Angie Hitt had been an elementary school teacher for eight years before she had her first child. She enrolled in the Parents as Teachers home visiting program when her daughter, Delaney, was 6 months old, and was surprised when she started learning more about the tremendous amount of brain development that happens before age 5.
“I probably underestimated the importance of focusing on 0 to 5 years old,” Hitt said. “I think I viewed that time in their lives as less structured. Having kids and learning more, it really is important to have more structure. Not in a way that limits creativity, but it’s important to know those brain connections are built through those experiences.”
Hitt said the program is especially helpful for parents who don’t have a background in teaching or education.
“Very young children learn differently than school-aged children,” Hitt said. “Sometimes people try to push certain learning styles on young children, because that’s what they remember from elementary school.”
Delaney is going to be a second grader this year and is reading at a third grade reading level, Hitt said. Aside from academics, Hitt said the program helped Delaney prepare socially for kindergarten.
“An advantage to her being in the program was that when she came to school, she was socially and emotionally ready to learn,” Hitt said. “Delaney wasn’t intimidated by being at school. Those are things that are really important, too.”