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Parent Support Partner helps families navigate "Back to School" season

SEPTEMBER 24 The new school year is already well underway, but some families may still be struggling to establish their routine. According to Megan Cole, Preschool Team Social Worker for Char-Em ISD, it's normal for the transition to be an ongoing source of anxiety and stress for young kids and families.

"Every member of the household is affected during 'back to school' time," Cole observed. "Whether it's a preschooler's first year, or they are returning to structured school schedule, it can be a difficult adjustment for both the child and for his or her parents. There tends to be less of a formal schedule during the summer, so the start of school means that routines at home must change, which may be hectic for everyone."

Cole explained that structure is important to preschoolers. Parents should emphasize the positive and establish comfortable routines that include nightly preparation for the next day, a set sleep schedule, and a healthy breakfast. While it's normal for young children to have some 'back to school jitters', parents may want to seek additional support if their child starts to display physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches, or if they are displaying disruptive behaviors at home or at school.

"Families who are struggling with adjustment to preschool and whose children are having behavior issues can get free support from a Parent Support Partner," Cole advised. "The Parent Support Partner is a peer parent who has overcome challenges and obstacles to provide her or his own child with a positive, supportive environment, and is available now to help." She added that parents who work with Parent Support Partners tend to feel less isolated, more confident, and better able to cope with challenges for the child at school and at home.

Parents interested in working with a Parent Support Partner can get more information through the Health Department of Northwest Michigan's Early Childhood Behavioral Health Initiative. The program makes free parent support available to parents of children age 0-5 in Charlevoix, Emmet and northern Antrim Counties. Call the Health Department toll-free at (800) 432-4121 to learn more or to schedule an appointment.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties. Visit or call (800) 432-4121 for more information.