The Importance of Parent-Child Interaction
All children’s first years should be filled with verbal stimulation to build language and literacy skills. Each day should be full of discovery and offer opportunities to gain new skills and learn new concepts. Fostering verbal interaction between parents and their young children is a critical component of healthy and successful development (Bruner, 1964 and 1966; Vygotsky 1962). The importance of this interaction has been further validated by the brain and language development research (Hart & Risley). Formative research on The Parent-Child Home Program’s 1965 pilot project (then The Mother-Child Home Program) affirmed that this critical parent-child interaction could be strengthened by modeling reading, play, and conversation for parents and children in their own homes (Levenstein and Sunley 1968).
School Readiness: Bridging the Preparation Gap
Across the country, millions of children begin kindergarten unprepared. They are “left behind” as early as the first day of school. These children have not adequately experienced quality verbal interaction or books. They have not been exposed to play and interactive experiences that encourage problem-solving and appropriate social-emotional development. They do not have the language skills they need to successfully interact with their teachers and their classmates. They may not be able to control their behaviors or emotions as well as other students. They may have heard more discouragements than encouragements. Without the skills they need to successfully adjust to the classroom, they begin their academic careers behind their peers. Many of these children will never catch up.
The Parent-Child Home Program bridges this “preparation gap” by helping families challenged by poverty, limited education, language and literacy barriers, and other obstacles to school success prepare their children to enter school ready to be in the classroom.
The goals of this intensive, evidence-based home visiting model are to promote school readiness and academic success by strengthening parent-child verbal interaction and reading and play activities in the home. PCHP is for parents and their children ages 18 months to three years. Home Visitors help parents realize their role as their children’s first and most important teacher, generating enthusiasm for learning and verbal interaction through the use of engaging books and stimulating toys. Parents are encouraged to continue quality play and reading between visits with the books and toys they receive each week. This program is available in all Stoughton neighborhoods.
A Home Visitor is matched with the family and visits them for half-an-hour, twice-a-week on a schedule that is convenient for the family.
On the first visit of each week, the Home Visitor brings a carefully-selected book or educational toy, which is a gift to the family.
In the twice-weekly home sessions with the parent (or other primary caregiver) and the child, the Home Visitor models verbal interaction, reading, and play activities, demonstrating how to use the books and toys to build language and emergent literacy skills and promote school readiness.
Over the course of the two years in the Program, families acquire a library of children’s books and a large collection of educational and stimulating toys.
Each Program Year or Cycle consists of a minimum of 23 weeks of home visits or 46 home visits.
To find out if you or a family you are working with is eligible, contact Beth Smith at 781-344-7003 ext. 7377.
To see a video segment about PCHP, click here. To learn more about this national program's outcomes, click here.