Thursday, June 14, 2018

FREE Summer S.T.E.A.M. Programs


The Girls Scouts Heart of Michigan is hosting FREE summer S.T.E.A.M. (Science-Technology-Engineering-Art-Math) programs this summer.  These programs are open to all girls in Jackson County entering kindergarten through 6th grade in the fall of 2018.  Girls DO NOT need to be a Girl Scout to attend!


Join us at the following locations, (No programs July 2nd-July 6th):

Jackson District Library Carnegie Branch Auditorium — Mondays, 1:30-2:15pm
Ridgewood Vista Apartments — Wednesdays, Noon-1;00pm
Warner Elementary School — Thursdays, 11:00am-Noon
Ashton Ridge Apartments Clubhouse — Thursdays, 1:00-2:00pm



Please RSVP to Laurie Skrzynski at (517) 784-8543 or LSkrzynski@gshom.org


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Little Free Libraries coming to a neighborhood near you!

The Great Start Collaborative of Jackson County was recently awarded a grant through Consumers Energy to support literacy in our community.  We are excited to include Little Free Libraries in the work to support and help prepare children and families be prepared for kindergarten and school success beyond!

Reading out loud with young children as early as infancy is a wonderful activity that keeps us close and can be continued for years and generations to come.  Research shows reading to a child creates important brain stimulation and engages areas of the brain and help babies form connections and mental imagery.  Children start to learn communication and concepts of numbers, letters, colors and shapes and while having fun they build listening, memory and vocabulary skills.

Great Start Families had a wonderfully successful book drive in May to support the libraries and other literacy events on the way.  To learn more about where families would like to see a Little Free Library we have been working with parents in our play groups and MOPS and we have connected with the Jackson Mayor to learn and talk more about the Little Free Libraries he had worked on.

Locations that are set to receive one of the grant funded libraries are Family Services and Children's Aid, Department of Health and Human Services, The Jackson County Health Department and the Falling Waters walking path.

If you have an idea about a good location for a Little Free Library, please comment below and share your idea.  Any location within Jackson County is welcome and rural community locations where the libraries can be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week are terrific!


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Growing Families

Having a new baby is an exciting time for the entire family.  Children awaiting the birth of their new baby brother or sister will watch in wonder as your belly grows, find happiness "talking" to their new sibling through your belly, giving your belly kisses, and feeling baby move.  Seeing and holding the new baby for the first time is also exciting for all involved - especially for the older children who finally get to meet their new sibling.
After a few weeks, though, you may quickly notice the happy feelings in your older children fade and replaced with resentment.  The new baby cries, wakes up in the middle of the night, and demands your attention.  Mom and dad are now being shared, and that can feel unfair to other children in the home.  You may find older siblings upset, acting out, and clingy.  How can you help?


1.  Listen.  Listening to your child is one of the best ways to reconnect and ease the stress associated with this new situation.  Try not to problem solve.  Just be open to all that they want to communicate.  Even when they are mad, validate their anger - say, "I can tell you are angry!" This will make them feel open to talking about their feelings.  Listening shows empathy and understanding, and this will make your child feel loved and safe.

2.  Special Time.  Yes, you are busy with a new baby in the house!  Special time doesn't mean planning a trip to Chuck E. Cheese or any other extravaganza.  Simply spend 10-15 minutes a day giving undivided attention to each of the older children in your life.  You can read books, cuddle on the couch and talk, or get on the floor and play.  Let them be the guide!  

3. Hug.  Everyone loves a hug! Anytime you hug, squeeze, pat, or hold hands with your child, you are displaying your love!

4.  Assign Tasks.  If you child is old enough, give them the role of helper with the new baby.  They can pack the diaper bag, grab a burp cloth when you need it, pick out an outfit for baby to wear, or simply sit with baby.  Thank your child for his/her help - no matter how small the task was or even if they goofed!  

