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Parents As First Teachers – A Personal Success Story

By Pat Albertson

Our involvement with PAFT started thirteen months ago with the birth of our third child, and the benefits that I have gained from being in the programme have been huge.

It seems like nobody really teaches you how to be a parent, and your own parents’ well-meant advice does not seem altogether relevant for life in the stressful success-oriented 21st Century.

To feel totally inadequate as a parent, all you need to do is turn on the TV to hear hysterical statistics like “50% of all New Zealand children are achieving at below average levels in school’, followed by an advertisement to buy the ‘Reading Master’ for only five easy payments of whatever amount.

I was afraid that our PAFT worker would come on about how we needed to put in 25 hours a day to teach our pre-kindy children their twelve times tables so that we could bring them up as little hothouse wonderkids.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. Our PAFT worker has done huge amounts to reassure us that we are doing okay as parents, and that our kids are developing fine and meeting all their pre-educational milestones.

The individualised focus has enable us to bring up concerns specific to our family, as well as build up a relationship of mutual trust and respect that would be impossible in a group situation.

In fact with three very young kids, I don’t know when we would even have time or energy to attend group sessions outside the home.

As well as the support and reassurance that we desperately needed, our PAFT worker has given us plenty of ideas and resources to help us work with (as opposed to push) the kids as they learn and develop.

Since the Education Minister Mallard’s press release would indicate that most currently enrolled families will be able to complete the programme, it is unlikely that we will be affected by the changes to PAFT personally.

However, with fewer places on offer in the future, it seems a great shame that other families are likely to miss out on this valuable programme which addresses such a critical time in the lives of both children and parents.

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