The Government will announce a trial of free parenting classes today in a bid to help strengthen 'positive relationships in the family'.
Children's minister Sarah Teather stresses classes are intended for all parents, even those who are not 'struggling' with raising their children. She says that Government has a 'moral' duty to support all parents.
She said: "The overwhelming evidence, from all the experts, is that a child's development in the first five years of their life is the single biggest factor influencing their future life chances, health and educational attainment.
"Armed with all this evidence, it is the Government's moral and social duty to make sure we support all parents at this critical time. Parents have one of the toughest and most important jobs – but unlike so many other areas of our lives, they don't get a training manual or a how-to guide."
Ms Teather explained that the classes will be for everyone: "I want to get rid of the stigma attached to asking for help. Parenting classes aren't just for struggling families with complex problems. All parents should know it's ok to ask for extra support and guidance when they need it – just as most do when they attend ante-natal classes before their child is born."
The classes will be trialled across Middlesbrough, High Peak, and Camden, where around 50,000 parents will be offered vouchers for the sessions which will run from mid-2012. The classes will be open to parents with children of five and under.
The classes are likely to cover the promotion of positive behaviour with better communication and listening skills, how to manage conflict, the importance of mothers and fathers working as a team, appropriate play for age/development, how to understand the importance of boundaries and routines to children, how to dispense firm, fair and consistent approaches to discipline, and how to strengthen positive relationships in the family.
The classes come as research reveals that around three-quarters of parents say they want information and support to help their parenting.
Ed Owen, editor of fatherhood website daddybegood.com broadly agrees with the plans, saying:
"Every teacher, psychologist and educationalist will tell you that the first years of a child's life are important. Some suggest that the first two years are decisive. This does not mean that every child must be schooled, drilled and disciplined to make them model citizens at this young age. No, it means that in the first years children must be loved."
"As long as these parenting classes are conducted positively, and do not risk alienating parents who may need help the most, then this could be a great scheme and have important social benefits as those kids grow."
What do you think?
Would you welcome the opportunity to attend parenting classes, or do you think it is all a Coalition gimmick?