The University of Wisconsin-Extension produces and distributes three series of educational newsletters for parents – Preparing to Parent, Parenting the First Year and Parenting the Second and Third Years. These newsletter series are age-paced, so parents receive a newsletter specific to their child’s age. For example, the parents of a 24-month-old toddler receive information on the physical, intellectual and social skills being developed by children this exact age, and learn ways to promote optimal development.
Parents receive the newsletters free usually in the mail. UW-Extension offices across the state coordinate the distribution of the newsletters with community partners, including local health departments and hospitals, and dozens of other businesses and service clubs (e.g. Kiwanis).
The newsletters were written with the dual aim of preventing abusive parenting and encouraging competent parenting. The Parenting Newsletter Project has produced some important outcomes for Wisconsin families. Parents rate the Parenting the First Year newsletter series “very useful” as a source of child rearing advice more often than any other source. And parents who receive Parenting the First Year, compared to those who don’t, have beliefs significantly less like those of child-abusing parent, and report spanking or slapping their babies significantly less often. More than half a million families have received Parenting the First Year since the project began in 1988.