JIS News

Many parents are benefiting from the Parenting Programme being offered by the Manchester Early Childhood Training Centre, located at Church Teachers’ College in Mandeville.
“I feel very good. It has taught me a lot. It has taught me to be a better parent and has enabled me to upgrade my crochet skill and motivated me to move on to Early Childhood Training in Development Care,” Fay Lewis tells JIS News.
“I have already done level 1 and I am now on to level 2, and on a whole, the programme has helped me to be a better person,” she adds.
Miss Lewis is just one of many parents who have been trained in the parenting programme which began in 1987 and expanded in 2004, with assistance from the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust.
Project Officer of the Trust, Dazy Williams, tells JIS News that, “we work with a number of parents in each group. We educate them to become better parents; we get resource persons to work along with them, to come in and speak with them, and to give them lectures and demonstrations, so that they are better able to care for their own children”.
“They are also asked to pass on the information to the other parents in the Parent Teachers Association(PTA), so that they can be motivated as well,” she adds.
According to Mrs. Williams, the programme was expanded two years ago with the help of the Trust, and they are able to visit other sites in the parish to train parents.
“We have monthly training, when the parents meet. The first part is education, so one of the resource persons will speak to them on a particular topic, they would do group work, then they would have feedback and discussion,” Mrs. Williams explains.
“The second segment is skills training, where we teach them a number of skills, for instance crochet, the making of stuffed toys and embroidery. We find out what skills they come with and if they have a skill that is not perfected, we help them to perfect it, so that they can produce quality products,” she adds.
Exquisite dolls, crochet swim wear, an assortment of floral decorations and stuffed toys are just a few of the quality products that the parents from the training programme have been making. Their first-class designs have even led to an invitation to participate in the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) Christmas Fair, to be held on Friday, December 15, this year.
Parents can become a part of the programme by getting information from the basic schools which their children attend. “We normally ask the basic schools to invite them to the programme, so the schools will send them. Sometimes they are a bit reluctant because they do not know what it’s all about, but with testimonies from parents, they are encouraged to come,” the Project Officer tells JIS News.
She points out that from a large school, “we take 2 or 3 parents.from a small school we take one and they are to relate to the rest of the parents through the PTAs what they have learnt”.
“We help them to learn a skill if they do not come with one. Many of them have been able to learn skills and they have done well with them. They have even been able to sell their products, to get some money to help themselves and their children,” Mrs. Williams says.
The programme, which commences in October of each year and ends in November the following year, has grown a lot. From just a few parents in 1987 to 12 per year from 2001 to 2004, it currently facilitates approximately 50 parents from the three sites at Mile Gully, Mandeville and Christiana in Manchester.
Mrs. Williams points out that some [parents] have found employment, and some have gone on to further their education. “There is one lady who has gone on to Shorthood Teachers’ College and some of them are doing the NCTVET level 1 and level 2 courses,” she adds.
Miss Lewis, who is from Mile Gully, tells JIS News that she is currently doing a programme, “teaching the women how to crochet, in the evenings. I also make ornamental dolls, shirts, T-shirts and bath suits as well”.
“Later on I may go to drapes and bed spreads,” she notes, adding that “sales have been coming on very well, and this has helped me out in some hard times, financially”.
Another enthused parent, Sharon Chaplin tells JIS News that, “from I started in November I’ve learnt many things. I have learnt about childhood disabilities and communicating with our children. I have been able to relate to my child better and to set a better example for him”.
Denise Johnson from May Day district says the programme allows you to learn “how to deal with the children from an earlier age. Sometimes we think that it’s when they get bigger we should communicate with them and show them the right thing, or hug them, kiss them and love them. Sometimes we tend to rush them when they come to us, but now I understand that we should be patient with them and try to interact with them and play with them”.
Mrs. Johnson stresses that parents should come in and be a part of the programme, because every parent can learn and every parent must.
“What is being taught here is really a good opportunity for any parent. Some of the times when we are at home we just sit down not doing anything, but being a part of this really motivates me. Coming to interact with the other parents.we share what my child might be doing, what another parent child might be doing and we share our views on how to deal with the situations that we are going through,” she says.
“We are hoping that the education they have received will be passed on to other parents and that they will help to grow their children a little better than they knew how before, so that this new crop of Jamaicans will be better,” Mrs. Williams tells JIS News.
“We also hope that the skills they have learnt will enable them to work and earn and to make themselves independent and to help their children in school,” she adds.