The First Teacher

When asked about the most influential teacher in your life, who would you choose? Many of us have clear memories of that person. At Neighborhood House, we see parents as that most important teacher.

At home, parents set a baseline for education. They have an opportunity to instill a curiosity and love of learning that will stay with their children for the rest of their lives. To support parents in the very central role they play in their children’s education, we partner with the entire family to help children learn essential classroom and social skills like recognizing their ABCs, sharing, making friends, and holding a pencil with a three-point grip.

Some of this is done in our preschool classrooms, but other skills are more readily developed when reinforced at home. An education veteran, and program manager for Parent & Early Childhood Education at Neighborhood House, Amanda Williams has seen how crucial parents are to their children’s development: “The things parents can teach their children at home are not only influential, they’re life-changing. When parents take an active role in their child’s education they encourage them to be more interested in learning and are connecting with their child in a more intentional way. When you sit down with your child and work on an ABC puzzle, that’s a very different interaction than when you’re trying to get them to clean up their toys or go to bed.”

Home visits are tailored to meet the needs of each individual student and their families, in the classroom and beyond. With many parents in the process of learning English themselves, learning exercises are offered that give parents and their children an opportunity to practice developing skills in the comfort of home. When possible, these activities are offered in English and the primary language of the household. “One of the ways that children become kindergarten ready is by learning English, but we also want parents to know that we value their children learning their family’s native language – we want them to know that we support them passing on their language, heritage and culture” says Williams.

To some, parenting is “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” Kids are messy, confusing, and most of the time — delightful. Regardless of where they come from, whether it’s Laos, Mexico, Ethiopia, Russia, Somalia, Myanmar, or Peru — all parents want the very best for their children. At Neighborhood House, our Parent Education program helps empower parents to provide educational support for their children at all stages of early development.

Anders Ringdahl-Mayland


Anders Ringdahl-Mayland