Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Supporting Diversity through Children's Books



Have you ever thought about the color of Band-Aids? 


At a recent meeting that I attended, this was brought to my attention and I realized that I never once in my entire life had to think about the color of a Band-Aid matching my skin.  Also, I never had to question why my baby dolls didn't look like me - they always did. 

After this meeting I went away deep in thought.  How can I help my children understand diversity?  I'm not talking skin color 
alone, but also the diverse cultures, languages, developmental abilities, AND ethnicities that embrace our country. I want my children to understand the Band-Aid concept and the deeper meaning within it.


I have found in my parenting years that books provide a great way to explore tricky topics.   It can be hard to bring up certain subjects while at the same time keeping your child's attention.  I have found that with books, I can still get my point across and they are entertained!

The great thing about books is that while the words support literacy, build vocabulary, and introduce new ideas; the stories and illustrations within can heighten a child's self esteem about their own cultural background and teach other children to understand and respect the unique diversity that is entwined in our country and across the entire world.


When searching for books that explore diversity, keep an eye out for a few things within the story line by looking at the characters, their roles, relationships, and lifestyles.  Are they depicted in a positive light, without stereotypes? Check out the books listed - all great examples!







Tuesday, September 4, 2018

September is Safe Sleep Month!



SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age that doesn't have a known cause even after a complete investigation.  SIDS is the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age.  

It is tempting to bring baby to bed with you - especially when breastfeeding, but the fact is that a baby dies every three days in Michigan and these deaths are 100% preventable. Of course parents want to avoid this from happening to their babies, but with so much advice out there, how do we know which practices are best?  According to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Safe to Sleep Public Education Campaign, the tips below offer the safest advice for both nap and night-time routines: 



  • Place your baby on their back, in a crib, bassinet or pack-n-play for every sleep time.
  • Use a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet.
  • Keep baby’s sleep space clutter free – no pillows, blankets or toys.
  • Avoid covering baby’s head or overheating.  Instead of a blanket, consider using a sleep sack, wearable blanket or footed sleeper to keep baby warm.
  • Remind everyone who cares for your baby, including babysitters and family members, how to keep baby safe while sleeping.





The following video, Safe Sleep: What Every Parent Needs to Know, with Introduction by Sue Snyder, first lady of Michigan, gives a overview of 3 different families who've lost young children to unsafe sleep environments. Advice from medical professionals is also examined on ways to keep your child safe.


I have a baby shower coming up for a friend.  What are good gift ideas that are safe for baby?  A sleep sack is a great idea!  It is the preferred sleepwear for an infant under one and is recommended in place of covering the infant with a blanket.  Fitted sheets, bassinets, cribs, portable cribs, or firm mattresses to fit cribs or bassinets also make great gifts for the new family!

Monday, August 27, 2018

We Need You!!


Since 2006, the Great Start Collaborative of Jackson County has been working to ensure children within our community are born healthy, ready to succeed when entering kindergarten, and are reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
Do you want to help make a difference in our children's lives and future outlook?  Do you have ideas for improving early childhood outcomes?  Then the Great Start Collaborative needs you!  The more voices we have, the stronger our impact in Jackson County will be.  Please consider joining in on one of our monthly meetings - we welcome you!

Great Start Family Support 

Made up of parents, community service agency members, and educators, this group meets to develop a plan that ensures parents have access to resources, trainings and all other information needed to provide for the needs of their children.

Meets monthly on the 2nd Thursday 
Next Meeting: September 13th
1:00-2:00 PM
Jackson County Health Department
Room 205

Great Start School Readiness

It takes a community to ensure children are ready to enter school.  This group, made up of teachers, parents, community and social service agency members, meets to discuss social-emotional, physical, and academic topics of school readiness.  Input and guidance regarding community services designed to improve readiness in all areas is encouraged!



Meets monthly on the 3rd Wednesday
Next Meeting: September 19th
2:00-3:00 PM
Family Service & Children's Aid
330 W Michigan Avenue





Please visit our website for up-to-date information, including future meeting times and locations.  


