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The Family Center: enrichment programs for families and professionals

The Road to Reading Success

Ask the Experts by Stephanie Cork

Q. Is it too late to help both my middle and high school students with reading?

A. There is a misconception that older students aren't able to learn to read if they didn't master it when they were younger.

Some reading difficulties don't present themselves until the child is middle school or even high school. The difficulty may appear as a struggle with reading comprehension but often it's an issue with fluency. As the words in text becomes more complex, the student may not have the strategies to decode longer, more advanced words.

It's important to find out where the gaps lie and provide remediation to address the student's specific needs. Greek and Latin root instruction is also an important, but not commonly taught, skill for middle and high school level reading. Sixty five percent of words in higher level reading contain roots.

Read more: The Road to Reading Success


Tips for Getting Ready for Kindergarten

Ask the Experts by Dorothy Heitjan and Kristen DeVooght

Q. How can we as parents help our preschooler make a successful transition into Kindergarten?

A. It is vital in the preschool years to provide your child with the experiences that will build the foundation for later success in school. 

Kindergarten bridges preschool to elementary school. Your child moves from working one-on-one with parents and preschool staff to working together with peers in small and large groups with one teacher. In order to help your child build this foundation, parents should provide:

Read more: Tips for Getting Ready for Kindergarten


Our Toxic Stuff

Ask the Experts by Melissa Sargent

Q: What is environmental health and how does it affect my everyday life?

A. We might think of trees, parks, and wild animals when we hear the word, "environment." But the study of environmental health-how the environment affects human health-often focuses on the built environment-our homes, schools, and offices. We spend 90% of our time indoors, amongst couches, desks, carpet, curtains, paint, windows, electronics, toys, etc. Therefore it's important to consider what makes up our surroundings. Some of the stuff in our homes and buildings contains chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and cognitive impairments.

Q: What are two simple things I can do in my home to reduce my family's exposure to toxics?

A. Open the windows of your "built" environment as much as possible to allow for sufficient air exchange. Chemicals inside are not exposed to direct sunlight, wind, and rain and therefore do not break down quickly. Wiping shoes well or simply leaving them at the door keeps pesticides, oil, and other pollutants away from living spaces.

Read more: Our Toxic Stuff


What you Need to Know about Enteroviruses and Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)

Ask the Experts by Prashant V. Mahajan, MD, MPH, MBA

Does your child seem to be suffering from respiratory illness?

If so he or she is not alone. Respiratory illness is a major cause of hospitalization for children.  One of the viruses that causes respiratory illness is called Enteroviruses.

Enteroviruses are very common viruses and are the second most frequent cause of the common cold. One type of strain that is making news is called Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). This strain causes mild to unusually severe respiratory illness. EV-D68 infections occur much less often than other Enterovirus strains, but like other strains, EV-D68 spreads through close contact with infected people.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is keeping a watchful eye out for the strain because hospitals in some state are seeing more children than usual with severe respiratory illness caused by Enterovirus D68. Several other states are investigating clusters of children with severe respiratory illness, possibly due to enterovirus D68.

Read more: What you Need to Know about Enteroviruses and Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)


Time to Take Away the Keys?

Ask the Experts by Mary Ellen Brayton

Q. My mother is a very independent woman but she’s not as mentally sharp as she used to be. It took her getting lost for me to realize that we needed to hire someone to help drive her around. It’s hard for me to take off work to take her to doctor’s appointments during the day. What can I do?

A. This is a common issue facing the children of aging parents. It's not an easy time for you I'm sure because this decision affects your mother's independence.

"When elders can no longer drive, they may start to feel trapped and out of control of their lives," says Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers.

Here are some things to be aware of:

Read more: Time to Take Away the Keys?


Executive Functioning: What is it & What Can I do to Help?

Ask the Experts by Dona Johnson-Beach

Q: My child is bright but lives in the moment. My teen completes homework and then forgets to turn it in and gets frustrated. I don't understand what the problem might be. Can anything be done to address these issues?

A: Your child's difficulties could involve executive skills deficits. Executive functioning allows people to problem solve and engage in goal-directed activities. In other words - the control processes of the brain.

The frontal lobe is considered to be the center of executive functioning. Often students with ADHD have difficulties with executive functioning skills and can have a delay of 30% - affecting behavior and self-management skills. If your child sounds like the student above, executive functioning skills difficulties could be the problem.

Read more: Executive Functioning: What is it & What Can I do to Help?


Finding "Normal" in the Middle School Years

Ask the Experts by Michael Dib

Q: What is considered a normal middle school student?

A: Many times parents are worried by changes in their middle school aged child. Please keep in mind that there will be many internal chemical and hormonal changes that occur during adolescence. You will experience behaviors that were not prevalent or observable during elementary school. 

