"I want for my baby to be happy," said a pregnant mom.
"I want for her to be generous," said a teen mom.
"I want him to be successful," said a dad.
Each parent in the Growing Up Great classes has a different goal, but all of them want their kids to be successful. They are learning that their hopes and dreams for their children depend greatly on a universal principle - the better start in life children get, the more likely they are to succeed later in life.
Research shows that 90% of a child's brain is developed during the first five years of their life. To the surprise of many of the parents, the higher the quality of care and positive experiences that infants and toddlers have, the stronger their brain connections.
First Things First partners with parents and communities to support the early health and education of all young children, birth to five, in Arizona.
For example in Page and Hopi, the Growing Up Great community based classes, funded by First Things First, are building the capabilities of parents with children 5 and under, through practical parenting tips and interactive problem solving with other parents.
This week, three parents from Page and 14 parents from Hopi will complete the 7 week program, making a total of 69 to have participated to date. These moms and dads will receive their parent incentives: diapers, clothes, strollers, or even support to pay a bill. Many will be looking forward to the next series of classes set to start in early Fall.
"Parents in the current class are realizing that they are their child's first teacher and can do a lot to provide the tools that their kids need to reach their potential and attain the goals that they set for them," said Susie Yellowman n, parent educator in Page.
Through a series of 7 classes tailored to the parents and ages of their kids, the parents learn ways to support their children's early literacy, math, and social skills. Then during the last part of the class, they go over to the child care area to practice the skills they learned with their kids.
"How is he going to get there? Is it through education? To be somebody that will need to be outward and friendly?" Yellowman poses questions like these to help the parents ask themselves: what do I need to do or do with my child so that they can do well in school? "It all ties back to education for most of them. And by the seventh class, you can see the transformation - instead of looking at their kids while they play and thinking they are too young to understand me - they are playing with them and talking to them."
For more information about Growing Up Great, contact the Association for Supportive Childcare at (928) 714-1716. For more information about First Things First visit azftf.gov/Coconino or call (928) 637-0416.
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