LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — For young children, socialization and early learning opportunities are key for their development, but the pandemic has turned that into a challenge.
Leander Independent School District’s Parents as Teachers program had to shut down and move online when the pandemic first started.
It’s a free early education program for families focusing on child development and school readiness skills.
“Whether that be zoom or a phone call we continued to connect with families,” said Erin Garner, Early Childhood Coordinator for Leander ISD.
Recently those much-needed social interactions are happening again. Parents and their kids have returned to an outdoor space at the facility.
“It is a hidden gem,” said Sabina Peerbhai, a parent in the program.
Children up to 5 years old spend time with their parents and other children learning new things each day.
“There is no safer, closer and influential relationship than the parent child,” Garner said.
Peerbhai and her daughter use the time to read books, play in the garden or just learn to socialize with other kids her age.
“It is somewhere for us to go and something for them to explore,” Peerbhai said.
“This program gave me a lot of support,” said Autumn Hebert, who has two boys in the program.
Parents are able to share tips with each other about parenting. Teachers in the program also reach on a regular basis. Before the pandemic, they would hold in-home visits.
“Last spring, it was about what resources do you need?” said Garner. “How is your family doing? Really checking on a family’s wellbeing.”
Personal visits are a time once a month when a parent-educator meets with the family in their home or at the center. During this time, both the parent and parent-educator share their knowledge around the child’s development.
Leander ISD’s Parents as Teachers website explains more about the program and how to sign up.