New program helps parents become teachers

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PHOENIX -- Parents, you might not think about it, but the best teacher your child will ever have is actually you.

And one Valley school district is working with parents to make sure they have the tools they need to take on that job.

In the Cartwright School District last week, it was parents who were the students, learning how to be teachers.

It might sound a little confusing, but it is an idea the district hopes will add up to success.

“We feel strongly that the advantage of having parental engagement in our schools will make a huge difference in the future," said Superintendent Dr. Jacob Chavez.

Parents like Rosa Menjivar were taking part in the “You: Your Child's First Teacher” program.

“We need to take advantage of this opportunity," Menjivar said. "It is totally free. Here we are, learning."

“It is a program to help parents become more active in their children's lives,” said program author Sunny Chico. “Ninety-two percent of a child's life from birth through high school is spent in the home. Only 8 percent is spent in school."

To make sure children are spending that time wisely, this program teaches parents how to teach things schools can't.

“Teachers are very focused on providing instruction. But the social, the emotional, the health issues of the child are just as critical as the academic success of that child," Chico said.

Menjivar says some of the ideas may seem simple, but they set up kids with expectations of success.

“Telling the kids, 'You are going to college, and you need to do your bed, you need to do your dishes.' Give them a little bit of responsibility," Menjivar said.

Parent Roberto Arias says the classes also help parents work together.

“You go to school, and you walk by another parent and you don't know them, but at home they also have the same difficulties that we have with our kids," Arias said.

Chavez says they took up the program because parental involvement will be key to success.

“So, having the parents involved in this equation in education is critical," he explained.

And Menjivar says if she can be a better teacher for her children, she's ready to learn.

“This is going to help them to have a better life, good education," she said. "Positive things will come.”

Cartwright is just one district involved in the program. If you would like to know more and bring it up in your child’s district, you can get information here.