Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Building Confidence as a Parent - At the First Annual Fort McMurray Parent Conference

Yesterday I wrote about being a mother, and about how having a child is a complete leap of faith. And that's true, of course, because we have faith in our children and in the world to be a safe place for them. The one place where on occasion we fail to have faith is in our own abilities as parents.

Before my daughter was born I read a lot of books on pregnancy and infants. It was a virtual tsunami of books in my house, and you found them in every single room. I had so many questions about such basic things, and most of them were the very practical things, like health care and nutrition. As the time of my daughter's birth grew closer, though, I realized I had questions that I really had no idea how to answer. They were things like how to make my daughter love to read, and how to make sure her mind was actively engaged in the world. The questions morphed from the very basic ones into ones that were far more intricate - and I felt in over my head a bit, too.

That's why I was intrigued when the Fort McMurray Early Years Coalition sent me some information about a Parent Conference coming up on May 4th in our community. They have partnered with Childhood Studies at Keyano College and are presenting a day-long conference for parents to answer some of the very questions I had about parenting. And the line up of topics looks fascinating, from dealing with picky eaters to understanding stress in children. The conference is meant to help equip parents with the tools they need to raise their children, and to allow them to explore some new ideas about parenting.

The cost of the conference is kept low (it only costs $20 to attend) and the information provided is broad. I think what is truly of value, though, is bringing together parents from different experiences and demographics and not only having them listen to speakers but creating an atmosphere where they can share their parenting ideas with each other. In the end in my own life it was an online "mommy network" that helped me to work out many of the parenting dilemmas I faced, but it would have been far nicer to have been able to attend an event that not only provided me with the information but facilitated such discussions with people in my own community.

I've included information about the conference straight from the organizers below. If you are interested in attending you can register through Event Brite right here. And in my opinion if you are a parent with questions (and aren't we all once we become parents?) then this is quite likely a place you want to be this weekend. I think parenting is uncertain territory where we often have more questions than answers - and where we often doubt ourselves. While no conference can tell us everything we need to know about being parents (trust me, as the parent of a teenager I am learning very quickly how little I know about, well, everything) but it can help us to build our knowledge base - and our confidence.

Parent Conference

Fort McMurray Early Years Coalition in partnership with Keyano Childhood Studies department is presenting a Parent Conference on May 4, 2013 from 8:30 am till 4:00 pm.  The fee is $20 per person for the conference and a separate fee of $15 per person for Heather Plante, a certified Maternity and Child Sleep Consultant from Soothing Angles,  sleep presentation.

The Parent Conference is a first in Fort McMurray and we are hoping to make this an annual event for parent in our community. During the conference a trade show will also be available for parents with many services for children in Fort McMurray

From 8:30 – 9 am there will be check in and coffee, then at 9 am our Keynote Speaker Melanie Olorenshaw M. Sc (Applied Psychology) will be speaking. Melanie is the founder of Brilliant Beginnings Educational Centre in Calgary. She is a parent educator in both the health and education for the last 14 years. Melanie passionate about early childhood and how early parents sets the stage for all future development. She is frequently interviewed by Today’ Parent and Canadian Family Magazines and has been on both local and national television regarding parenting and child development. Melanie continues to study, write and lecture on discipline, early childhood development, parenting culture and the relationships between environment and brain development. 

Melanie keynote will be on the subject of “Growing Young Minds: From Science to Practice”
Current parenting practices have transformed how we look at children and their development Society has become media obsessed where “screen Time” is 24/7 and free play time isn’t considered educational. Parents gather information on how to optimize learning and enrol their children in multiple programs in hopes to achieve this. Unfortunately this is resulting in children being socialized in a very different way than their brains are designed for. In her keynote Melanie will discuss the impact of our current parenting culture and how parents and professionals can objectively look at the information they are receiving. By the end of the morning you will be able to blend your understanding of neurology and early childhood research with practical parenting tips.

Parents can look forward to the choice of 3 sessions with an array of topics to choice from. The session topic will be:

“Parenting is not an Olympic Sport” – Presenter Line Perron – There are so many pressures on parents today that were not there decades ago. This session will explore the many stressors parents face and some simple strategies to move back to basics and focusing o the relationship piece of parenting. We will look at some basic parenting practices and the four key things children need for a healthy rounded development.

"There’s a DAD for that” – Presenter – Patrick Dillion – What is the role of Dad/ What are some of the insights into child development? How can I communicate with my son/daughter? Answer to these questions will be addressed. Some of the topics covered including: Emotional Health, Discipline, Physical Health, Nutrition, and family /life/work balance.

It’s not a box, it’s a Pirate Ship! – Presenter – Sherry Duncan – This session will provide you with an opportunity to explore indoor play. We will begin with a brief overview of the importance of play for children of all ages. This will be followed by engaging and interactive activities that will inspire you to take play “inside”! Participants will leave with practical ideas and resources to use at home.

Picky Eaters – Presenter Melissa Kolmel RD – Come and participate in a fun interactive discussion on nutrition! We will not only be discussing how to provide healthy food to children but also how to support a healthy feeding relationship between the caregiver and child.  Let’s take the stress out of meal times and add the fun back in!

Kids Have Stress Too! – Presenter Line Perron –This session will look at stressors young children might experience and the signs and symptoms of too much stress. We will explore what happens to children’s development when that stress is not managed and look at some simple strategies to help children and parents manage stress. Participants will get activity sheets and additional hand out to supplement the session.

Every Child Ready to Read - This session is presented by staff of The Fort McMurray Public Library -Did you know that learning to read starts at birth? Join us to learn simple, easy, and fun activities you can do with your children from newborns to preschoolers. Find out how you can help your children get ready to read with simple tips and everyday activities you can start doing at home right away. This session will give you the tools to set your child on a path to enjoying reading and school success.

Heather Plante, a certified Maternity and Child Sleep Consultant from Soothing Angles will be presenting a separate workshop during the day. There is an extra charge of $15 for this presentation. This presentation is dedicated to parents of babies and toddlers 4 months old to 6 years old.  We will talk about "6 Reasons Why Babies Wake @ Night", Nightmares vs. Night Terrors, 4 methods of sleep training, the importance of Consistency and Routine, and so much more!

Parents can register at Event Bright for Fort McMurray’s First Parenting Conference. Registration opens on April 5, 2013.

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