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State’s community and technical colleges and the Department of Early Learning highlight parenting education; Gov. Inslee issues proclamation


Reading with Kids

Parents are children's first and most important teachers. However, parenthood doesn’t come with a training manual. So who teaches parents and caregivers?

Washington’s parenting education programs, offered at 20 community and technical colleges across the state.

To mark the 75th anniversary of parenting education programs in Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation declaring November 18-22 Parenting Education Week.

“People don’t think twice about taking classes to learn a trade, improve computer skills, musical talents, or cooking abilities,” said Barbara Smith, Skagit Valley College family life coordinator, parent educator, and Organization of Parenting Education Programs president. “But somehow, in our culture, parents think attending a parenting class might imply they are not good caregivers.”

“Parenting engagement is a core component of our state’s quality early learning programs,” said Dr. Bette Hyde, Washington State Department of Early Learning director. “Children are born learning, so it’s critical to help parents access parenting education and information.”

Extensive research shows the first five years of life greatly influence one’s eventual self-concept, ability to trust and relate to others, healthy brain development, and success in school. Parents who learn about child development, family relationships, safety, and nutrition help their children have better success rates in elementary and middle school, according to Smith.

In Washington, 840,845 households include one or more family members under age 18, according to the U.S. Census. Here are just a few reasons nearly 11,000 parents/caregivers participated in parenting education classes and programs statewide last year:

  • Information and resources: Parenting education courses provide parents with new knowledge and skills emphasizing the latest research and best practices in the field. Parents and caregivers can ask questions in a safe setting. They can explore and choose appropriate methods that work for their family situation or stage of their child's life.
  • Confidence: Whether parenting a newborn, adopted child, blended family, adolescent, or teen, parenting classes help participants become more confident caregivers. With a variety of tools and solutions at their disposal, parents are able to better manage new circumstances and everyday challenges of raising healthy children.
  • Friendship: The opportunity to socialize, support, and problem-solve with other parents can help combat the isolation and loneliness of parenting.

Edmonds College is one of 20 of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges and the only one in Snohomish County that offers parenting education classes.

The parenting education program offers baby and parent classes on a weekly basis in the college’s Center for Families childcare center. Classes are available for parents of babies from 3 months to three years old and include baby, infant/toddler, and Daddy and Me.

The classes focus on learning through play and include activities in art, music, math, creative drama, science, and language.

Cooperative preschool classes through Edmonds CC’s parent education program are also available for parents of two- to five-year-olds in Marysville, Lake Stevens, Snohomish, Lynnwood (at the Center for Families), Edmonds, and Mill Creek.

For more information on parenting education classes and programs at Edmonds College, call 425.640.1665 or visit www.edmonds.edu/pared.

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Parent Education at Edmonds College

The Department of Early Learning was created in 2006 to help to help create safe, healthy, nurturing learning experiences for all Washington children. DEL oversees the state-funded preschool program, child care licensing, early intervention services, Washington’s child care quality rating and improvement system, Strengthening Families Washington and other initiatives and programs to support parents as children’s first and most important teachers.  Contact: Kara Klotz, 360-725-4392 or kara.klotz@del.wa.gov.

The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges is led by a Governor-appointed board and provides leadership, advocacy, and coordination for Washington’s system of 34 public community and technical colleges. Each year, nearly 420,000 students train for the workforce, prepare to transfer to a university, gain basic math and English skills, or pursue continuing education. Contact:  Sherry Nelson, 360-704-4308 or slnelson@sbctc.edu.