5. Read Books.  There are many great options for parents to read children before and after the new baby arrives. Visit here for a great list provided by CS Mott Children's Hospital. You will also find other great tips for welcoming a new baby into your home!  


Monday, April 30, 2018

Supporting Resilience in Children

We all know that life is full of both ups and downs.  There are days we feel extremely happy and days we feel sad.  Some days our friends and family are getting along and other days not so much. Some days we feel confident and other days worried.  We all have emotions, and though we want to save our children from the bad ones, they need these experiences in order to grow into healthy, resilient adults.  
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, resilience is defined as having an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.  Thinking about this definition, I understand that much of childhood is spent learning resilience and how important resilience is for our entire life - our social/work lives and our emotional well-being.  Through playing with other children, learning to share, and identifying feelings, children are learning resilience on a daily basis.  
Families also play a big role in forming their child's resilience and ability to cope with the world at large.  Learning from what they see, children watch parents/caregivers tackle stress and negative feelings.  By coping with setbacks in a calm way, children learn to handle problems of their own in a calm manner as well.  
In addition, by showing children unconditional love, understanding and acceptance, children learn that they are safe, secure and supported, not matter what feelings crop up in their lives.  It is through these secure relationships, that we help children understand different emotions and how to regulate them when they arise.  

Tracy Trautner, from Michigan State University Extension, recently wrote an article on the subject, which includes several suggestions for building caring relationships with children and the importance of resilience-building.   

As much as we want to build positive resilience in children, prolonged stress has the opposite effect.  If you are interested in how you can empower children to manage the stressors in their lives, consider attending the following free workshop:



The Resilience Toolbox
May 10th, 2018
6:30-8:00 p.m.

Washington Street Education Center
500 Washington Street
Chelsea, MI 48118
open to the public

Monday, April 23, 2018

Supporting Early Math Skills

When my children began school and I realized that math was being taught in a completely different way than when I was a child, I was frustrated.  Math was never my strong suite, so I always felt nervous when one of my children came home needing help with a math assignment.  Seeing as math was being taught in a new way, I also wondered if my old school ways would confuse my kids in their learning.  

Having a quick talk with my child's teacher helped put me on the same page, but I also found that one of the best ways I could support my children was to have a good attitude about math from the start.  I do privately complain (not perfect by any means), but when I am within earshot of my children, I try my best to keep a positive attitude about math.   I know they will mimic my actions and behaviors, so if they overhear me complaining about math being taught in a way I cannot understand, they will feel the same frustration and complain about doing it altogether.  If I am positive, they will be too, and I want to help keep them motivated and encouraged even when they feel challenged!

Find some fun activities to share with your child that focus on math.  This not only allows another method of teaching (which helps us parents out), but also hones in on the fun aspect of the subject - which will encourage learning.  There are several opportunities both locally and within a short driving distance that focus on math - and science - that I've listed below, as well as a few websites to get you started on ideas to try at home. 



What is S.T.E.A.M. ?  Locally, the Jackson District Library offers a S.T.E.A.M. & Stories program meant for children ages 0-5 and Super S.T.E.M. Stations daily across the county.   For a day trip, visit Impressions 5 in Lansing, MI.  

Pick up a pair of dice and check out this website full of game ideas to play with your child.  All are super fun, easy, portable, and highly educational.  

NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children)


Have fun!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Great Start Collaborative Monthly Meetings!

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 of Jackson County needs you!  The more voices we have, the stronger our impact in Jackson County will be.  We have several committees that meet monthly - with descriptions listed below.  


Great Start School Readiness - It takes a community to ensure children are ready to enter school.  This group, made up of teachers, parents, volunteer 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 in encouraged!  

Meets monthly on the 3rd Wednesday
Next meeting:  May 16th, 2:00-3:00 PM

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, training's, and all other information needed to provide for the needs of their children.

Meets monthly on the 2nd Thursday
Next meeting: May 10th, 1:00-2:00 PM


Please visit our calendar for more the most accurate location information and future meeting dates!  Hope to see you!