An inclusive and holistic free parenting course began yesterday at Far North REAP Kaitaia.
Mātua Atawhai/Caring Parents is open to all parents and caregivers of children aged up to 18, and runs from 9.30am to 12.30pm for six consecutive Wednesdays from May 25 to June 29.
Nisah Beachen, 30, who's from Whangarei and has lived in Kaitaia since January, completed the course about two months ago.
Beachen said although she was an experienced mother with kids aged 2 to 14, she had benefited from attending.
"I learnt so much, even though I'm a mum of five and learned things I didn't even realise I was lacking in," Beachen said.
"For one, the importance of allowing your children to feel in control of decisions when playing pretend.
"This lets them hold the reins, then they know at other times it's their turn to listen and follow our lead.
"I put it into action and it made heaps of difference, even with my seven-year-old."
Maree Dickens, of the Parenting Education Team at Far North REAP, facilitates the programme with colleague Gypsy Taka and said parents and caregivers of all ages were welcome.
"A lot of young parents come," Dickens said.
"Age doesn't matter. It's open to all who want support on their parenting journey."
Dickens, 52, is a grandmother, and Taka, 26, a mother of two, so the duo offer a range of experience and a balance of perspectives.
"It makes it a really awesome learning space to have all generations sharing their knowledge," Dickens said.
Participants receive a journal at the first session, which they use to set at least one goal.
A weekly evaluation form allows them to specify the exact support they'd like and reflect on their progress.
The course focuses on Te Whare Tapa Whā, or the four cornerstones or pillars of Māori health developed by Mason Durie, and starts out with a focus on self-care planning.
Dickens said the course also draws heavily on resources from Tākai, a website supported by a team of community developers.
"Their resources are really valuable," Dickens said.
The course covers one of the six Tākai principles each week: warmth & love, talking & listening, guidance & understanding, limits & boundaries, consistency & consequences, and structure & security.
It also features speakers from agencies and organisations, ranging in specialties from tamariki nutrition and dental hygiene, to the importance of play and anything parents indicated they were interested in learning about.
"We're always looking to include different speakers," Dickens said.
"We collaborate with whoever we can to get the best outcomes for our whānau."
Dickens said past groups had shown an interest in remaining connected after the course, so REAP now runs a Coffee Korēro Group for parents and caregivers on Monday mornings.
Mother of five Beachen advised anyone struggling in their parenting journey or looking for support to come along.
"Give it a shot," she said.
"The whole place is very friendly, very light, very interesting and very supportive in every aspect."
Interested participants can call Far North REAP to join the group from next week and were welcome to a catch-up session to fit their schedule.
To register, contact Maree Dickens at Far North REAP via email: email@example.com or call:408 1380 extension 730 or or Gypsy Taka on: firstname.lastname@example.org or 408–1380 Ext 712.
Parents, caregivers and whānau supporters can also access evidence-based child development information and resources at: takai.nz
The next new session of Mātua Atawhai/Caring Parents begins on Wednesday, July 13.