As parents, most of us take on the job without training; we usually spend more time preparing for a driver’s license test.
~Kronkosky Charitable Foundation website
Parenting classes weren’t on our radar, and in fact, it was only when we were visiting potential preschools for Ilana that we stumbled on the information about Precious Minds, New Connections (PMNC) parenting classes. We were already parents and doing a pretty swell job at it; that isn’t to say parenting was a breeze or that we knew everything. Information, free food, childcare included, and (we found out at the first class) you get an incentive at the end of each class? Why isn’t every parent in San Antonio doing this?
Ben squeezed into the full evening class, and I took the morning PMNC classes with a dear friend of mine who’d signed up as well.
Precious Minds, New Connections classes are offered around San Antonio and the surrounding areas and are funded through the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, fulfilling the Foundation’s mission to “produce ‘profound good’.” Class content is based on extensive research into early childhood development, research showing that 80-90% of a person’s brain develops by the age of three. These classes, offered at no cost to the caregiver(s), provide access to information and tools needed to make the child’s first three years as productive and positive as possible.*
Over the first sessions of the 10-week class, you begin to understand the classes aren’t a gotcha type of thing, nor are they a place to hear about THE parenting-thing you should do or the ONLY effective parenting method.
Quite the opposite, the classes foster an environment for other parents to share virtually identical struggles and the opportunity to discuss parenting practices we sometimes revert to that only exhaust and frustrate us. I can’t be the only one who sometimes finds herself wondering mid-power struggle why I am clinging so much to this idea that she has to have a ponytail or that she must wear her jacket. (I am not advocating not to dress your child warmly…but, as I learned in class: is it that big of a deal to bring the jacket along and wait for her to get cold, then bust that jacket out like a super hero??)
I have found that I learned to and continue to learn to see my children’s perspectives more readily, to practice empathy as often as I can, and to always try to effectively and purposefully discipline. PMNC classes celebrate moving through your child’s life as their guide, and on those days that happen, days when patience avoids, frustration runs free, to-do’s are many, and energy is gone… strategies learned from the course definitely help me out in a big way.
Attending Precious Minds, New Connections classes has given me a of buffet of knowledge based both on research and on the experiences and expertise of the instructors. As participants, we are given tools to help carve out the journey of child rearing, a lot of the tools mentioned are tailored to our class discussions. The more ideas I have in my toolkit, the less likely I am to become discouraged and frustrated.
–A Few Tips from the Classes–
85% Aiming to praise a young child for doing something terrific 85% of time and modeling acceptable behavior (for your family) 85% of the time will make the parenting experience better for everyone.
‘Mystery Bite’ This strategy was offered by one of the JCC site PMNC class teachers, Cindy Berman. Try telling your child they are going to ‘play’ Mystery Bite. The rules? They close their eyes, you put the food they are avoiding on the fork (in our house, cooked vegetables are the usual culprit) and the kiddo tastes their way to guessing the mystery they are eating. Ilana loves playing mystery bite and is so proud when she guesses the food.
If You When You…., Then You… Prior to PMNC classes asking me to think about my parenting objectively, I didn’t even realize that I sometimes said If you statements to Ilana (i.e. Ilana, if you pick up your toys, we can go on a walk).
Replacing the If with a When changes the weight of the whole statement. Where If implies a choice, changing If to When makes your statement sound like it is an eventuality instead of a possibility. When you pick up your toys, we will be able to go on a walk.
Choice can move the most stubborn of mountains. Nine out of ten times we offer Ilana a choice, she chooses one and moves along. The only tricky part is structuring the choice to go along with what is best for her and the family. Ilana always fights nap time, so a choice kind of like this can work to get the goal accomplished: “Would you like to hop to bed or robot walk to bed? Would you like to have a nap and then snack, or a nap and then art time?”
I last took PMNC classes when Ilana was eighteen months old. The challenges I dealt with then have faded and morphed into new(ish) behaviors, some requiring loads of individual attention. So for me, at this point of my parenting journey, what better place to share than with a room of other parents who are also there to learn? I am currently four classes into my second helping of Precious Minds, New Connections classes. Having knowledge is always a good thing, and there’s something about sitting in a classroom with other parents, sharing triumphs and struggles not too different from my own, that make the challenges of parenthood a little more exciting and welcomed, if for no other reason than to have tools to focus and swiftly move through the bumpy spots that will surely come.
The PMNC site I am familiar with is the Barshop Jewish Community Center. Classes at this site offer childcare, a light meal, and some kind of an incentive at the end of class (usually a nice board book). Both of the teachers at the JCC site, Cindy Berman and Amy Sugarman, are fantastic.
Visit Precious Minds, New Connections page for information about class offerings and how to register. Classes are offered at convenient times around the city and surrounding areas.
*Information lifted from PMNC webpage.