Parent education programs and parent trainings focus on enhancing, or tailoring parenting practices for parents of both typical and atypical developing children. This can entail learning how to develop and practice positive discipline techniques, address challenging behaviors, learn to apply age-appropriate strategies in guiding a child's behavior and development, how to encourage skills to reach critical milestones, promoting positive play and interaction between parents and children, and how to utilize available tools in accessing community services and relevant support when needed.
The facts about parenting education programs are simple. Through time, several psychologists have proposed different theories on how children develop. A handful of these theories have been accepted and applied and continue to effect the approaches used in parent education today. These theories all have a specific approach. Some take a global approach, while others look at one specific element of child development, as in social emotional development. Sadly, most often, parent education, tends to be a reactive practice in dealing with abuse and neglect, and other atypical situations. It's a required sidekick program to free childcare programs. It may be offered to parents of toddlers and children dealing with behavior issues - usually enrolled in some therapeutic / behavioral program. In any case, parenting strategies are only successful when applied, and applied with some consistency.
In reality, parents are their child's first teacher, so no one knows a child better than their caregiver. Sometimes, a child may have more than one caregiver, which is great because now that child has more eyes keeping track of his or her development. Unfortunately, this also leaves a child vulnerable to adverse experiences at the hand of someone that may not have even general knowledge of child development, so caring for social and emotional needs may be at best haphazard. Another reality about parenting, is that we tend to parent the way we were parented and that could be positive, or negative, but the question remains, was it an ideal environment? Parenting, in the 21st century does not have to be haphazard. There is a plethora of information, backed by years of research, to help parents raise happy, healthy, successful learners - children that will be prepared to face an ever changing world.
Like the images above, parenting has gone through some changes in the last few decades. The idea of the two-parent home with a stay-at-home mom is still the ideal situation, but it's not a realistic situation for many families in our current economic structure. Because of societal shifts in family dynamics now we have grandparents raising, or helping raise their grandkids. There's also been a drastic rise in single mother homes, and though it does not come near that of single mother rates, single fathers are now having to, or choosing to parent alone. These new environments tend to create challenges for the traditional modes of parenting. What is the child to do?
Our approach in providing parent education is proactive. As we all know, children do not come with an instruction manual. So the best place to start learning about your child's development is where ever they are in the developmental timeline. We know that parenting can be stressful. Parenting can be scary. Parenting can be costly. But, parenting does not have to be a hit and miss thing. The first child does not have to be the experimental child. Learning how children develop is the best resource to have for childrearing. It is never to late to learn parenting strategies.
"The first five years of a child's life are fundamentally important. They are the foundation that shapes children's future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement at school, in the family and community, and in life in general.) Source "