The Morehouse Parish School System knows that parenting can be challenging and isn't really a skill that is taught like others, which is why they are offering parenting classes on Saturdays starting September 22.

“Parenting is probably the only profession in the world with little to no training,” said Child Welfare and Attendance Supervisor Ralph Davenport.

The School System notes that parenting classes can be helpful in a number of ways such as providing knowledge of the latest research, teaching parents how to match parenting style to a child's personality, helping parents gain confidence and develop a support network.

These particular classes, lasting from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., will teach parents the basics of child development, appropriate discipline, help parents recognize their strength, and put them into contact with local resources and fellow parents that can help. Parents will also learn to use positive reinforcement and enact consistent consequences for negative behavior. The classes are for parents of children of any age up to 12th grade. Lunch will be provided.

“It's going to be very informal, and we're just going to talk together and share our experiences,” said Davenport.

The classes will be taught by Gaytha Haynes formerly of the Children's Coalition. She has expertise in the Positive Parenting Curriculum which will be used. The curriculum, otherwise known as the Positive Parenting Program, is universal and has 35 years of research behind it. Haynes hopes the classes will have a positive impact on parents in the community.

“The goal for me is that parents will have a positive experience and come away learning new parenting strategies,” she said. “We also want to assist in reducing risk behaviors in children and offset involvement with drugs, alcohol and violence.”

Haynes made clear that the classes will be taught in a welcoming atmosphere.

“Parents will be provided information in a non-judgmental environment,” she said.

The program is being funded by Title I. Title I is overseen by Federal Programs Director Jesse Winston Jr.. Winston, like Haynes, hopes the program will make a difference in the community.

“Its a positive thing that we are trying to do to reach out and help the community get involved in children's education,” “We want parents to know that they are the first teachers a child has growing up.”

Overall, Winston wants to see local children succeed and help give parents the tools to help them do so.

“We want to help parents help their kids succeed academically, socially, and emotionally,” said Winston.

These classes will be taught three Saturdays a month. Classes are free, and anyone interested can contact Ralph Davenport at 318-283-3467 or 318-281-2166.