All parents should be exposed to the Ministry of Education???s workshop on behavioural challenges which is held annually.

Senior Education Officer, Joy Adamson, in welcoming the 20 parents who came to the Elsie Payne Complex for the half-day session, said she believed the programme to be critical and ???something that all parents should be exposed to???.

???We do have some challenges in our school system, and we try, where possible, to support the teachers, [and] the staff at the school level. But we don???t stop there; we extend that to the parents. Yes, we do have PAREDOS, the Child Care Board and other social agencies. But we [the Ministry] do have to play our part,??? Mrs. Adamson said.

Expressing the hope that participants would use the tips given to also help others the education official added: ???We all have loving families and a lot of our children are crying out for help. We just need to understand how to give them that help.???

Social Worker in the Student Support Services of the Ministry, Joann Hall, in putting the workshop into perspective, said behavioural rather than academic issues were more challenging to her department.

She explained that it was very severe with the referrals of behavioural problems usually being around 40 per cent. Ms. Hall added that boys, rather than girls, presented with these issues.

With its theme: Leading Lovingly yet firmly, the workshop focused on Discipline vs. Punishment; How to spend wisely in an economic crisis and the impact of foods on behavioural issues.

With respect to the latter, Ms. Hall pointed out that studies showed a link between the intake of some foods, especially with dyes and preservatives, and the impact on children with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

???We get a lot of incidents of children being referred with that and dyslexia,??? she added.

The Students Support Services facilitates parents and students with principals and teachers usually the ones referring students with behavioural, emotional and academic issues to the department. Social workers then follow up with investigations.

Explaining that the workshop was part of the investigative process, Ms. Hall, said: ???We would have investigated the incidences of behaviour and one of the ways that we think as a Ministry to combat some of these problems is to have a parenting workshop. You know parenting does not come with a handbook; so every year for the past six to seven years we have been doing this.

???When you get a child being referred [to the Ministry] first of all the parent has to come to the Ministry to talk to us. We have a clinical interview with the parent so that is??where we meet the parent before. We didn???t meet the parent before. We go to the school and we also do home visits; this [the workshop] is just one of the ways that we try to get the parents to come together and work with us along with the teachers so that we can teach them [the parents] skills.

While acknowledging that invitations were sent to over 100 parents to attend today???s session, the social worker lamented that the attendance is never high. ???I would have liked it to be better???the parents that we would like to come never show up and I don???t think that there is much that you can do about that???but the people that do come to the workshop usually go away feeling more empowered,??? she affirmed.

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