trust the world, they're not going to know that they're going to be fed when they're hungry, or put to bed when they're tired, or somebody to play with them when they're bored,” says Dacia White.

Because parents can make the best teachers.

"We know that parents know their children best, and what we're really there to do is help educate them on how they can work with their children. That's who they're going to learn from,” says Cassandra Elsworth.

And Elsworth says the partnership has lead to success in the classroom.

"Families that have been enrolled in the program score higher in a lot of different levels, including engagement, but also less chance of needing special education services when entering school,” says Elsworth.

These services are available, free of charge, in nearly every school district. To find out more, contact your school district's administrative office.

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