Parents Are a Child’s First and Most Important Teacher
Would you believe that bringing a free book or toy, working for 30 minutes with a parent and their child twice a week for 2 years increases graduation by 30% and results in a 50% reduction in the need for special education? Something so simple has tremendous impact on families! Loving parents care for their children in the best way they know how, but they may not know the power they have to help their children out of poverty. For one mother, playing with her child was all about tickling and peek-a-boo. “I didn’t know we could teach about colors and numbers so easily. Look at how much he knows now!” A loving parent, she just needed the opportunity to learn how be her child’s first teacher.
The majority of the families in our ParentChild+ program — 95% — live in extreme poverty. They get by on less than $16,000 per year. That is simply not enough to buy the educational toys and books that those with higher incomes take for granted. So we bring free books and educational toys to their homes and help parents — who may never have had a book read to them as children — learn how to make play a learning experience. Our home visitors model for parents ways to incorporate learning about shapes, colors, numbers, and more into their daily life. As parents and children learn together, family relationships are strengthened. Our program has shown a 133% improvement in parent-child bonds.
Closing the Achievement Gap
With their parents engaged as teachers and educational role models, children in this program don’t lag behind their middle- and upper-income peers. They start school equipped for success.
Graduates of our program:
- Enter kindergarten with skills an average of 10 months above their age.
- Are 50% better prepared for elementary school than low-income children who do not attend the program.
- Are less likely to need special education or remedial services.
- Are less likely to repeat a grade.
- Are more likely to graduate from high school.
- Have a higher lifelong income of $600,000 to $1,000,000 more than their peers who did not participate in the program.
Parents, too, close a gap in their education. Many are immigrant families who do not speak English at home. After experiencing success with their children, many are inspired to pursue their own educational goals, including ESL classes or obtaining their GED. In this way, our program supports entire families and our community as a whole.