Regina Ingle has worked for Topeka Public Schools in the Parents as Teachers (PAT) department as a bilingual certified parent educator since March of 2005. Parents as Teachers is an early childhood home visiting program designed to help parents learn more about parenting, child development and share information about resources in the community. In addition to making home visits Ingle leads a bilingual (Spanish and English) playgroup. If you are interested in PAT or any of their playgroups please call 274-6480 or find them www.facebook.com/topekaparentsasteachers.
“I have noticed that parents don’t think of themselves as ‘teachers,’ but parents do teach their children various things throughout their lives: how to hold a bottle, how to walk, talk, eat with a spoon, sit down, go to bed, manners, colors, etc. PAT teaches parents do those things in a fun way. We specifically focus on four skills: language, cognitive, social emotional and fine and gross motor. We also do developmental screenings every six months to see how the child is growing. Screenings are important because it shows if the child is developing typically for their age and it can help spot any concerns, we refer the child if there is a concern.
When I started in 2005 there was not a bilingual playgroup, I’m very proud that we started one. Both English and Spanish speaking parents attend, and attendance has grown. We sing songs and read books in both languages, at the beginning of the playgroup we sing “Hello Friend/Hola Amigo.” The song says to greet your “friend” and children are learning to not be afraid and move around with their parent to other children and extend their hand to greet their friends. The “Good-bye Friends/Adios Amigos,” helps the children learn that it’s the end of the playgroup and its time to say goodbye. English speaking children have learned to say “Adiós” and Spanish speaking children have learned to say “Good-bye. We read books both in Spanish and English. Even though the books are not translated into Spanish, I translate them myself. I wanted the Spanish speaking families to also hear and enjoy what the different book says about the different themes of the week.
Children with their parent learn the transition of putting toys away, before we read a book and then wash our hands to eat a snack. Children are encouraged to choose a snack and have the opportunity to say “thank you” or “gracias.” The one advice that I received when my son was born is that children grow very fast. But be prepare to hold or carry your baby everywhere you go, at least until they turn one. They have been with you for nine months, and they still need you and/or dad to comfort them. Our playgroup has an area specially for babies up to 12 months that parents can play, it is a good area for tummy time and starting to crawl.”
When I was a parent of a four-year-old sometimes I would be frustrated in the morning. I was running late to work because my child would not wear what I wanted him to wear. If someone would have told me then to have him choose from two things that were appropriate, I would have empowered him in making his decision. It would have made life easier at home. But there are other things that are more important than that. Discipline was a tough area for me. For me learning self-control was very tough. With this experience I have learned and inform parents that after a stressful incident of a temper tantrum we should close the circle with a with a hug and kiss and tell our children that we still love them, it’s just their behavior that we don’t like.”