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If parents feel their child is speaking a foreign language it's because they are, said Dr. Regalena Melrose, but it's also the adults native speech and they just need practice.

The clinical psychologist, speaker and author will host a free workshop "Parenting with the Brain in Mind" on Thursday at the Portage High School auditorium. The event is from 6 to 8 p.m. and is open to all parents with free childcare available on site.

"A focus of the talk is really to help parents to understand what in fact can we be expecting our children to do at different developmental stages," Melrose said. "Once we learn the language that children speak - which is very different than words (since) they speak a more sensory language because that's the part of their brain that's mostly developed - then we learn to communicate with them differently and intervene with them differently with much more success."

A number of staff from the Portage School District recommended that Melrose do a workshop after attending one this fall.

"We were struck by her ability to take very complex neuroscience information and make it understandable and useful for educators and parents," said Joy Larson, principal of John Muir Elementary School.

The one date that Portage educators had their staff development training fit into Melrose's busy schedule, said Pete Hibner, director of instruction and assistant district administrator for the Portage School District. The cost is already budgeted and sometimes planned out years in advance for sought-after presentations, he said, and she was gracious enough to offer a parent workshop when she arrived in Portage.

"We're having her the whole next day to talk with our staff about dealing with the ‘angry and apathetic student,' helping give kids and teachers the tools to better deal with what's going on so students can learn," Hibner said.

About 225 Portage teaching staff will attend the development and because the auditorium can seat up to 650 people the district offered $20 a ticket to neighboring school district staff. It's a good way to share information benefitting children, Hibner said, and helps offset the cost.

Also offseting cost or hindrances to parents is the free childcare provided by students in the National Honor Society, free food and beverages prepared by students in the Family and Consumer Science class and a number of prizes for those in attendance.

"I teach it in a really fun way. People become more empowered when they learn this new language. I give them tools and ideas to speak this new language and it creates more resonance between parents and their children or teachers and students so that there's greater peace," Melrose said.

It's about helping parents become more mindful of their own sensory cues so that they can be taking care of themselves so that their children feel more relaxed and safer around them, she said. Therefore the children feel more relaxed and safe to express their sensory cues. If a parent raises their shoulders by an inch while driving, for example, the child will pick up on the cue and ask what's wrong. When the parent says that nothing is amiss they're denying their own stressors and the child's intuition, Melrose said.

"We're going to laugh and we're going to see ourselves in a new way and see our kids in a new way. It's very joyful to learn about this and very liberating," she said.

Melrose is also a practitioner of trauma healing for children, adolescents and adults in her private practice. Learning how to communicate and support a child can assist them in school and in life.

"I have overcome a great deal. I was a foster child myself, so I'm certainly speaking from a very personal place and I think that's what makes me so passionate. I apply all of this in my own life with my child and myself," she said.

Resources will be present at the workshop, including a free parent guide and Melrose has an extensive page on Youtube.

For more information visit www.drmelrose.com, or contact the district office at 742-4879.

If You Go:

What: Parenting with the Brain in Mind.

Why: A free presentation for parents on how their child's brain functions, learning how to communicate efficiently and being mindful of their own sensory cues.

Who: Dr. Regalena Melrose, a licensed clinical psychologist, author and practitioner of trauma healing for children, adolescents and adults.

Where: The Portage High School auditorium located at 301 E. Collins St.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19.

Cost: Free.

How: No registration required. There will be free childcare, food and prizes available to those in attendance.