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Responsibility and Age-Appropriate Chores


 It is hard to believe that another summer has nearly passed and the kids are gearing up for a fresh year of school.  Although I enjoy the long days and late wake-up calls of summer, it's nice to get everyone back into a routine.  
The beginning of the school year usually means that I take a long, hard look at the chore list at our house.  I think about each of my children's growth over the past year and add some new responsibilities to their plate.  What once may have been taking dirty dishes from the table after dinner and placing them in the sink, can now evolve to rinsing them and loading them in the dishwasher.  Once they remembered to put their lunches into their backpacks in the morning, but now can pack their own lunches the night before.  
I do admit that it is hard to actually allow my children these responsibilities. I often want to run in and "do it better." But over the years I've learned to take a step back, allow them to make mistakes, give a bit of guidance on how to improve (while still praising the attempt), and watching as they improve independently.  Yes, there are days when their chores aren't done perfectly, that's for sure!  But, we all have our days, right?!

If you are looking for age-appropriate ways to increase responsibility and encourage self-sufficiency in your child, here are a few tips to follow:
  • Make sure that tasks are age-appropriate.  A preschooler can't pick up the whole house, but can definitely pick up his/her toys in the bedroom and can make their bed in the morning (not perfectly, but remember, this will improve!). 
  • Teach your child to dress themselves.  They may need help with tricky parts like buttons and shoelaces, but know that these skills do come with time.  
  • Don't give in to whining.  As long as you know that the task is age-appropriate, don't jump in to help.  Try saying, "As soon as you put your toys in the bin, we will go to the library. Let me know when you're done."
  • Teach your child to ask for help.  Mastering new skills does take time, and there is a difference between whining (saying I can't do it) and asking for an adult to help.  Guide them through the new skills and watch as they quickly learn to do work independently.  
  • Thank them for their work and give big hugs!


For more, read 10 Great Ways to Teach Children Responsibility, courtesy of The Parent-Institute.com

Now Enrolling for GSRP Preschool!!!



We still have a few spots available for your child in our Great Start Readiness Preschool Program (GSRP).  If your child is four, and you have not decided on a preschool yet, contact us right away!  GSRP programs are free to families who qualify and are located throughout Jackson County.  Please visit our Preschool Partnership page to view the income eligibility chart and the 2018-2019 Jackson Quality Preschool Interest Form.  Fill out the form to apply or call (517) 768-5130 to apply over the phone.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Summer Pop-Up for Reading Events


The five Pop-Up for Reading events that took place this past June and July were a big hit!  Each location offered a different theme for families- with new storytime books, crafts, STEM activities, and more.  In addition to the fun activities, families were able to take home a copy of the read-aloud and each child was able to go home with an additional book for free.

Families were provided with feedback forms to fill out which included information on favorite activities and an area to add suggestions for improving events next year.  Favorites this year included the bubble art activity (Bennett Elementary), creating the balloon car (Townsend Elementary), building bridges at Francis Street Primary, making goo at East Jackson Memorial, and the Rainbow Fish craft at Springport Elementary. 

The majority of families stated that they heard about the events through social media - good to know!  Also, families attended the different Pop-Up for Reading events throughout the county, not just the closest location or where the children attend school.  This is fantastic information as we were not only trying to reach as many families as possible, but encouraging families to attend all events!

Unanimously, families responded that this event was fun, interactive, and that they would definitely attend again if offered next year.   Comments such as, "You're awesome!" and "Love it! Keep it coming!" are just a few of the positive messages that we will take with us as we begin thinking about next year's activities. 


 Thank you to all who attended! 



Monday, August 6, 2018

August Playgroup Fun!

For August, we are making dragonflies at playgroup, using recycled lids from gogo squeeze applesauce pouches.  

Thank you to all of the families that saved lids for me to create these adorable crafts!  

The beading is great for enhancing fine motor skills and they look super cute hanging up on plants, in windows, 
or wherever you needs some whimsy.

Join us at a Playgroup this month 
to create your own beaded dragonfly!

Visit us on our Facebook page: 
for dates, times, and locations.

First, hot glue two caps together

Next, hot glue a pipe cleaner inside of one of the cap openings
Then, glue a large button to the front of the other cap
I had enough caps to prep over 100 dragonflies for families to bead!!
Lace a half of a pipe cleaner through the Botton holes and string them back up
through the back of the button to make the eyes and antennas.  
Our dragonflies are adorable!!!

I originally found this craft posted at: http://viewsfromastepstool.com/dragonfly-kids-craft/