Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July Pop-Up for Reading events!

The kiddos had so much fun at the June Pop-Up for Reading events!!  We started with a read aloud story the littles enjoyed and the parents learned techniques to make the reading you share with your child more insightful and how to support the essential reading skills as the kids grow.

Next we moved on to activities and crafts that were based on the book we read.  Adults were asked to work with their kiddos to complete each craft.  As they worked together you could see the joy on everyone's face and how much they enjoyed just being close. The crafts also support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills and were downright fun too!  Who doesn't love making a balloon car and wonderful bubble art?

Each child then picked out a book and each family was sent home with their very own copy of the book we read out loud.

Learning and supporting your child's literacy skills can be a lot of fun and what a terrific way stop the summer slid and enjoy reading!  Please bring friends and join us for the July Pop-Up for Reading events!


July 17th at the new Francis Street Primary from 10:00 am - 11:30 am.

July 24th at East Jackson Memorial from 10:00 am - 11:30 am.

July 31st at Springport Elementary from 9:30 am - 11:00 am.

See you there!!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Phone Apps for New Parents

Would you enjoy connecting with other parents?  Would you like important developmental information at your fingertips?  How about tips on nighttime feedings, healthy growth, when to call the doctor, etc.?  Did you know there are several apps that you can download that will give you all of this, and more?




Here are four to get you started, all of which are available for FREE on iTunes and Google Play.

Peanut - This app allows you to connect with other parents in your area, and also has a community discussion feature called "Peanut Pages" where you can ask questions and gather feedback from other parents who have been in similar situations. 

Today's Parent My Family - Simply plug in your child's age to get personalized content.  This app helps you track naps, assist with breastfeeding and bottle feeding, and even has a storybook feature to help you capture amazing moments you won't want to forget.  Another exciting feature are the how-to recipe and craft videos.

Glow Baby - All aspects of your baby's first year is covered in this app.  Developmental milestones, sleep schedules, when to feed your baby what, and more are all included.  Parenting tips are also delivered daily.

WebMD Baby - Should I call the doctor?  Why was my baby crying all night - could it be an earache, a tooth coming in, or something else?  Sound familiar?  This app provides doctor approved medical information from birth to two years.  It includes emergency symptoms and weekly content specific to your child's age and development. 

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