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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.

Whiteriver families take parenting workshops to help prepare their children to succeed in kindergarten

Sylvia Hinton is training parents to help their children succeed in school.

Hinton brings parenting workshops to small towns like Whiteriver located on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Navajo County and other small rural towns across White Mountain Apache Tribe, like McNary and Cibecue, to teach parents about early childhood development.

Parenting education is a strategy funded by the First Things First White Mountain Apache Tribe Regional Partnership Council to help young children living in this area. Parents in these smaller communities have a hard time finding parenting support resources or there may not be any resources to find. There is also the need for workshop facilitators to be sensitive to cultural concerns.

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“Most of the parents attending the workshops are involved in their child’s education,” said Hinton, who is a parenting facilitator/neuro-psyche program assistant for Summit Healthcare. “But it takes them a while to be comfortable with the workshop. Those parents with a traditional tribal view are a little hesitant and question the purpose of the workshop at first. Once I explain the purpose of the workshops, they want more information and continue to participate.”

Hinton rotates through 16 parenting workshops that cover topics ranging from early childhood physical and brain development, social-emotional, communication and language development and other topics. Parents learn how to help their children with self-regulation and identifying and expressing their feelings. They also learn the importance of reading and playing with their children. Hinton also explains different parenting styles and healthy, effective ways of disciplining children.

“The first workshop is about brain development,” said Hinton. “The feedback I get from parents is very helpful as to what they want and need to learn and for providing resources. They often let me know that from attending the classes they understand the importance of educating their child at birth. Many are new parents, so they are learning about child development for the first time.”

Each workshop presents information about a child’s journey of development, starting from birth and through each level of development up through age 5. For each topic area and stage, parents are given resources such as what to ask in the doctor’s office, information on early literacy and developmental screenings.

As parents attend these monthly parenting workshops, they also start to develop relationships with other parents.

“We’ll talk about upcoming events,” said Hinton. “We discuss where to find resources or what they are concerned about. I also encourage them to get tips from each other and share ideas. They create a support group of parents that they can use throughout the year.”

Overall, Hinton hears that parents are grateful.

“They are learning things they never knew before and finding other resources to help their children,” Hinton said

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