Now serving more than 100 children, the St. Clair R-XIII School District’s Parents as Teachers program continues to encourage and empower parents to be their child’s first educator.

Board of education members were provided a program update during their September meeting and included the information as part of the consent agenda they approved.

The PAT program serves “high needs” children within the R-XIII schools. According to the information provided, there currently are 103 youngsters from prenatal to age 5 being served.

The program is split into two age groups — birth to age 3 and from ages 3 to 5. Currently, there are 66 children in the younger category and 37 in the older division.

The objective of the program is to help provide early detection of developmental problems in children and develop strong partnerships between parents, schools and the community by becoming involved in area preschools, daycares and the Missouri Department of Health.

“Parents As Teachers is an early intervention program,” R-XIII Assistant Superintendent Nadine Myers told The Missourian. “It is one of the best tools we have in preparing our future students, as well as their parents, for success beginning at a very early age.  It offers parents additional skills and strategies to help their children become better learners. Hopefully, that learning will later help them become better students and eventually more productive members of society.”

The program is evaluated annually by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

For the current academic year DESE has designated more than $20,000 to be used toward R-XIII’s PAT program. The money is used for child screenings and parent education.

Information about the St. Clair R-XIII PAT program listed several strengths. Among them are that all of its parent educators are certified for both the birth to age 3 and the age 3 to 5 programs, high-needs children are served through at least three visits during the school year, parents’ knowledge of child development is increased and the program provides early detection of developmental delays and makes appropriate referrals for early childhood special education.

According to the St. Clair school district, 23 new families signed up to participate in the program during the previous academic year. So far this year, three new families have enrolled since Aug. 15, the day classes started this year.

Early Childhood

Information also was shared concerning the district’s early childhood development program.

The program is serving 124 students with a waiting list of 15 more.

The early childhood teachers receive “balanced literacy training” through the Missouri Reading Initiative throughout the year.