First Parents as Teachers Home Visit

Parents as Teachers Home Visits: A free, one-on-one program that guides you in helping your baby reach their developmental milestones.

I planned to write about our first Parents at Teachers home visit before it even happened, especially because of how nervous I felt. I had no idea what to expect, so I wanted to share with other moms in the same situation what actually happens when a school district official shows up at your house for some one-on-one time.

The night before, I voiced my excitement (and anxiety) on Facebook and asked if there was anything I should do to prep for the visit. I quickly received some reassuring responses:

If my memory serves me correctly — and my kids are 22 and 19 — your PAT person will ask you a lot of question to get help her (or him?) get to know you and your child. PAT is a wonderful resource!

Just make a list if you have any questions. If you don’t, no worries. And if it’s like the old days, you get a notebook to keep the notes your PAT person takes at each session. It’s a treasure to look back and remember what your kid was doing at certain stages. So much you don’t remember, unless you are a faithful journal keeper.

Just enjoy, it’s wonderful!

It is such a great resource. Just be honest with them, & journal what you can. It is a great way to keep up with progress made. They’ll ask a bunch of questions at the start, it’ll probably be a bit overwhelming… But don’t worry. They’ll also give lots of helpful tips, & very useful handouts. Good luck on this exciting journey!

Nevertheless, I enlisted my husband’s help in tidying up the house. I imagined crazy scenarios of our Parent Educator calling child protective services because there was too much dog hair on the floor. Luckily, Sirius was very well behaved (from his crate) during the visit, and the only rooms she actually saw were our entryway and the playroom. I’m a little sad she didn’t scope out Baby’s nursery, the one room in our house that was completely put together. Oh well.

The visit came and went, and immediately afterwards I felt like I had nothing to write about. She came, she watched Baby play for an hour, we talked about his actual and expected development at 10 months old, and she left us with some “homework.” Pretty anticlimactic. Not the type of thing to fill up a whole post.

Yet when I later told my husband about the visit, more and more things came back to me, and I kept adding additional notes to what was previously a short homework list. I think my mind drew an initial blank out of information overload. I still have a thick stack of handouts our educator left behind to read through, but I’m planning to wait and read through those later this week with a clear head (and a big cup of coffee).

Our homework was a list of activities to do with Baby to help foster and observe his developmental growth. Most of it focused on language acquisition, but in different ways than I had previously heard of. Up until now, I engaged in parallel talk and self talk (two new terms my Parent Educator taught me). I knew that Baby has to hear a word to be able to learn it, and that the more words he’s exposed to the better his vocabulary will be. However, the new words need to be heard in the context of what Baby was doing (aka watching TV or listening to radio won’t have the same effect). Thus, I would often narrate whatever I was doing (self talk) or what Baby was exploring (parallel talk).

Parallel and self talk are awesome, but I hadn’t taken the next step to check if Baby was actually starting to understand what different words mean. He responds to his name and to Baby (surprise, surprise), and I think he understands “no” and “uh-uh” (which we say instead of no to our dog (long story)… and sometimes to Baby, too. It just slips out).

Our homework was to focus on observing what words Baby actually understands, and our Parent Educator gave me about some helpful assessment tools, most of which were also great for promoting physical development, too:

Named nouns. Baby should start to attach words to people or things, like Mama, Daddy, puppy, and ball. We can assess whether he’s learned these words by asking questions like “Where’s Mama?” and seeing if he will look or gesture in my direction to show understanding.

Follow Directions. Another way that Baby can show understanding is by following directions, like asking him to wave hello or goodbye, clap his hands, play pattycake or peekaboo, or reach up high when asked, “How big’s the baby?” Baby would show his understanding by doing these motions in response to only a verbal prompt. If he doesn’t, I should then model the motion while saying the words. If he still stares at me blankly, I should hold his hands or arms to help him do the motion and connect it to the word. That last one might not work so well… Baby HATES it when I try to move his hands or arms for him.

