​As the saying goes, parenting doesn’t come with a handbook. So the Prince William Office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension, or VCE, are offering classes to help parents in all stages of child rearing.

Experts leading the Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, or STEP, classes will offer guidance to help people learn parenting techniques for children of all ages, said Rozlyn Giddens, parent education volunteer coordinator for VCE. “Our classes are educational. They’re led by professional volunteers. Many of them are retired school teachers. They’ve worked in social work, counseling and other areas in the community.”
The classes will meet for two hours one night a week for seven weeks to offer tips for parents of children that are different age groups. There are classes for parents of young children between the ages of birth to five years, school-age children between 6 and 12, and teens 13 and older, according to Giddens.
Giddens, who volunteered for three years as a facilitator in the program, said parents have questions about child development, communication skills, self-esteem issues and discipline. “We deal with discipline. Some parents aren’t sure about how to discipline their kids. That’s a challenge that parents want guidance on. They also want to know what’s realistic to expect from their kids at certain ages and stages. The classes can help parents understand behavior and why our kids do what they do.”
The classes also touch on external influences that can negatively affect children, Giddens said. “Our kids are exposed to so much more, so much younger. We want to capitalize on the needs of children that parents are hopefully sensing.”
Upcoming classes include a class for parents of school-age children between July 10 and Aug. 21 at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building at 15941 Donald Curtis Drive in Woodbridge. A class for parents of young children is scheduled for June 19 through July 31 at the Sharron Baucom Dale City Recreation Center, 14300 Minnieville Road in Woodbridge.
Classes in Spanish, which is available for all ages, will run from Aug. 9 through Sept. 20 at the Sudley North Government Building at 7987 Ashton Ave. in Manassas. A second class in Spanish will run between Aug. 13 and Oct. 1 at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building.
Classes run between 7 and 9 p.m. Registration for the classes, with a $40 fee to cover the costs of materials, is required. All fees must accompany the registration form. Credit cards will not be accepted. Class registration closes at 1 p.m. on the first day of the class.
Other classes will be scheduled for later dates. For more information, call VCE at 703-792-6288.

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