Supporting Child and Family Development

MSU Extension offers programs and services that support families in a variety of ways. From helping parents and caregivers increase early childhood science, math, preliteracy and social and emotional skills in young children to developing critical life skills and healthy behaviors in youth of all ages, MSU Extension works to ensure Michigan’s families are stronger and children are prepared to excel in school and life.

Delivered through webinars, face-to-face workshops and other mechanisms, MSU Extension offers a variety of training, curricula and materials to support child and family development. These sessions are available for parents, caregivers, childcare professionals, leaders and youth, with certificates for childcare provider training hours typically available upon request.

Download the printable MSU Extension child and family development programming profile

MSU Extension child and family development programming focuses on:

Preparing for school success in early childhood

Parents and caregivers are the first to have an influence on a child’s development and future academic success. To help ensure children are ready for school, caring adults can do much to develop their early math, science and pre-literacy skills. Through MSU Extension’s early childhood education programs, parents and caregivers are equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to enhance children’s skills in these important areas and to become their best resources and advocates. Trainings available for parents, caregivers and childcare professionals in this area enhance math, science and literacy development in early childhood.

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Social and emotional health in young children

A child’s social and emotional skills, including the regulation of his or her emotions, capacity to solve problems and ability to interact with others have been identified as key factors in long-term academic and life success. With the support of MSU Extension resources and education, parents and caregivers have the opportunity to enhance the social and emotional health of children in a variety of ways. Trainings available for parents, caregivers and childcare professionals cover topics such as positive discipline, mindfulness, play-based learning, and other social and emotional skill development.

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Family education and support

To ensure the success of families across Michigan, MSU Extension offers a variety of research-based, parenting education classes and family engagement activities, as well as an array of support materials and resources. These tools provide assistance to military families, instruction about positive discipline, assistance for dealing with children’s anger, strategies for mindfulness, events for family engagement and support for family and school collaboration.

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Life skills education for adult volunteers working with youth

MSU Extension works in partnership with adults who serve youth audiences in every content area, helping them to intentionally focus on the development of life skills across all programmatic areas of focus. Through the use of the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Targeting Life Skills and Experiential Learning Models, MSU Extension helps adults deliberately plan life skills into their current programming to help today’s youth develop the skills they need to become successful adults. 

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Healthy youth

Both the internal well-being and physical health of Michigan’s youth are of great importance. MSU Extension works with adults in youth programs to help them increase young people’s capacity to care for their own personal safety and health. Adults learn how to include healthy living topics such as nutrition, physical activity and safety into their current programming efforts.

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For more information on how to get involved with MSU Extension’s child and family development programs as a youth or volunteer, contact your county MSU Extension office or