Use Key Phrases. Our Parent Educator told me to use the same phrase every time I give a direction, so that Baby will learn to associate the phrase with the direction and then quickly understand what he’s supposed to do. The example she used was for teaching him how crawl down stairs or get off of a couch by himself: “Turn around, feet first.” She advised for me to pick a phrase while teaching him to do these things and then stick with it so that I can just call it out and Baby will know exactly what to do.

Mimic. I’m used to mimicking Baby, repeating back his babbles to him whenever he feels like chatting with me. It has always felt like a fine line between encouraging him to talk and using baby talk in place of real words (which I had read was bad to do), so it was nice to have some guidance on this. Our Parent Educator encouraged me to flip the pattern, and try to get Baby to talk in conversation with me by initiating with some nananas or dadadas or, most importantly, mamamas. This should prompt him to talk back to me (err… the good kind of talking back). Talking this way is different from baby talk, because it doesn’t use incorrect words for things (i.e. baba for bottle), but rather encourages Baby to learn how to make sounds and practice conversational behaviors.

Put Things Back. My sweet godzilla baby loves to knock things down and remove toys and whatnot from drawers, bins, cabinets, and anywhere else he can reach. The next step will be for him to start putting things back into the toy box, the farm animals back into the tractor bed, and stacking the blocks to make mini towers all by himself. Putting round objects into round containers is another way to practice this (i.e. putting a tennis ball into a pringles can). By encouraging this particular developmental milestone, I am hoping to be rewarded with a little helper who loves to put things away. Let me dream.

Baby is actively crawling and pulling up, and starting to stand alone for a second or two and cruise. His next big leap will be walking, which I am both excited for and dreading simultaneously. Baby’s other physical and cognitive developments on the horizon will be gaining more control of his fingers and arms, so that he is able to actually clap, wave, play peekaboo, and pick things up using his pincer grasp. He won’t be able to follow directions if he is physically unable to do the requested movements. We’re getting there. Baby will turn off the lights in his room before naps and bedtime and give me a high five on command, so with a little more practice I’m sure he’ll make the other connections soon.

Overall, the visit was really fun and informative. We will have 10-12 visits a year, but we started late because I thought I couldn’t sign up until Baby was six months old, when really it was that we had to sign up by the time he was six months old (we could have signed up when I was still pregnant). We just made it, but there was still at four month long waiting list. These rules are for my school district, and they only apply for home visits (each school district could be different). All kids aged zero to three are welcome at our Parents as Teachers Play Center regardless of when families sign up. I definitely recommend registering for Parents as Teachers through your local school district. Be sure to check them out sooner rather than later to maximize your support and resources!

What have you learned from your Parents as Teachers home visit(s)? Would you recommend the program to other families?

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7 thoughts on “First Parents as Teachers Home Visit

  1. Tamara

    I totally dwelled on you having a dog named Sirius! That is so awesome. A black dog?
    I have never heard of Parents as Teachers until today.
    My son was a very late walker and I know at one point I thought I’d have to call someone.. just anyone. However he was just cautious about it at first.
    This looks so awesome. I have little ones at home!
    Tamara recently posted…It’s My SITS Day, Part 2!My Profile

  2. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

    I’ve never heard of Parents As Teachers! It sounds like an exceptional program!

    I had to giggle at your anxious preparations! I’m always a basket case as I prepare for the home visit from our homeschool mentor teacher.

    Thanks for sharing… this really sounds awesome!

    Wishing you a lovely evening.
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…Keeping It RealMy Profile

  3. Debra Browning

    I used to be a Parent Educator before deciding to stay home with my children. I absolutely adored my job and my families taught me just as much as I taught them. Although I am still technically certified, I still call upon some former co-workers to help me with my own children! Parents As Teachers is an incredible program, and it literally changed my life in countless ways. If anyone wants more information or to find a program in their area, they can go to I’m so glad you had a wonderful experience! Your Parent Educator will truly become part of your family as they rejoice with you at each new stage and help you through the difficult ones, as well as give you wonderful ideas for play and learning. Enjoy!!

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