Tuesday, May 22, 2012
National problems of childhood obesity, children not being ready for school, and child maltreatment – and how effective parenting plays a critical role in overcoming these issues – are lending new urgency this year in Oregon to Parenting Education Week, which takes place May 20-26.
“Parenting skills are learned, and always have been,” said Denise Rennekamp, parenting education program coordinator for the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families of Oregon State University. “In the past, perhaps those skills were gained from a family and extended community network. But today, as people are more separated by distance, and parents have to work more, the ability to learn those skills and obtain that knowledge can be a struggle.”
Rennekamp says effective parenting education programs have been linked with decreased rates of child abuse and neglect, better physical, cognitive and emotional development in children, and increased parental knowledge of child development and parenting skills.
Locally, the Columbia Gorge Parenting Education Program is housed at The Next Door and covers Hood River and Wasco Counties. Funded by the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative (The Ford Family Foundation, OSU, the Meyer Memorial Trust, The Collins Foundation and The Oregon Community Foundation), the local program works closely with community partners in building a coordinated system of parenting education services. Heading into its third year, the Columbia Gorge Parenting Education Program continues to impact the lives of hundreds of children and families by providing multiple parenting education classes, workshops, and other child-enrichment opportunities each year.
“Our vision is that all children are raised in nurturing homes where they receive, from the very beginning, the supportive foundation for success in school and life, “explains Karen Enns, Next Door program director. “That foundation is love, trust, security, guidance, confidence-building, a love of learning, responsibility, and so many other things that are the parents’ job to provide. It’s not an easy job, and it doesn’t necessarily come naturally – that’s why parenting classes are such a great boost to children and to family life.”
Parenting classes are interactive and cover a range of discussions, including: understanding children’s development and capabilities at different ages; communication skill-building; reducing parental stress; discipline tips; gaining children’s cooperation; the important role of play in early learning; and sharing the joys, challenges and creativity of parenting with other parents.
For more information on local parenting education opportunities, contact The Columbia Gorge Parenting Education Program at the Next Door at 541-436-0319 or 855-308-2236 (toll free) or visit www.nextdoorinc.org. Watch for the printed “Parenting in the Gorge” Guide coming out in September.
The Next Door is a local nonprofit whose mission is opening doors to new possibilities by strengthening children and families and improving communities.
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