“We encourage parents to teach, talk, and interact responsively and warmly with their children,” said Vilma Gomez, Spring ISD Family and Community Engagement Department parent practices coordinator.
Home instructors visit participating parents weekly in their homes to guide them in activities they can do with their children to help prepare them for school. While observing the child during their activities, the home instructor assesses their development in language, fine-and-gross motor, personal-and-social, and intellectual skills and lets parents know whether their child is progressing in those areas. When there are concerns about a child’s development, the home instructor can recommend resources to address those concerns early, and free screenings are available at campuses districtwide when requested.
“It is important to partner with our parents early and equip them with the supports needed to prepare all of our children for school,” said Dr. LaQuita Carter, Family and Community Engagement executive director. “We are committed to our communities and believe that in connecting with our families we are building a bridge from home to school through learning and caring for the whole child.”
The team uses curriculum developed by the nationally-recognized Parents as Teachers organization that has been in operation since 1981. Serving families with children age 18 months to four years old, instructors tailor their lessons and activities to meet the individual needs of the students.
Home Instructor Natalya Hogan meets weekly with Wendy Mendoza and her two children – Jonathan, who is almost four, and Julianna who is 18 months. Hogan sat on the playroom floor with the family where she demonstrated using playtime to work on fine motor skills. Little Julianna so enjoyed picking up bright-colored disks and placing them one at a time into a container that she wasn’t quite ready to stop and read a book, but the small book, which was just her size, soon captured her attention.
With literacy having been identified by the district as the very foundation for learning, this parent program further emphasizes its importance by providing books to families and modeling and encouraging reading in the home every day.
“I’ve learned that you don’t have to spend a lot of money for children to learn to be interactive with their parent,” Mendoza said. “You don’t have to be all fancy with the new technology that we have. Something as simple as small toys that can be put into a coffee can may be used to help them start learning colors and shapes.”
Mendoza believes that it is never too early for parents to start teaching their children and the home visits have enhanced her parenting skills. She would recommend it “100 percent” to other parents.
“It is very rewarding work,” said Gomez. “When you least expect it, a mom will say they have learned so much and their life is so different because of the program.”
For more information or to participate, call Spring ISD Family and Community Engagement at 281-891-6013.