Program Description

Sunshine School and Development Center started the Parents As Teachers program in Benton County in 1993.  Sunshine Parents as Teachers is an early learning program for families with children from birth to five years of age.  The curriculum we use is from the Parents As Teachers National Center, which has been involved in children’s early learning since 1981.  The Parents As Teacher National Center came to be based on the research shown that greater family involvement in children’s learning is a critical link in the child’s development of academic skills, including reading and writing. Early childhood professionals suggested that a program to help parents understand their role in encouraging their child’s development right from birth could help prepare children for school and life success. Such a program, available to all families, would help level the playing field for all children.

Sunshine PAT is a free, voluntary service throughout Benton County.  Since parents are their child’s first and most influential teachers, a certified parent educator provides personalized monthly visits with the parent and child together in their home environment.  The parent educator will share developmental information with the families based on the child’s specific age and development at that time. Each visit involves practical ways parent can encourage their child’s development along with effective discipline, home safety and constructive play.

Group meeting are offered a minimum of 10 times a year which provide an opportunity for parent education, parent – child activities and family support.  Parent – child social activities, field trips and informational guest speakers make up the curriculum of the group meetings.

Children enrolled in the program are screened annually on their birthday month.  Assessment tools are used to chart each child’s development to make sure they remain on track developmentally.  If your child is identified with a significant delay in any of the areas of development, the child will be referred for a further evaluation, with the parent’s consent.

Resources in the community are crucial for some families.  Each parent educator familiarizes themselves with the local agencies available to help each family they serve.  With the knowledge that the parent educators gain from their community involvement, they are then able to help your family to tap into the resources their communities has to offer them.

Parent educators in the PAT program at “Sunshine School” must have at least a high school diploma and two years minimum experience with young children and/or parents.

Parents/caregivers have varying qualification factors allowing them to participate in these programs due to the variety of funding sources and their requirements. Please call for clarification.

If you are interesting in getting more information about this program or would like to participate, please call 479-636-3190 ext. 106 or ext. 108 for Spanish, or e-mail