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Our History


The concept for Parents as Teachers (PAT) was developed in the 1970s when Missouri educators noted that children were beginning kindergarten with varying levels of learning readiness. Research showed 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 a program to help parents prepare children for school and life success. Mildred Winter founded Parents as Teachers began in 1981 in Missouri as a pilot project for first-time parents of newborns. Convinced of the program’s benefits and cost effectiveness, state funding was provided in 1985 to implement the Parents as Teachers program in all Missouri school districts. Since 1985, Parents as Teachers has expanded to all 50 states and many other countries.

The work of Parents as Teachers is grounded in these basic beliefs:

  • Parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers.
  • The early years of a child’s life are critical for optimal development and provide the foundation for success in school and life.
  • Established and emerging research should be the foundation of parent education and family support, curricula, training, materials and services.
  • All young children and their families deserve the same opportunities to succeed, regardless of any demographic, geographic, or economic considerations.
  • An understanding and appreciation of the history and traditions of diverse cultures is essential in serving families.
Great Beginnings Early Education Center building

Great Beginnings Early Education Center at Legacy Park is home to the Parents as Teachers program for the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.