“I learned things that I didn’t even realize I was missing,” said Nisah Beachen, seen here with four of her five children. Photo / Provided
A free inclusive and holistic parenting course kicked off yesterday at Far North REAP Kaitaia.
Mātua Atawhai/Caring Parents is open to all parents and guardians of children under the age of 18 and runs from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for six consecutive Wednesdays from May 25 to June 29.
Nisah Beachen, 30, from Whangarei and living in Kaitaia since January, completed the course about two months ago.
Beachen said that although she was an experienced mother with children aged 2 to 14, she had benefited from her participation.
“I learned so much, even though I’m a mom of five and I learned things that I didn’t even realize I was missing,” Beachen said.
“On the one hand, the importance of allowing your children to feel in control of decisions when playing pretend.
“It allows them to hold the reins, and then they know that at other times it’s their turn to listen and follow our example.
“I put it into action and it made a huge difference, even with my seven-year-old son.”
Maree Dickens, from Far North REAP’s parenting education team, facilitates the program with colleague Gypsy Taka and said parents and carers of all ages are welcome.
“A lot of young parents come,” Dickens said.
“Age doesn’t matter. It’s open to anyone who wants support on their parenting journey.”
Dickens, 52, is a grandmother and Taka, 26, a mother of two. The duo therefore offers a range of experiences and a balance of perspectives.
“It makes for a really great learning space for all generations to share their knowledge,” Dickens said.
Participants receive a journal during the first session, which they use to set at least one goal.
A weekly evaluation form allows them to specify the exact support they want and to reflect on their progress.
The course focuses on Te Whare Tapa Whā, or the four cornerstones or pillars of Maori health developed by Mason Durie, and begins by focusing 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 and Love, Speaking and Listening, Guiding and Understanding, Boundaries and Limits, Consistency and Consequences, and Structure and Safety.
It also features guest speakers from agencies and organizations, with specialties ranging from tamariki nutrition to dental hygiene, the importance of play, and everything parents have indicated they want to learn.
“We’re always looking to include different speakers,” Dickens said.
“We collaborate with whoever we can to get the best results for our whānau.”
Dickens said previous groups have shown an interest in staying connected after class, so REAP now runs a Coffee Korēro group for parents and caregivers on Monday mornings.
A mother of five, Beachen advised anyone struggling with their parenting journey or looking for support to come along.
“Try it,” she said.
“The whole place is very friendly, very light, very interesting and very supportive in all aspects.”
Interested participants can call Far North REAP to join the group starting next week and have been invited to a catch-up session to suit their schedule.
Parents, carers and supporters of whānau can also access evidence-based child development information and resources at: takai.nz
The next new Mātua Atawhai/Caring Parents session begins on Wednesday, July 13.