The curriculum contains 10 sessions of approximately one hour. Most sessions include a video segment of 2-3 minutes, and a lesson supported by group activities, handouts, and workbook exercises that may be done in class or as homework. Many sessions have voluntary research assignments.
Session 1 provides an overview of the curriculum. It explains what the OAG Child Support Division does to enforce laws that require parents to support their children. Students learn the definition of custodial and noncustodial parent, discuss the concept of parents as caregivers and are asked to remember what it was like to be a small child. In the video, teen parents talk about what it was like to find out they were expecting, and how a baby affected their lives. A second video clip features teen parents remembering the difficulty of telling their parents they were expecting a baby. Students engage in a group activity to help them identify what it takes to be a responsible and dependable parent. If time allows, students participate in an optional activity –“Defining Yourself”–which helps students define themselves and assess the way others see them. The research project is to look up average income based on educational attainment.
Session 2 covers legal terms and their meanings. Students explore the many different definitions of the word father. They identify the three pathways to becoming a legal father. Teen parents in the video clip recall their childbirth experiences and discuss the Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) document they were asked to sign in the hospital. Students get to see and read a portion of a real AOP, which contains a considerable amount of legalese. Finally, in an activity called the Legalese Game, students compete to correctly match legal terms with their definitions. Teachers can choose to show the video, Acknowledgment of Paternity, as an optional activity. The research project asks students to determine hourly wages of accessible local businesses that are willing to hire teens.
Session 3 begins with a video of teen parents talking about the joys of watching their baby grow, the importance of a father in a child's life, and why and how they established paternity. Students explore the requirements for and benefits of establishing paternity, and identify specific benefits of legal parenthood for children, mothers and fathers. Once they have basic knowledge about the benefits of paternity, students consider what might happen in a child’s life if his or her biological father did or didn’t establish legal paternity. In the optional activity –“Whose Job Is It?”–students working in pairs negotiate carrying out common parenting jobs and identify those jobs that are easier for dads when they are the legal father. The research project asks students to find out the prices of 10 items needed for a baby.
Session 4 begins with a video of teen parents discussing the financial responsibilities of raising a child. Students explore the costs of raising a child through various activities. They imagine how they would spend $20, and then compare what teen parents might choose to do with that money. Then students participate in a game show-style activity where they guess the costs of typical baby items such as diapers and strollers. Finally, students begin an exciting project-based budgeting activity –“The Wheel of Life”–where they create individual budgets and then, in future sessions, determine how different life events might impact those budgets. The research project asks students to continue to work on the Wheel of Life project.
Session 5 features teen parents discussing the challenges of working long hours, and trying to juggle school and find time for their child. Students gain additional information about child support orders, including basic guidelines about who must pay, how orders are established and how the amount owed is determined. The activity, “Count the Money,” teaches them how much it costs, in real dollars, to be a noncustodial parent. In Part II of the Wheel of Life Project, students revise the budgets they created in the last session based on changing family situations such as becoming a custodial or noncustodial parent. The research project asks students to continue to work on their Wheel of Life project.
Session 6 begins with a video clip in which parents discuss their experiences with child support enforcement. Students compare and contrast the meanings of “child support” and “supporting your children” with the goal of having them understand that child support services are aimed at helping parents give financial support to their children. The next activity focuses on the meaning of commitment, different types of commitment, why people fail to keep commitments and how child support is a very important, long-term commitment to children. Students then learn about the range of legal actions that can be taken when parents fail to pay child support. As an option, students can go to Part III of the Wheel of Life Project, where they receive a fortune or crisis scenario that affects the budget they have been working on over the last few sessions. The research project asks students to continue to work on their Wheel of Life Projects.
Session 7 examines the concept of team parenting. Students explore the meaning of team parenting and discuss the importance of respect among all members of a child's parenting team. The video clip features teen parents discussing what it’s like to work with the other parent and the value of raising their child together or in a cooperative manner. An activity called IALAC, “I Am Loveable and Capable,” demonstrates how parents' conflicts can damage a child's self-esteem. Students participate in a kinesthetic team-building activity to promote a discussion of cooperation and teamwork. They learn five key team parenting skills and apply those skills to a case study about Paul, who is spending his first weekend with his daughter. An optional activity, “Video: For Our Children,” makes the case for raising children in the context of healthy and committed adult relationships. The research project asks students to study several non-payment scenarios and figure out what the noncustodial parents can do to straighten out their problems.
Session 8 begins with a video of teen parents talking honestly about the ways that having children altered their dreams and expectations for their futures. Students are then asked to identify their goals and dreams for their future and to imagine how parenthood would affect them. Next they complete a personal timeline, which asks them to plot out a sequence for key future events, such as graduating from high school, starting a career, falling in love, getting married and having children. Finally, students participate in a continuum choice activity to express their beliefs about these issues. They get introduced to “listening for understanding ground rules,” which can help in group discussions and in conversations between partners in any type of relationship. An optional activity –“Guest Panel of Married Couples”–gives students the opportunity to interact with adult role models who have healthy (but not perfect) marriages. The research project asks students to find out what is required to get married in Texas.
Session 9 focuses on the characteristics of healthy relationships and the skills needed to develop and maintain a healthy relationship. The video clip in this session features teen parents talking about how their relationships changed after becoming parents and how children are impacted by the quality of their parents' relationship. Students hear a story about a teen couple –Angie and Michael –who has a fairly typical teen relationship. They are then divided into small groups to assess the plusses and minuses of Angie and Michael’s relationship and to identify ways to improve the relationship. Afterward, students stay in their small groups to discuss communication skills that can help Angie and Michael strengthen their relationship. An optional activity –“Five Couples Considering Marriage”–gives students an opportunity to think about all the issues to consider before getting married. The research project is to identify facts about divorce in Texas.
Session 10 provides information about 1) the different forms of dating violence, 2) warning signs of abusive relationships and 3) strategies for dealing with dating violence. The activities in this session help students explore what happens when relationships become dangerous. Students participate in an activity to help them understand the types of tactics and strategies that a person might use to wield power and control over a boyfriend or girlfriend. Finally, they analyze common relationship scenarios to assess whether they include warning signs of relationship violence. Teachers can choose to show the video, Don’t Let Yourself, as an optional activity. At the end of the session, teachers ask students to state the key messages they learned in p.a.p.a., and teachers provide a summary. If time allows, a longer optional activity, “Closing the p.a.p.a. Program,” provides for more meaningful closure. Teachers are requested to alert school counselors to the lesson's subject matter in case of outcries from students experiencing violence in dating relationships or at home.