3/1/2013 9:23:00 AM Fit and Healthy Kids Parents as Teachers playgroup focuses on nutrition and exercise
Parent Educators Lorina McCabe and Roxanna DeLaHuerta read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carl to the young children at the Parents as Teachers February Playgroup.
COTTONWOOD -- "I like to eat, eat, eat, apples and bananas," sang the children and families at the Parents as Teachers February playgroup held at the Cottonwood Public Library.
Parents as Teachers is a free home visiting program of Arizona's Children Association for families with young children ages birth to five, and is funded by a grant from First Things First.
Through the program, a Parent Educator visits families in the child's most familiar environment- their home- and provides individualized parent education and support based on their child's needs. All families participating in Parents as Teachers are invited to a monthly playgroup where they come together to learn about a topic, read and socialize. This month, the theme was healthy eating and staying fit.
Exercise is an important part of health at any stage of life- including early childhood. It is recommended that young children get at least 30 minutes of very active exercise every day, and when parents model a healthy lifestyle, children are more likely to follow. Parents as Teacher parent educator Rainee Crabtree suggested that families stay fit by taking walks together. "It's sometimes hard for parents to keep up with their young kids!" said Crabtree.
Young children are well known to be picky eaters, and can be suspicious of new foods. At the February Parents as Teachers playgroup, parent educators lead a discussion about including more fruits and vegetables into family meals, and handed out recipes for simple, healthy and thrifty dishes.
Having two young children under age five, Cynthia Williams knows feeding young kids can be tricky. When it comes to nutrition for Ana and Ben Angel, her two youngest, "everything she loves, he hates," said Williams.
Cynthia Williams and her family enrolled in Parents as Teachers when they adopted siblings Ana and Ben Angel two years ago. Ana is now two and Ben Angel is now four. As the mother of eight children- six of which are adopted- Cynthia Williams is grateful for the tips, tools and activities that she gets from her parent educator, Rainee Crabtree. She especially likes that Parents as Teachers provides support and information catered to the unique needs of their family.
"I like the literature Rainee brings to me," says Williams. She also knows that the first five years- in which 90% of a child's brain is being formed- are especially critical. "The early years are important, because gaps identified now can be addressed early."
Through Parents as Teachers, parents and caregivers across Yavapai County are strengthening their skills to ensure their children are healthy, growing, and on the path to success.
For more information about Parents as Teachers or to enroll, please call 1-888-771-3435 X 2409.
Parents as Teachers in funded through a grant from First Things First.
For more information on First Things First, please visit ReadyAZKids.com.