In Crawley, a small revolution has been going on. A lottery-funded parenting skills course has been attracting hard-to-reach parents in droves and keeping them engaged in a 10-week parenting course. In a second-floor room off The Broadway in Crawley magic happened, and Mums (and Dads!) from every nation and faith met together to work on their parenting skills.
So many of the radio interviews I have done recently identified that Parenting Courses traditionally attract middle-class mums. The interviewers such as Nicky Campbell, Vanessa Feltz and Sarah Gorrell have levelled criticism that if the government offered free ‘CanParent’ parenting vouchers, hard-to-reach parents would not attend. Well, I would like to introduce them to the Parent 4 Success course at the Living Faith Resource centre!
I have just finished running the parenting course and am incredibly proud of the success of the course. One really important feature of this course was that 93% of the course participants were black or minority ethnic, with 60 % having English as a second language. Here is the proof that EVERYONE can benefit from a little parenting know-how and with the right course and preparation parents of all nationalities and backgrounds will attend a 10-week parenting skills course.
The course was open to everyone. People were free to sign up from any background or religion and many participants were of African, Asian or European descent. The success of the course was due to a number of important features. The Living Faith Resource Centre, who managed to secure Lottery funding did a tremendous job in advertising the course and getting 20 people to come along. This was done through advertising in churches, word of mouth, putting up a board in the street and PR using the local paper ‘The Crawley Observer’. They had a launch and invited the local Mayor, Carol Eade and MP Henry Smith. They offered parents transport costs and childcare costs to encourage participation. Many of the parents bought their little ones along and were made to feel welcome.
Having attracted such a large group, the course needed to deliver value to the group of 20 parents. My challenge was to adapt the Parent 4 Success Course to meet the needs of a diverse group and to deliver the material in a simple and straightforward way so that all the parents could master the skills. The fact that the parents continued to come back week after week was proof that they were benefiting from and appreciating the course. 100% of participants said at the end of the course they would recommend this course to others.
The parents who attended the course were reliable, conscientious and fun. They added a huge amount to the experience by sharing their personal stories and encouraging each other in their efforts to keep putting the skills into practice. They were engaged and committed to improving the lives of their children. I felt privileged to facilitate their learning and hear their stories as they implemented the parenting skills.
So what did the participants gain from the course?
Children helping at home
‘I was doing everything in the house because my boys who were only 2 and 6 and I thought they were too young to take on house chores. But now even the little one helps
Please how do we advertise for the next course for our friends? This has been so good that not only has it changed me, but it has changed my family and everybody around us’ (Brenda Langa)
‘When I want to shout at the kids I try and pause and think what our tutor has talked about and I become a little calmer in my head and my actions. I have already talked to other parents about how
effective the course is and how helpful it could be for them. This is one of the best short courses. Gets to the point and makes the parent or carer aware of very potential and crucial area of human errors which can help understanding and feelings in children. Lastly so very well taught. Thanks’ (Nasidda K. Ali)
Children getting dressed independently
‘I have learned techniques to encourage the children to behave in a positive manner using descriptive praise and reflective listening. I have also learned some techniques for when they push my buttons which I hope to put into practice. One morning my sons were refusing to get dressed for school. Rather than getting cross and shouting and nagging I decided to try descriptive praise. It was difficult to start as they were really making no attempt but I started with ‘wow you’ve moved your leg, that’s the first step towards getting your socks on’ or something similar and that was the start of them getting dressed that morning’ (Natasha Hornsby)
Keeping children out of mischief
‘Of course, my girls behaviours been changed a lot (for what especially I been here). Now I keep her busy with me whatever I’m doing in the kitchen, everywhere so she makes very less trouble for me, otherwise before when I’m in kitchen every time I have to shout’ (Amna Farooq)Children listening to instructions
‘My daughter Lara wasn’t listening to me on some occasions but now thank you for reflective listening. It really helped. Now it is almost perfect! Lara and I understand each other very well. Definitely her behaviours changed because of the reflective listening and positive discipline. Believe me, there are so many valuable techniques and information you will gain if you join this course! I will recommend to all my friends to take advantage of this very valuable indeed course! (Neslihan Ulgun-Patel)
Tackling fussy eating
Family life with one five year old who picks on almost everything I do and does not like food was a bit stressful. With reflective listening and less shouting at the child, we have built a trusting relationship and a better understanding of one another. Mealtimes used to drive me insane because I was always afraid that she would not eat, but with this programme, there has been lots of improvement. Now we look forward to mealtime together and eating the same type of food. Well done Elizabeth – you are doing a fabulous job. If every parent will do what you are teaching the nation will be a safe haven for all (Chibuzo Mere)
Understanding children’s emotions
‘My son would ‘freak out’ in certain situations and I would first get annoyed with him. I now calm down and acknowledge how he could be feeling. He seems to be calmer when I have said this to him. Elizabeth, thank you for listening. You made every person feel heard. You are honest and tell the truth, in order for us to learn from what we are doing wrong’ (Tracy Leachman)
The parents on the course are now trying to arrange to meet up regularly to keep up their skills and friendships and support each other in their continuing parenting journey.
If you would be interested in finding out more or want to enquire about courses starting in September please give Joyce Nduka or John Tettekpoe a ring at the Living Faith Resource Centre on 01293 200684