Families & Communities


Texas IDRA PIRC Connections: Parents As Teachers (PAT)

Parents as Teachers (PAT) is an early childhood parent education and family support program designed to help all parents give their children the best possible start in life.

The Parent as Teachers Support System
This home-school-community partnership provides parents with information in child development from age birth to 5 and suggests learning opportunities that encourage language and intellectual growth, physical and social skills. Parents as Teachers is a voluntary primary prevention program that offers the following.

Personal Visits – Personalized home visits by certified parent educators, trained in child development, help parents understand what to expect in each stage of their child’s development, and offer practical ways to encourage learning, manage challenging behavior, and promote strong parent-child relationships.

Group Meetings – Parents get together to gain new insights and to share their experiences, common concerns and successes. Group meetings also provide families the opportunity to participate in parent-child activities.

Screening – Parents as Teachers offers periodic screening of overall development, language, hearing and vision. The goal is to provide early detection of potential problems to prevent difficulties later in school.

Resource Network – Families are helped to access other community services that are beyond the scope of the Parents as Teachers program.

Evaluation Findings
Numerous independent evaluations have shown the following results for families participating in Parents as Teachers.

  • PAT children at age 3 are significantly more advanced than comparison children in language, problem solving and other cognitive abilities and social development.
  • PAT parents are more involved in their children’s schooling?— parental involvement is highly related to a child’s success in school.
  • The positive impact on PAT children carries over into the elementary school years; PAT children score higher on kindergarten readiness tests and standardized measures of reading, math and language in early grades.
  • PAT parents are confident in their parenting skills and knowledge; they read more to their child – a key factor in preparing children for school success.


Adaptability is the key to the success of Parents as Teachers. While it is a national model with cutting-edge curriculum and a professional training program, it is truly a local program. As shown in the findings of Parents as Teachers evaluation studies and lessons learned from the field, the program is adaptable to the needs of broadly diverse families, cultures and special populations.

Parents as Teachers programs are part of many Even Start and other federal Title I programs, as well as Early Head Start and Head Start. Parents as Teachers in the Child Care Center enhances the quality of infant/toddler care and the parent-caregiver relationship. Parents as Teachers for Teen Parents offers instruction and guidance to help teen parents with the difficult challenge of raising a child. Corporations offer Parents as Teachers for employees as an investment in the present and future workforce.

Program funding is often a combination of federal, state, and local dollars, and private monies. Federal funds include Goals 2000, Title I, Even Start and Head Start.

Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc.
The Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc., is a not-for-profit organization that provides Parents as Teachers training and technical assistance, certification of Parents as Teachers parent educators, curriculum and materials development and adaptation, research and evaluation coordination, and international conferences. The center also engages in public policy initiatives that promote family support and parent education.

Born to Learn Curriculum
Through collaboration with neuroscientists from the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, the Parent as Teachers National Center, Inc., has developed the Born to Learn curriculum. Combining neuroscience information on how a baby’s brain develops and expertise from early childhood educators, the Born to Learn curriculum translates neuroscience research into concrete advice that supports parents in giving their children the best possible start in life. This neuroscience-infused curriculum includes detailed monthly, bi-weekly and weekly personal visit plans, child development information for parents, suggested parent-child activities and resource materials for parent educators and parents. It also features, for the first time, a 16-part video series keyed to specific personal visit plans. The Born to Learn curriculum became the standard PAT Prenatal to Three curriculum in 1999.

Parents as Teachers Training
The Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc., provides institutes at specified locations throughout the United States and on-site by special arrangement.

National Honors
Parents as Teachers has received numerous national honors. It received the 1997 APPLE Pie award in recognition for support of parent involvement in education from Working Mother magazine, Partnership for Family Involvement in Education and Teachers College, Columbia University. It was also accepted into the U.S. Department of Education National Diffusion Network in 1991, signifying that the program had provided convincing evidence of its effectiveness.

Elaine Shiver, director, Parents as Teachers Program, Mental Health Association in Texas, 5952 Royal Lane, Suite 261, Dallas, Texas 75230, phone 214/363-8661, fax 214/363-8664, e-mail: txpat@txpat.org, web site: www.txpat.org.