Off The Press

September 15, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

PTSA offers free parent education seminars

Chantelle Lusebrink Press reporter

Chantelle Lusebrink Press reporter

As children turn from needing you for nearly everything in kindergarten to wanting nothing to do with you in middle school, many parents find themselves wondering how to stay connected.

More importantly, some wonder how best to approach tough conversations during a time children need it most. Conversations about drugs, alcohol, sex, peer pressure, stress, academic achievement — the list goes on — may seem insurmountable when your teen is plugged into MTV, their iPod or Gmail Chat correspondence more than you.Whatever your views about the right time and age to broach difficult conversations, you can get started by educating yourself.

A little known resource for parents in the Issaquah School District are parent education seminars hosted by the districtwide Parents, Teachers and Students Association or PTSA.

The purpose of the seminars is to help parents access information, which can help them act on their children’s behalf.

“We believe that when parents are serious about taking an active role in educating their children (physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially), they are building a strong foundation from which their children can mature into successful, responsible, young adults,” and parent education helps with that, according to the PTSA’s Web site.

The site is updated throughout the year with information about seminars, special lectures and courses you can take to educate yourself about issues and problems, and gather information regarding how best to handle them with your student.

For instance, the PTSA hosted a seminar — “What Teens are Really Doing Today” — with Issaquah Police officers last year. The seminar focused on teen habits and potentially dangerous behaviors, as well as information from a handbook, “Parents, Teens and the Law,” produced by state officials that informs parents about behaviors that could have legal repercussions for them and their teens, like hosting a party where alcohol is served.

The PTSA also sponsored a seminar for parents of elementary school-aged students studying health and reproduction in fifth and sixth grades, and gave suggestions about how to speak to students prior to the start of the curriculum.

Parents can also find support groups on the site. For instance, the Sammamish Plateau Parent Networking Group meets monthly at the Eastside Fire & Rescue Station No. 82, 1851 228th Ave. N.E.

This year, parent education seminars are kicking off early.

The first seminar is “Guiding Good Choices ” at 6 p.m. Oct. 6 at Liberty High School, 16655 S.E. 136th St. It’s a five-week course that helps parents set and learn how best to enforce family drug and alcohol policy, learn conflict management and teach children how to avoid peer pressure. The seminar is hosted in partnership with Friends of Youth.

A second seminar, “How to Help Your Child Succeed in High School and Beyond,” is at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 at Issaquah High School, 700 Second Ave. S.E. It’s hosted by parents, administrators and teachers, and features faculty speakers who will give advice about how to best plan and prepare for high school and college.

For more information and a list of available seminars through the PTSA, go to www.issaquahptsa.org/parented. Additional resources and information can also be found at the district’s Web site, www.issaquah.wednet.edu. Click on “Family Resources,” and then “Parent Education.”

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquapress.com.

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