Parents with two young children.

Helping Create A Solid Foundation For Children


January 19, 2023

Key Figures

  • 9,306 parent and caregiver participants in 2021 MSU Extension early childhood and family development programs
  • 314 MSU Extension early childhood and family development educational sessions offered in 2021

Priority Areas

Michigan State University Extension provides early child and family development programs that help parents, caregivers, childcare providers and other important adults in the lives of children and youth develop important skills. These programs focus on:

  • Guidance and discipline
  • School readiness.
  • Social emotional development.
  • Positive life skill development.


As a result of MSU Extension child and family development programs, adults increased their knowledge of basic concepts that promote learning success and positive life skills development. These improvements help adults ensure children and youth have the building blocks they need for future success. Of participants surveyed after taking part in an MSU Extension child and family development program in 2021:

  • 99% understood the importance of actively supporting a child’s learning.
  • 99% said they were prepared to support learning and growth in the program area.
  • 99% understood how the topic presented connects to healthy development.
  • 99% said they now had techniques to help young children.

For more information about MSU Extension’s early childhood programs and resources, contact or visit us online.

Participant Quote

  • "Thank you so much for letting me be part of your classes. I learned new ways to handle my three kids."
    • Child and family development program participant


MSU Extension’s Guiding Principles for Highly Successful Parenting series helps parents explore ways that they can be most effective in raising their children to be successful in school and in life. Over the course of five weeks, series attendees learn about topics such as creating family routines, developing emotional control in children, becoming calm and assertive parents, establishing consistent rules and relationships, learning from mistakes and developing empathy.

In 2021, Guiding Principles was offered virtually throughout Michigan, often at night so parents could attend the course without needing childcare arrangements. Many attendees shared how the program improved their family functioning, parent-child relationships and knowledge about child development. Comments received after the course included:

  • “I really appreciate the effort put into this, which includes working nontraditional hours to approach participants where they’re at and at a time they can be available.”
  • “I [now] feel confident I am doing the right thing for my daughter based on what you shared with me.”
  • “I found the course useful in reminding me of things I know to be the base but often have trouble applying in the heat of the moment.”


While much of MSU Extension’s early childhood and family development work is done directly with parents and caregivers, their educational offerings can prove valuable to other, nontraditional childcare settings as well. This was the case in 2021 when one MSU Extension early childhood and family development professional was contacted by staff of a summer camp for children. While prepared to offer the educational content to youth, the camp staff felt they were not ready for the discipline challenges that can sometimes accompany working with children and were looking for resources to support their work.

MSU Extension partnered with the camp to offer Positive Discipline, a program that teaches nine key concepts for creating environments and interactions that strengthen the development of self-control in young children. Adults receive tips for pursuing discipline, rather than punishment, to shape child behavior.

One attendee of the training stated: “In years past, we have tried out different trainings to help our educators learn more about child behavior, strategies for group management and students’ wellness. The Positive Discipline training was by far and away the most relevant, applicable and actionable information of any that we have done. It was the perfect training before we jump into our camp season and will continue to be a great reference.”


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