United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Parent education creates a stellar future

“If it wasn’t for AVANCE and United Way, my priorities would have been cleaning the house and baking, and he would have been watching TV all day.”

At age 3, Azarel knew the names of all the planets in English and Spanish — and is sure he will one day go to college.

Azarel is really interested in the solar system. Before he turned 3, he knew the names of all the planets in both English and Spanish. His dad, Arturo, put images of the planets on Azarel’s ceiling so he can look up at them at night and keep learning more.

Azarel also loves to read. Once, he and his mom, Mildred, were at a store and she told Azarel he had to pick between a book or a toy because she couldn’t afford both. She says proudly, “He didn’t think about it twice. He grabbed the book.”

Every time the family gets in the car, Arturo tells Azarel that he’s going to be successful and will go to college. That will be tough for Mildred and Arturo to pull off financially, but Azarel’s getting the message. Once, they got in the car and before Arturo could speak, Azarel told them in his own words that he was going to go to college and be successful.

When they’re out with other families, Mildred says Azarel stands out because he apologizes when he bumps into someone else. He’s sociable and shares with the other kids. Mildred gets a little choked up with pride when she shares that Azarel also uses advanced words that make the other moms ask, “He’s the same age as my child? How did you teach him that?”

Mildred tells them it’s because of the Parent Education Program classes at AVANCE-Dallas, which receive a grant from the United Way Community Impact Fund.

When Azarel was 1, the family started going to AVANCE. For three-and-a-half hours a week, Mildred and Arturo go to a parenting class and Azarel goes to a class with other children. Mildred and Arturo have learned better ways to read to Azarel, to teach him art and science, to build age-appropriate toys that he can play with, and to discipline him without spanking.

Mildred says, “It’s really important to me to have a close relationship with him so that he knows I’m going to be there for him no matter what he does. If it wasn’t for AVANCE and United Way, my priorities would have been cleaning the house and baking, and he would have been watching TV all day. Now, the house can fall apart and we’ll be playing, having fun and learning — that’s what’s important.”

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