This year’s theme for Adult Learners Week is how learning changes lives. But nothing changes your life more than becoming a parent. But it’s not something you learn at school. We’re expected to pick it up somewhere along the way, presumably by watching how others do it.
It’s something we’re supposed to learn from our parents. But if you haven’t had good parenting yourself it can be hard to know where to begin. For young parents in their late teens and early 20s who have only just reached adulthood it can be even harder.
Community classes that bring young parents together to learn how to be better mums and dads can really make a difference.
For 20 year-old Bundaberg mum Caitlin, being at home with 2 children under 2 was an isolating experience, made worse by her shyness. When she joined a local parenting class at first she was apprehensive, expecting it might be hard to find a place in an already established group. To her surprise, she got a warm welcome.
Everyone was really friendly. That first class they took us all on an outing to the beach with the kids. I really liked it so I went back.
While the kids play the parents learn practical ways to develop more enjoyable and effective interactions with their children, developing their communication skills and confidence as parents along the way.
I enjoyed school but this is a different kind of learning. As a new mum it’s like you’re learning on the job. There are no textbooks to help you.
The classes also provided a space for parents to develop a peer support network and new friendships blossomed. Caitlin’s seen big changes in herself.
It’s been really good, it’s really helped my parenting. It’s taught me ways to cope better with my two year old, especially when she has tantrums.
I’m calmer too. I don’t feel like I’m stuck indoors. I can get out of the house and meet with the group and be a person not just a mum.
Read more about Caitlin’s story and the parenting class.