Our innovative evidence based personal development program – Parent Champion empowers parents to take responsibility to change their lives and relationships with their children and partners. It helps build stronger loving relationships and has the potential to transform whole families, communities and our society, from the inside out.

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Social, emotional and educational outcomes

The Parent Champion Program draws from a range of evidence-based approaches that have been linked to better social, emotional and educational outcomes for children and parents. The uniqueness of the programme is that by bringing these elements together it appears to have a synergy that ‘is more than the sum of the parts’. Parent Champions is a capacity-building model – which is importantly distinct from standard approaches that just focus on information and advice giving – and is considered more effective and innovative (Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, 2014, http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/multimedia/videos/theory_of_change)

The program shows highly promising indicative results in (at least) five key areas beneficial to children’s cognitive development and educational outcomes and well supported by research. These are:

1. Increased emotional and social wellbeing in parents and children

Parents who attend the program report more emotional expression and confidence and more of a feeling of value to their lives. Observations by teachers suggest children of attendees experience improved behaviour, use more self-calming and become better at expressing their needs and having them met by parents. All these factors suggest improved social and emotional wellbeing which research has shown is linked to better educational and mental health outcomes for children (NICE, 2008).

2. Increased parental confidence in building relationships with teachers and schools

80 % of parents felt more confident in building relationships with their child’s teacher and school after the program. We see this as the first step in overcoming barriers to parental engagement-known to be key for children’s outcomes (e.g. Desforges and Aboouchaar, 2003; Shute et al 2011, Goodall and Vorhaus, 2011, Menzies, 2013 ) – particularly for these disadvantaged parents.

3. Teaching specific skills that extend children’s language and promote parent-child empathy

Two techniques taught on the program-descriptive praise and energetic listening – promote language extension and better understanding/atunement to others’ emotions. The ‘scaffolding of language (Wood, Bruner and Ross, 1976) and concepts-(in this case emotions) has been shown to be important to language and cognitive development and less elaborate and extended language has long been known to be more common amongst those from disadvantaged backgrounds (Bernstein, 1971). The hope is also that the empathetic aspect of what is taught also helps parents be more responsive to their children and more ‘authoritative’ in their parenting – which is associated with better outcomes for children (e.g Baumrind, 1991)

4. Teaching relaxation techniques and mindfulness to parents and children

Meditation and mindfulness are both part of the program and known to be effective. The government wants all teachers to undertake mindfulness training because of its beneficial effects for adults and children alike (All Party Parliamentary Group Economics of Wellbeing report, New Economics Foundation, 2014)

5. Improving self-regulation and control in parents and children

Parents report a better sense of control and self-regulation after attending the program and children exhibit better self-calming. These results are indicative of impacts in the area of self-regulation and self-awareness which are linked to better educational outcomes (e.g. EPPE 3-11 study, 2008, EEF toolkit, 2014)

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