Getting families together

Andy McNeilly started Connecting With Your Kids 18 months ago. 178555

By Justin Flynn

Ocean Grove Primary School teacher Andy McNeilly is passionate about helping children in more ways than one.
Andy loves teaching, but also started Connecting With Your Kids 18 months ago.
The program aims at increasing the amount of time families spend together.
“Parents are busy and find it hard to spend time with their kids,” Mr McNeilly said.
“It aims at getting parents and kids together. After following the advice of my own program, I realised how important it is to spend time with my own kids and I’m a better father for it.”
Connecting With Your Kids builds ‘life skills’ that kids need to thrive, through fun programs that give parents the tools they need to connect with their children.
Andy said putting away the iPad and turning off the TV for a small amount of time each night, can make an enormous impact in bringing families closer together.
He has run workshops at Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads Primary School and has been approached by a school in Geelong to do a similar program.
“When I got home, I used to open up my laptop or go out into the garage like a lot of parents do,” he said.
“It’s not about doing a blame game on parents – I get it – people are busy. If a child is experiencing anxiety or emotional stress, they are more likely to come to you as a result of spending more time together.”
Andy said the workshops have been “really positive”.
“It hit me in the last workshop I did,” he said.
“A parent came up to me and said it was such a good reminder to them about what’s important in their life – their kids.”
Andy, who has children aged 15, 13 and 10, said the best thing a parent can do was to just get the ball rolling.
“Start small – spend just a little bit of time and put your distractions away. It might mean playing a game together or going for a walk or a ride for 20 minutes.”
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