Mother and daughter eat snacks together at preschool

First Teacher

Supporting powerful parents to create a lifetime of learning for their children.

The research on the value of early childhood education speaks loudly and clearly: the most rapid development in a child’s life occurs in the first eight years. Supporting parents to make the most of that time—by making their interactions language rich—is essential in preparing children for success in kindergarten and beyond. For children who do not experience high-quality early learning programming delivered by trained educators, these thoughtful interactions at home, in the grocery store, and on the playground become even more important. Without these opportunities, children are more likely to start school with limited vocabularies and struggle to read in the future; they may lose the joy in learning and, perhaps, confidence in themselves.

Founded in 2013, First Teacher is a community of parents and caregivers working together to support children to enter kindergarten in Boston at or above grade-level in literacy skills and general school readiness. Their motto: “Power to the Parents” articulates their vision of powerful parents cultivating lifelong learners in every neighborhood. First Teacher’s central goal is to bring parents and caregivers together to find their own power in their children’s lives, and to view themselves as their children’s first—and most important—teacher. When parents come together, they share access to information, skills, and strategies to use in everyday interactions. Through this work, parents and other caring adults build a network of support, activating their collective power to change the trajectory of their own lives and the lives of their children.

Their motto: 'Power to the Parents' articulates their vision of powerful parents cultivating lifelong learners in every neighborhood.

First Teacher offers monthly workshops that focus on skill-building, playdates that build social-emotional skills and relationships, and community events to strengthen the parent community. Under the leadership of Dinah Shepherd, Shantae Toole, and other parents, this growing organization has built energetic support networks and woven research-based pedagogy, like dialogic reading, into everyday home life for Boston families. The organization is now accepting applications for its third summer of Family Play Week, a partnership with the Boston Children's Museum and Boston Public Schools’ Countdown to Kindergarten, that will offer two week-long sessions of community-building, learning, and playing with families who live in Roxbury and Dorchester.

First Teacher kid guitar

Working collaboratively, First Teacher creates spaces and structures where Boston families can come together to develop and enhance the skills and support critical to transforming their children’s early developmental experiences. This research-based and parent-led program empowers families and builds community connections. Early education lays the foundation for young learners, and by supporting a child's first teacher, we invest in a lifetime of learning.

Learn more about First Teacher's work below:

The First Teacher Story

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First Teacher is a community of parents and caregivers working together to prepare all our children for success in kindergarten and beyond.