Parents as Teachers Foundational Curriculum: Prenatal to 3 (Parents as Teachers) has been evaluated in many studies since it began in 1984; and over the years, the curriculum has been revised several times. This review presents evidence from two studies on the effectiveness of the current version of the Parents as Teachers curriculum, which was introduced in 2010. The first study is a recent evaluation of Parents as Teachers (Lahti, Evans, Goodman, Schmidt & LeCroy, 2019). The second study investigates implementation of Parents as Teachers as part of the Zurich Equity Prevention Project with Parents' Participation and Integration (ZEPPELIN) intervention (Schaub, Ramseier, Neuhauser, Burkhardt, & Lanfranchi, 2019; Neuhauser, Ramseier, Shaub, Burkhardt, & Lanfranchi, 2018).
While this report focuses on evidence for child outcomes in the school readiness domains, Parents as Teachers has also been associated with positive parenting outcomes. For more information on Parents as Teachers as a parenting curriculum, please see the Parenting Curricula for Home-Based Delivery Database. In addition, the Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) review presents information on associations between Parents as Teachers and outcomes in maternal and child health and other domains.
Rigorous Research Design: The Parents as Teachers evaluation used a quasi-experimental design, and the ZEPPELIN study used an experimental design.
Sample and Generalizability: The Parents as Teachers evaluation included children who were enrolled in the Arizona public schools whose participated in Parents as Teachers as young children. The children were predominantly Hispanic, and most qualified for free and reduced lunch in the public schools. The ZEPPELIN study took place in Switzerland. The sample included families of children who were less than 4 months old when the study began. Families had psychosocial risk factors, and most were immigrants to Switzerland.
Fidelity of Implementation: The Parents as Teachers evaluation did not report training or fidelity information. The home visitors in the ZEPPELIN study were pediatric nurses who participated in training as parent educators and attained recertification. They had to meet fidelity requirements developed by their organization, including annual performance reports.
Parenting Outcomes: The Parents as Teachers evaluation analyzed parenting outcomes using a pre-test/post-test design without a comparison group. It found positive parenting outcomes for caregiver interactions during play, as well as for a variety of protective factors (i.e., family functioning, social support, and concrete support). While scores on nurturing and attachment were slightly higher at post-test, the difference was not significant. The ZEPPELIN study found a positive effect of Parents as Teachers on maternal sensitivity when children were 12 months old, though not when children were 24 or 36 months old.
Child Outcomes: The Parents as Teachers evaluation assessed children’s elementary math achievement, elementary reading achievement (on two measures), and English Language Learner Achievement (i.e., reading and writing in English). It found a small-medium positive effect on children’s elementary math achievement and a small positive effect on English Language Learner achievement. While there were also small positive effects on children’s elementary reading achievement, the effect only reached significance for one of the measures. The ZEPPELIN study analyzed children’s self-help skills, developmental milestones, developmental competence (in cognitive, language, and motor skills), vocabulary, nonverbal intelligence, developmental dysfunction (child behavior), and effortful control. Children who participated in Parents as Teachers had positive effects on self-help skills, developmental milestones, expressive language, vocabulary, and some aspects of developmental dysfunction and effortful control, when compared to children who did not participate in Parents as Teachers.