By: Peter Toogood
We are used to thinking of school as a place where we send our kids to learn. The family consultant program is one way in which Allen Creek Preschool also provides an opportunity for parents to learn. Among other roles, the family consultants, experts in child development, lead fortnightly evening meetings with parents. While the family consultants act as catalyst and guide, parents do most of the talking. In this way, parents have an opportunity to learn from each other.
It is reassuring, particularly as a first-time parent, to realize that you are not the only family struggling with [add your particular concern here]. Often other parents are the best resource for information and advice. You may choose to seek input from the group before launching your next experiment in parenting upon your unsuspecting family. The informal, non-threatening environment of Parent Groups provides an opportunity for social bonding too.
Parents share experiences, frustrations and concerns with other parents whose children are the same age and stage of development. Can these conversations occur outside of family consultant meetings? Of course. Do they? Less than one might expect in my experience. It is valuable to have quiet time set aside on the calendar for focusing solely on our child’s development and what and how we are doing as parents.
In truth, I rather miss those opportunities for guided reflection now that our son is older and in elementary school. We quickly get wrapped up in activities: sports, bands, all manner of clubs. Discussions become more about what our children are doing, rather than how they are developing. It is more work to seek out information and advice on how to address bigger kid topics, such as video games, social media, bullying, puberty. So my advice is to take advantage of the family consultant program while you can. You’ll be a more confident, better informed parent as a result. And you’ll miss it later!
Peter Toogood is an alumni parent and a current Allen Creek Preschool Board member.