Center provides free parenting workshops

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By LUCIA ESPINO

sac-ranger@alamo.edu 

Free workshops are available for any parent or legal guarding planning to enroll their child at the college’s early childhood center.

Those interested must attend three workshops every semester, Claudia Gonzalez, early childhood center coordinator, said.

The early childhood studies department will sponsor four parenting workshops, presented by Precious Minds New Connections this semester.

This program creates a fun and creative environment to help parents navigate the experience of parenting and aims to teach parents how to help their children reach their full potential.

Workshops have been funded by Kronkosky Charitable Foundation for seven years at no cost to the department.

Subjects include “Emotional Development” Oct. 30 and Nov. 9, and “Brain Development” Nov. 16 and 27.

The last day to make up any workshops is Dec. 5. Workshops are 2 p.m.-4 p.m. in Room 120 of the visual arts center. “Nurturing Families” was the topic for the first parenting workshop on Sept. 25.

Assistant facilitator Kelly Gillespie explained the principles of nurturing families by using a mind map. She said there are attachment, empathy, nurturing yourself, gentle touch, discipline, expressing feelings, expectations and self-worth.

A mind map is great way to keep children focused on what needs to be done or things guardians want children to know.

Gillespie recommended using drawings and colors they are familiar with and can be easily remembered.

A mind map is a diagram with words or pictures surrounding one central idea. It is used to resemble how the brain works.

Gillespie quoted author Stephen Covey’s “Begin With the End in Mind” to ask parents to think about what kind of adult they want their child to be.

Parents said they want their children to be educated, confident, honest, respectful, goal-oriented, and optimistic, among other characteristics when they are adults.

Gillespie said the No. 1 reason children continue their education is parent involvement and they learn by example so parents have to practice what they preach.

Patti Lozano, director of Precious Minds New Connections, emphasized the importance of parents taking care of themselves as much as they do for their child.

Parents have to remember that simple things like taking a shower and having a good meal, enough sleep and even a night out can help release the stress of everyday life.

“The times that I regret how I talked or yelled at my kids were the times when I wasn’t taking care of myself,” Lozano said. “You guys can’t be the best parents you all can be if you don’t take care of you first.”

Lozano also explained showing empathy to a child tells them the parent understands what they are going through, and helps the parent understand why the child behaves a certain way.

“Think for a moment that you are as frustrating to them as they can be to you some times,” Lozano said. “Stepping into the shoes of that child will really help you (parent) understand them better.”

One reason parents need to learn how to express feelings to their child is that it builds trust from child to parent, Lozano said.

Another reason is when parents keep all their bad or sad feelings inside, they usually come out during stressful times with words and expressions that they might regret, Lozano added.

Parents need to have expectations for their child. If parents have no or low expectations, the child will meet those and not reach their full potential, she said.

High expectations can also be harmful if children fail to meet them because it will affect the child’s self-worth, she said.

Having the appropriate expectations for each child according to their learning, mental and physical abilities is important in the development of a child’s self-worth, she said.

At the end of the workshop, Lozano asked the parents to have a family meeting and listen to what their children have to say.

“Letting them speak does not mean they get to do whatever they want, but it helps them with expressing their feelings and trusting the parents,” she said.

As a homework assignment, parents were encouraged to do one thing for themselves during the week. Lozano said nurtured parents and children equals nurtured families.

To qualify for the services, student parents must:

• Be enrolled for at least six hours in the fall or spring.

• Be eligible to receive state needs-based funds, such as the Pell Grant, SEOG, TANF, Lone Star card, WIC or Medicaid.

• Be in good academic standing at the conclusion of the current semester or a minimum 2.0 GPA.

• Submit with the application a copy of the most current income tax return.

The early childhood center offers two grants, the Carl Perkins Dependent Care Services and the Child Care Access Means Parents in School.

The DCS grant is only for professional and technical majors and reduces the cost for childcare to $35 a week per child for 16 weeks.

The CCAMPIS grant is a sliding scale tuition slot and the parent is responsible for paying $25 or $35 a week per child for 16 weeks, depending on the parent’s income.

Gonzalez said students need to apply as soon as they register for classes and have all required documents.

The center only admits children ages 1 to 4 years old, with a capacity of 60 children per semester.

Gonzalez said the waiting list can be up to 30 children. During fall to spring admissions, returning students will have priority, but all students must reapply every fall for child care services.

The center is accredited by the National Association of the Education of Young Children. NAEYC-accredited centers must promote positive relationships, effective teaching approaches, promote good nutrition and health, and provide a safe physical environment and high-quality experiences.

For information on the workshops, call 210-804-0927. For information about the application process, call 210-486-0500 or visit the early childhood center at 210 W. Ashby.

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