Adolescents are constantly struggling with their sense of identity as they move toward independence. Middle school students often feel awkward about their bodies and may lack confidence. As a result, peer groups tend to influence interests and clothing styles. Indeed, middle school aged children can many times be narcissistic while alternating between high expectations and poor self-concept. Complicating these struggles, it is not uncommon for middle school students to create drama and build on that drama through social media like Facebook and Instagram.

Read more: Finding "Normal" in the Middle School Years


Overcoming Grief in a Healthy Way

Ask the Experts by Mary Petersen

Q: We have had a recent loss in our family. What will help us all recover in a healthy way? 

A: Every human being eventually will suffer some sort of loss, and the grief that results is normal. How we process that grief will determine how healthy we are as we come through the recovery. Additionally, processing sooner rather than later lends itself to the best outcome. 

It is imperative that we allow ourselves to move through the many stages of grief and let our reactions run their course fully until they wind down on their own. Often the stages are not neat and orderly like textbooks may suggest as they attempt to explain the nuances of human nature. Many times people are not sure how they feel or cannot seem to make sense of the loss. Sharing with others and verbalizing what is going on is imperative to help sort thoughts and get feelings out.

Read more: Overcoming Grief in a Healthy Way


Hope and Healing with a Faith Community

Ask the Experts by Rev. Peter J. M. Henry

Q: What role can a faith community play in my life if I am not really that religious?

A: I can't speak for every faith tradition, but in many congregations one does not have to be a member to attend worship, educational, pastoral and fellowship events. Most faith traditions have a interest in and commitment to the health of all people. This includes mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health and the desire to support others extends to anyone seeking that health.

It is true that some of the resources that a particular community brings to bear are unique to that community's tradition. However there are some basic elements that are common to most of our communities of faith. Principal among them is this: you do not have to be alone. When we grieve, we do not have to do so isolated from those who grieve with us and for us.

Read more: Hope and Healing with a Faith Community


Self-Care Skills for Coping with Grief

Ask the Experts by Mary Beth Garvey

Q: I've recently had a loss in my life and I'm getting a lot of advice about how I should be coping. Despite good intentions, people don't know what I'm experiencing or what feels right for me. Is there a "right way" to deal with grief?

A. There are many misconceptions about the grief process, but there are some basic self-care skills which are beneficial for anyone who is coping with a loss. 

It is particularly important to attend to your physical health because grief can be psychologically and physiologically exhausting.  Sleep, some exercise, and trying to eat well is a good starting point. Staying away from alcohol, which is a depressant, and other drugs which help you numb out, is also important.

Read more: Self-Care Skills for Coping with Grief


Keeping The Family Home Out Of Probate -The Deed in a Drawer Dilemma

Ask the Experts by Michael Kelly

Q. I heard from a friend that you can quitclaim your home to a loved one, never record it at the Register of Deeds, and then file it away in a dresser drawer or other location and let the loved one know where to find it when you pass on. The loved one can then record it and enjoy title to the property. Is this true?

A. For a very long time it has been commonplace in estate planning to use the "Deed in a Drawer" to pass real estate on after death without going through a probate procedure.

These deeds are a problem for a number of reasons:

Read more: Keeping The Family Home Out Of Probate -The Deed in a Drawer Dilemma


Mental Health First Aid Training Sessions to be Offered Through The Family Center

Ask the Experts by Pam Moffitt

Q: Can you tell me about the Mental Health First Aid training sessions that will be offered through The Family Center this Fall?

A: The Family Center, in partnership with the Tree of Hope Foundation and The Grosse Pointe Academy, will be offering certified Mental Health First Aid training. Just like First Aid and CPR training provide lay people with the skills to help someone experiencing a physical health crisis, Mental Health First Aid is a course, designed for lay people, to provide the skills needed to reach out to a person experiencing a mental health crisis.

Read more: Mental Health First Aid Training Sessions to be Offered Through The Family Center


Sports Injury Information

Ask the Experts by Edward Dabrowski, M.D.

Q: My 9-year-old son wants to play football next school year. Should I let him play?

A: Some sports are more dangerous than others. Contact sports such as football are more likely to result in a higher number of injuries than a noncontact sport such as swimming. However, all types of sports have a potential for injury from contact with other players or from overuse or misuse of the body.

Sprains and strains, tennis elbow, dislocations and illness due to heat exhaustion, cramps and stroke are common for growing children who participate in sports. Awareness, education, warning signs and early treatment can make a significant difference in keeping athletes in the game. Teaching athletes proper strength training, flexibility, conditioning and endurance minimizes the risk of injury. 

Q: I have heard concussions among athletes in contact sports such as football, hockey and soccer are common. What symptoms should I look for after a head injury?

A: Symptoms can happen immediately after an injury or several days later.

Symptoms to watch for include:

Read more: Sports Injury Information


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