Everyone can stand to take a refresher course now and then, especially when it comes to figuring out ways to help sometimes-puzzling children.
Parent University is a free seminar that will be held this weekend by McDonell Area Catholic Schools and the Chippewa Falls School District. The schools are working to bring parents together to offer each other support and learn about the resources to help their kids.
It’s been designed to present no football conflict, unless you are a Vikings fan.
“We didn’t want to have it on a Packers day Sunday,” said Jennifer Griggs-Andress, director of the Voyagers Community Learning Center and ATOD Prevention for the Chippewa Falls School District. (While the Packers have a bye week, the Vikings play the Steelers in London Sunday.)
As of Wednesday, 65 families had registered to attend the Saturday session at McDonell Central High School, and roughly the same had registered for Sunday’s session at Chippewa Falls Middle School.
McDonnell held Parent University last year, although on a smaller scale.
Mary Huffcutt, the vice president of the private school’s academic affairs and leadership department, tried out the idea using a grant at a college in Illinois. That session drew nearly 100 percent of parents, she said.
“We started this community of parents just taking off,” Huffcutt said, adding that research shows children experience more success if parents are involved in their lives.
McDonell was looking at bringing back Parent University when it got a call from the public school district.
“We were on the same page,” Huffcutt said.
The schools will have their own sessions and topics.
Griggs-Andress said sessions at the middle school will include speakers from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and UW-Stout, Chippewa Valley Technical College and L.E. Phillips Libertas Center, along with a panel about family activities that are free or low cost.
She said there will be representatives of the Chippewa Family YMCA, the Heyde Center for the Arts, the Chippewa Falls Boys and Girls Club and the Chippewa Falls Parks and Recreation Department. Plus 25 community agencies will have display tables in the commons area of the middle school.
Huffcutt said McDonell based its topics on the results of a survey that showed common themes and thoughts of parents.
Some of McDonell’s sessions include:
- Creating resiliency in our children and saying no doesn’t have to hurt, both by Tom Kidd.
- Embracing technology while keeping children safe, by Jill Hietpas.
- Personality insights, by Paul McDonald.
- Brain coaching, by Sandra Sunquist Stanton.
Father Frank Corradi of St. Joseph’s Hospital will be the keynote speaker.
The middle school will offer four 45-minute sessions, which include:
- Teen driving: What parents need to know.
- Teen employment.
- Dating and healthy relationships.
- Raising your teen should be fun, not draining.
Superintendent Dr. Brad Saron will welcome parents at 3:30 p.m. Griggs-Andress said parents will also be given tips on using technology so they can keep up with their children.
She said a similar Parents University will be held by the school district in the spring for parents of elementary school students.