No one person is born knowing how to parent perfectly. Whether this is your first baby, second child or you have a hefty brood that's big enough to make your own sports team, parent education programs can help you lay a solid foundation for parenting by teaching you about early childhood development.
According to the Administration for Children and Families, parent education programs help enhance child rearing practices by teaching parents about age-appropriate milestones, child development and discipline techniques. There is no single topic that a parent education program covers, but a variety of them. While choosing a program for a specific age range will help narrow down the focus of topics, educational workshops and classes may include an abundance of topics to help parents understand their child's development. While some programs may focus on helping parents better understand the young child's development or behaviors, others may center on specific issues that affect the child's emotional state or behaviors. For example, the Probate and Family Court Department in Boston offers parent education programs for couples who are in the process of divorcing. These programs help parents understand the effects that a divorce has on a child's emotions and development.
Parent education programs for parents of young children are held at an array of venues. Depending on the specific program that you are looking for, you will need to pick a place that matches your needs. For example, if you want to know more about why your child should go to preschool, attend a workshop on early learning at your local child care or pre-k school. Community centers, medical facilities, colleges and universities, child development organizations and government health or child welfare departments also typically offer these classes.
Parent-Child Interactive Programs
If sitting in a classroom to learn about how your child develops and what to do when he exhibits specific behaviors sounds like a bore, check out more interactive options. Some parents may need a more hands-on approach to learning about the early childhood period, necessitating a parent-child class. These programs may feature time for actually interacting with your child, under the supervision of a trained professional, in order to try out activities and discipline strategies. For example, the parent eduction program at Shoreline Community College in Washington offers a preschool classroom component in which parents and children can play together under the watchful gaze of an instructor. This, in conjunction with lectures, provides parents with real-world tools to build better parenting skills.
While taking a parent education program is almost always helpful for any parent, some classes or workshops simply aren't optional. Parents who are in the midst of a legal issue involving custody or suspected child abuse may have no choice but to take an education program. The National Center for Children in Poverty notes that younger children in the early childhood period have a higher rate of maltreatment than do older kids. Court-ordered parent education programs can help parents deal with the stresses of child rearing, understand how to positively interact with their kids, use appropriate forms of discipline and understand how they can affect their children's emotional and physical state.