Canberra parenting classes for pre-teens and tweenagers

Matt Weikhardt with his children, Lewis 10, Evelyn 8, and Bronte, 1.
Matt Weikhardt with his children, Lewis 10, Evelyn 8, and Bronte, 1.  Photo: Jamila Toderas

 During his 14 years as a school teacher Matthew Weickhardt has seen many children approach the teenage years with a sense of bewilderment, many parents too. Probably more parents, if he's honest.

With his own son Lewis heading towards that stage Weickhardt began to ask himself what he could do to make sure the transition went smoothly for both of them.

"I began to think about how do I give him, and I don't like the term 'rite of passage', but how do I give him a transition to high school that is more than a graduation dinner at school," Mr Weickhardt said.

"How do we handle that transition where he goes away and I know I have done everything I can to prepare him for the years ahead and he goes away knowing that I completely love him and trust him and with a better sense of self?"

The pair have always enjoyed walking together, talking through some of their most challenging times, out in the fresh air, out of the confines of the house. Mr Weickhardt has seen the benefits of this one-on-one interaction every time. More importantly he has seen the benefits of his learning;  a teacher at Gordon Primary School, he has also done further study in "life coaching and neuro-linguistic type programs and coaching models" that made him, he says, a much better teacher and father.

"I left teaching for a bit, I was disheartened with, not the education system, but with the knowledge that I was equipped with to be able to help the kids," he said.

"My further study changed me as a teacher, I started loving teaching again, I was back to the core of it and I was finally equipped to have the conversations we all needed to have.

"Parents were asking me how did I have this rapport with kids, why had their child had changed so much, what was I doing differently … I began to think about how I could help parents at home."

He will be running a series of "Walking and Talking" events, run on a monthly basis, starting on April 30. The walks cover a range of topics to assist children to develop a greater sense of self and to give parents a framework to assist with future conversations.

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The talks range from goal setting, to values, self belief, core needs, habits and understanding emotions.

"Ideally what I want to do is create an avenue for parents to be able to spend time with their kids, which I believe they want to do anyway, but also provide them with a questioning framework using coaching models that I've used in school and outside of school in other areas, to talk to their kids about important things that they'll need as they transition into high school, into adolescence," he said.

"It's really targeted at those 10-14 year olds, I've got a child at that age, and it's really scary having to trust and let go," he said.

"They're going out into the world, you can't control that side of things, what's going to happen.

"As parents we can control what we put in place to try and help them, and us, prepare for what's ahead."

Mr Weickhardt will be holding free information sessions at 9 Kate St, Googong, from 1-2pm, on April 1 and April 22. Cost for the full program is $100. Bookings are essential on 0439865397.