Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Parent Educator's Role

Someone once asked my daughter what my job was. Without skipping a beat, and with a hint of disdain, my kid said, "She gets paid to play with other people's kids!"

She was only partly correct.

A parent educator's role is unique. Carrying a background in early childhood development, I am to educate and inspire families to understand how important their role is in the lives of their children.

From the very moment a baby is born, his or her brain is ready to learn. Some things like eating and crying, are learned easily, but other things like sharing or potty training are much more challenging to learn.

How does a child learn these all these things? Honestly? These concepts, and essentially everything are learned through experiences. Who's in charge of creating experiences? Parents are. They design the child's world.

That's why I believe that parents are their child's first and most important teacher.

Think about all the thing children learn long before that first day of school. We might think of that preschool or kindergarten teacher as the first educator in our children's lives, but that isn't so. Parents  teach children how to walk, eat, dress and talk.

Picture a baby and what they know when they are born. In regards to language, infants know nothing but by the time they enter school the average child knows 80% of all the vocabulary they will ever use in their entire lives!

Amazing, right?

They go from crying and unable to speak a single syllable to forming complete sentences. That is a lot learning before the first day of school.

And that's only language development. Children grow socially, emotionally and physically as well.

This is why parents are important.
This is also why parents need to think of themselves as teachers.

Parent educators encourage families in this very important job so that children have the best possible chance for a successful school career.

As a parent educator, I work very hard to make sure that parents understand how their children learn, at what age they are ready to learn new skills and give ideas on ways to play or interact with children that strengthen brain development.

I've worked with a lot of mom in my 17 years as a parent educator and every single one, regardless of social status or location in life, all want the same thing for their child; we all want our children to be successful and happy. In order to help our children, we need to understand that what we do as parents, especially in the first five years of life, are critical to a children's development.

And that's why my daughter thinks all I do is play. Babies can't do worksheets and flashcards, right? It is while playing with blocks they learn early math skills, or sitting in circle time they practice getting along with others.

That's why I spend a lot of my time hosting playgroups, parenting classes, family fun nights and parent child activities. These events are designed to help parents with you children offer learning experiences for their children.

I mean somebody has to get down on the floor and play, why shouldn't it be me? Best job ever? I think so! Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!

This article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for the Review Atlas. I am a mother to five children and work for the Monmouth-Roseville school district. All of my events are open to local families free of charge. For questions or comments please email me at

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