It's one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs one that people tend to feel the least prepared for but typically do their best with what they have or have learned from others. It's parenting, and there are classes coming up to help parents learn some more tricks of the trade.
The North Dakota State University Extension Service Parent Resource Center will be offering parenting classes starting Sept. 9 and continuing throughout the school year. The classes are designed to help people parent young or older children and offer practical information, resources and educational opportunities.
If you are a parent, foster parent, guardian, grandparent or childcare provider, these classes might strike an interest.
Children play in the water at the splash pad at Oak Park on a recent afternoon as their mothers keep a watchful eye on them. Parenting can be a tough but rewarding job, and the NDSU Extension Service Parent Resource Center will be offering parenting classes starting in September and continuing through the school year.
Sessions are offered one time a year and early registration is encouraged. People can call 857-6450 to register and learn where the class site is. All classes are held in Minot. Classes are free, except for Parents Forever, and are funded by the Department of Human Services, Children & Family Services Division, Child Protection Program. If there aren't enough participants, classes will be canceled. Some of the series also will be registered with North Dakota Growing Futures for childcare providers.
Classes included in the upcoming session are Building Strong Families, Love and Logic for the Young Child, Active Parenting Now in 3, Signing with Jolene, Nurtured Heart, Common Sense Parenting, Bright Beginnings as well as a variety of others.
Holly Arnold, coordinator of the educational sessions and NDSU Extension agent, said this is the sixth year that the Extension has offered the classes. They have tried to grow the program each year and try to find the pulse of the community to find out what residents wanted in educational opportunities.
"These are just a core group of free community classes," Arnold said. "Parenting classes aren't just for parents. They're for anybody. Every time I teach or read things, then I become a better parent, so it's a learning tool."
The classes try to target everyone in general, Arnold said, and she tries to get diversity in all of the sessions.
"I don't think parenting comes with an instruction book," Arnold said, explaining why the classes are offered. "What worked in our grandparents' generation doesn't work in this day."
Parents are learning new tools at these classes, she added. No matter what, Arnold continued, parents leave with something they can incorporate with their family at home.
Some of the classes are better attended than others, Arnold said. There's a stigma in that people tend to think the classes are for bad parents or for parents who are struggling, she continued, but the goal is getting parents in general to come through the door.
"Once they come to one class, we'll see them again in another class," she said.
One of the more popular classes is Love and Logic, Arnold said. It's a video-based parenting class for parents of young children. The five sessions illustrate parenting techniques that emphasize respect, empathy, logic and limits. Another popular class is Signing with Jolene, where students learn basic sign language. People want to learn sign language for many different reasons, Arnold said, such as for communicating with young children.
There also will be two new classes offered this session: Common Sense Parenting and Nurtured Heart.
Common Sense Parenting teaches parents practical and effective ways to increase their children's positive behaviors, decrease negative behaviors and teach children appropriate alternative behaviors. It will be offered March 31.
Nurtured Heart, which will start Jan. 7, will help parents acquire effective techniques to address difficult and intense child behaviors that will result in improved behaviors at home, school and in public. Arnold said Nurtured Heart will be a follow-up to a day-long workshop that was held this past year.
Parents have found the parenting classes to be very helpful, Arnold said. A lot of the classes include a handbook for parents to take home with them, she added.
"The classes are helpful because the parents hear what they're doing right and learn they're not the only ones struggling and not alone," Arnold said. "With these different techniques, things can get better."
She said she's always thrilled when someone comes back after trying a technique and tells her that it worked.
"Parenting is lifelong and you learn as you go, and this is another tool in your toolbox," Arnold said about the parenting classes.