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Parent educators help parents and caregivers gain the knowledge and skills required to raise emotionally, psychologically and physically healthy children. They work in public and private schools, child care centers, family centers and other providers of family support care. Often, they are called on to help a family in crisis or because a court has recommended parent education courses.
Parent educators must possess strong verbal and written communication skills to thrive in the job. They use active listening and speaking skills to counsel parents in a clear and understandable manner. Parent educators also need planning skills to develop sound work schedules and analytical skills to assess the effectiveness of their instructional strategies. Many educators are also good problem-solvers, with the ability to establish positive relationships with people from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Parent educators interview participating parents and caregivers to assess their strengths and weaknesses, and establish the parenting issues they are facing. Educators use this information to design a suitable parent education program. If the parents encounter sibling rivalry, rebellious behavior and eating disorders, the program must cover these issues. Parent educators then conduct classroom lessons, where they teach the participants how to effectively handle these challenges. They also conduct instruction sessions in the homes of parents, and often provide them with handbooks regarding child development, parenting styles and other relevant issues.
Apart from delivering instruction, parent educators maintain up-to-date documentation regarding home visits and attendance records of the participants. They also assess the effectiveness of parent education programs, compile reports and submit them to program managers. When an institution wants to organize a family fun day or other event, the educators may help to develop physical activities tailored for families that are at risk of poor parenting. These may include indoor games or outdoor adventures.
The qualifications for parent educators vary by employer. While many employers prefer educators with a bachelor’s degree in social work or human services and vast counseling experience, those offering programs focusing on child health prefer registered nurses with at least an associate degree in nursing. The National Parenting Education Network offers relevant certifications, which educators can earn to improve their competence. Although there isn’t an elaborate career progression path for parent educators, those who gain vast experience and obtain an advanced degree in management can become program managers.