Back to the classroom

Man teaching adult education

Man teaching adult education

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PARENTS are going back to school as they look to enhance the lives of their children.

More new families are taking the time to learn about behavioural patterns and boundaries to help them at home.

But it’s not just about cutting out the odd tantrum.

As the Government begins to trial its own parenting classes across the country, it has been accused of a creating a Nanny State to encourage parents to bring up their child under their watchful eye.

David Cameron is to hand new parents a voucher worth £100 for classes to help them through the first stages of caring for a child.

But those getting help in bringing up their children after experiencing help in a classroom have reaped the rewards.

Blackpool husband and wife Julie and Graham decided to try out classes organised by Blackpool Council six months ago, and now claim to have a “thriving” family life.

Julie lives with her husband and three children aged 12, 18 and 21 months.

After taking the plunge, and going along to the classes, she says she would encourage any parent to take advantage of the Government’s trial scheme.

She said: “The classes I’ve done have been a positive experience.

“They are not going to be for everybody, and not everyone is going to feel they want them.

“But children don’t come with a handbook, and when you give birth, nobody tells you how to deal with them.

“I feel the classes are very positive, but you have to be in the mindset that you want some help.”

Julie says her three children all pose problems at one time or another, but the classes have helped her to overcome all of their behavioural problems.

She added: “My 12-year-old at high school has a lot of problems that are totally different to my youngest child.

“My eldest wants to be around friends, and has some peer pressure, but you learn to cater for each individual’s needs.

“They are not teaching you how to suck eggs, they are giving you advice on how children can become functioning members of society.

“If parents work a lot, there’s more than one child in the house, or you have financial pressures, then you can sometimes forget your children have specific needs.

“But the classes can give you advice, and allow you to talk about things that are bothering you.

“Our family is thriving through the classes, and we can’t thank them enough.”

The Can Parent scheme will make the vouchers available through health professionals and on the high street in Boots.

In addition, the Government is launching a new NHS online service for parents covering areas such as breastfeeding, nappy changing and post-natal depression.

Julie added: “Nobody wants to be told how to parent their child and I don’t think anyone would appreciate that.

“But somewhere along the line you need help, even if it’s when a child throws a tantrum. If something can be done to help parents I think it’s a great idea.

“My message to other parents is look into this, because we all want to produce decent human beings who will grow up to have decent human beings themselves.”

Graham joined his wife on the parenting classes a month ago, and says he can also take huge positives away from the classes.

He said: “They aren’t going to work for everyone, but for me they have worked perfectly.

“The techniques I’ve put into place have taken effect and are working.

“We’ve been given so many techniques and strategies to use so we are armed and ready if something unfamiliar happens. It’s been very beneficial.”

Despite admitting to warming to the classes and learning a lot, Graham says he was sceptical about going along at first.

He added: “Before the first session I didn’t know what it was going to be like, but it has helped us both so much.

“You need to go into it with an open mind, and if it’s not for some people they shouldn’t be forced to do them.

“They are extremely confidential, and what is discussed in the room never leaves it.”

Coun Sarah Riding, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “We already offer a lot of help to parents, so that their children can get the best possible start to life.

“Our Children’s Centres are the best in the region and our work with families during a child’s early years can give them a good base to achieve their potential in the future.

“These are not so much classes which teach people how to be parents, but help them with the very difficult task of bringing up a family.”