“Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher and home is the most important classroom”. But they need skills and support to help their children develop and thrive. Also, many children in South Africa still do not have access to formal early learning opportunities. HOPE worldwide SA’s Parenting programme is seeking to change that, and we are sharing it with other organisations. At the end of May, we trained sixteen representatives from seven ECD NGOs across South Africa on how to use a transformational approach to engage parents in Early Childhood Development.
The training took place at our head office in Johannesburg. Organizations that attended the training were: Bulungula Incubator, ELRU, Hi Hopes, Lesedi, Letcee, Midlands Community College, and Penreach. The training was generously funded by the Tshikululu Social Investments.
The four-day workshop aimed to help build the capacity of the organisations in parenting approaches that enhance the ability of primary caregivers to provide a nurturing, stimulating and enabling environment for their children. Topics covered included; Transformational Facilitations Skills, Building Caregiver Self-Esteem, Positive Parenting Skills, Attachment Bonding, Starting and facilitating a Parent Support Groups and Monitoring and Evaluation
The training required participants to reflect on their own lives and upbringing, and consider how the way they were parented influences how they parent and can affect programme implementation.
Participants shared; “I learned that everybody has pain from their pasts, and that pain is different for everyone. So it’s important to understand where our parents in our programmes are coming from,”
“I never realized that I am so wounded by my past, every day I carry on as though everything is fine and yet that is not true” I need to deal with my own personal problems so that I can help others.”
On the last day of the training, the trainees visited Diepsloot where they could observe a Parent Support Group (PSG)first hand. Many of the mothers in the PSG shared their hardships and challenges with their children, the hurts they’ve experienced throughout their lives, but also their victories and progress. The training group was astonished at the level of vulnerability in the PSG and the family atmosphere that the facilitators created.
One of the participants lost her son and she and the child’s mother were left to raise a two-month old. Within the training was one of the first times she felt safe enough to talk about it. “Before I couldn’t talk about it, but now I can. I can tell people my story so that they feel comfortable to share what they’ve been through. I can start with myself.”
Another participant shared, “There is transparency in the workshop, learning requires being open. This allowed me to see the gaps in my program. We want to work on not only looking at attendance rates… it is important that the parents understand their pasts.” The training will be followed up with on site mentoring sessions as participants return to their organisations to implement what they have learned. For many participants, the training was more than just a skill building workshop, it touched them personally. HOPE ww SA Country Director Marc Aguirre explained, “Giving information to parents about ECD is good, but it’s not good enough. Parenting programmes need to be transformational.”
HOPE worldwide SA plans to train much more NGOs in the approach so that many more caregivers and children’s’ lives can be transformed.
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By Maya Birden, Percy Matshoba and Nicole McConnell – Media & Marketing