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Program provides resources for parents

Staff writer

Elijah Klenda, of Pilsen, spent part of his morning Feb. 2 feeding and watering his animals — a horse, cow, sheep, and rabbit. He did it all from the comfort of his living room floor, because 21-month-old Elijah was playing with his toys.

Such pretend play is a good sign of his development, Parents As Teachers educator Ronda Suderman King told Elijah’s mother, Andrea Klenda.

Klenda and King played with Elijah and discussed his development during King’s monthly home visit. His speech, growth, motor skills, and eating habits were all topics of discussion.

The assurance that Elijah is developing normally is important, Klenda said. She and husband Dale Klenda got involved with Parents As Teachers in July 2008, she said.

Elijah insisted on reading a book several times during the visit.

“About the only time he sits still is reading a book,” Klenda said.

Klenda appreciates the ideas Parents As Teachers gives her for homemade toys. During the visit, King made an educational toy out of a plastic bottle, rice, and small plastic toys. Elijah was able to identify what the toys were despite them being obscured by the rice making him think.

Elijah also had fun helping fill the bottle with rice, but more ended up on him and the floor than in the bottle.

About Parents As Teachers

Marion County Parents As Teachers was established in 2002 with a state grant and money from the Centre, Goessel, Hillsboro, Marion, and Peabody-Burns school districts. Parents As Teachers serves families with children from birth to age 3.

Centre School District has openings for home visits. Other districts have a waiting list, but people on the waiting list can participate in group events, attend health screenings, and obtain information.

The state grant provides 60 percent of the organization’s funding, with school districts paying most of the rest, coordinator Lori Soo Hoo said. There is no charge for families to join.

The organization operates under the principle that parents are a child’s first, best, and most important teachers, Soo Hoo said. Parents As Teachers aims to give parents the confidence and tools to teach their children.

Home educators use a curriculum tailored to each individual child. They are required to have a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field and must spend a week training in the Parents As Teachers curriculum.

To learn more about Marion County Parents As Teachers, contact Soo Hoo at (620) 947-4041.

Last modified Feb. 10, 2010

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