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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Home visitation program helps lay foundation of learning for Ahwatukee girl

mom-reads-to-girlLike all expecting parents, Marriott Hileman dreamed of raising a successful child. When Sofia was born, Hileman made the decision to stay home so she could support her daughter’s development.

However, it wasn’t until Hileman discovered Parents as Teachers, a home visitation program funded by First Things First that she got a whole new perspective on early learning and realized just how big her dreams for Sofia could be.

“The huge growth of brain development in the early years was new knowledge for me,” Hileman said. “I had no idea that toddlers were capable of learning such advanced concepts.”

Parents as Teachers provides voluntary coaching and in-home support for families. For Hileman, that meant a parent educator visited her home in Ahwatukee twice a month.

“My parent educator showed me how to use everyday moments to make learning fun,” Hileman said. “This changed how I interacted with Sofia when cooking, shopping, reading and just talking about things in the environment.”

Sofia benefited from the program from age 2 to 5, while Hileman gained lessons on parenting, development, literacy, nutrition and social skills to prepare Sofia for school.

By the time Sofia entered kindergarten, Hileman felt her daughter was very prepared and ready for school. Today, Sofia is a confident first grader with a love for reading and learning. Hileman believes that it was the foundation laid in the first five years that made a difference.

“Because of the tools I was given to support her early years, I was inspired to push Sofia to reach her best abilities,” Hileman said. “Sofia continues to exceed my dreams, and I know she will go even further in life than I imagined.”​

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