Volunteer John Huff explains snakes to a group of captivated families.
Parents as Teachers is a home visiting program for families with children 0-5 years. During bi-weekly visits, parent educators work to strengthen families by sharing tips around parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting, and family well-being. Through monthly group connections, the organization connects parents to local support services and fosters their engagement to schools and other community organizations.
Parents As Teacher’s recent excursion to Prescott’s Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary proved to be a literacy rich encounter as young children were introduced to beautiful beasts, bugs and reptiles. The sanctuary, formerly known as Heritage Park Zoo, is a non-profit wildlife preserve dedicated to the conservation and protection of native and exotic animals. Sanctuary volunteer and snake handler John Huff shared: "Lots of moms and young children come to the Zoo. Exposure helps children see how amazing the world around them is and helps them become better aquatinted with their environment". When asked if exposure to the animals helped to reduce children’s fears, Huff responded, "Sometimes. One benefit, however is that it can help children practice kindness."
Ali and Asher check out "Sash" an American Black Bear.
Enthusiastic about their visit, families were also able to practice developing their child’s social and emotional skills: "So much fun to be had that there was a two year old tantrum to work through when leaving!" said one caregiver. Other parents agreed: "I’m glad PAT had a zoo day" said Anne Parmeter, mother to 2 year old Benjamin. "We got in free and got to see all the animals. I took lots of photos that my son will enjoy seeing later".
Parents As Teachers, a program of the Arizona Children's Association , is supported by First Things First. For more information about First Things First, please visit azftf.gov. If you are interested in learning more about PAT please contact Rainee Crabtree at (928) 443-1991 x2021