Michigan’s Department of Human Services helps families pay for energy and weatherization costs through the Home Heating Credit, State Emergency Relief Program and Weatherization Assistance Program. Call (855) 275-6424 for details. Michigan’s Public Service Commission also provides utility disconnection protection. Call (517) 241-6180 to inquire. Additionally, DTE Energy has several programs that assist customers in paying their energy bills, including the Winter Protection Program and THAW. Call (800) 477-4747 for more information.

While many parents focus on preparing their child for the upcoming school year before the school year starts, there are also several things that parents can do the first few weeks of school to help their child transition smoothly from summer vacation to their normal school schedule.

Ease back into scheduled days.
After kids are used to having a later bedtime during the summer, getting up for an early morning bus ride can be quite a shock to their system. But starting their bedtime routine several minutes earlier every night and waking them up several minutes earlier every morning until they are back on track can help. It is also important to praise your child for a prompt response to the morning schedule.

Keep open lines of communication with your child.
Try to avoid generalized questions, as you will often receive generalized answers. Instead, ask more specific questions and build upon their responses. It is important for kids to know that we care about their lives, that we are there to support them and that we are there to help them develop strategies for solving problems themselves.

Try to spend one-on-one time with your child every day.
Challenge yourself to set aside 10-15 minutes per day for you and your child to enjoy an individualized activity together after school. From reading a book together to playing a board game, children will value your undivided attention, and both of you will benefit.

While many children look forward to the summer as being free from the rigors of daily class assignments, parents can actually continue to promote higher academic and social achievement by keeping their child active during the summer months.

Summer Learning Programs

Studies show that summer learning programs can mitigate summer learning losses and even lead to achievement gains. Additionally, summer programs that focus on specific fields give children an opportunity to explore their interests and encourage them to think about what field they would like to work in as adults. There are many free and low-cost summer programs being offered in the Dearborn area this summer, including those through the Dearborn Adult & Community Education Program and local libraries. Be sure to ask about scholarships!

Play Dates

Consider setting up play dates for your child. Research shows that friendship plays a powerful role in protecting children from the effects of bullying. Children with at least one friend are less likely to be bullied and are better able to cope with bullying once it has occurred. Studies have also shown that children without friendships may not perform as well academically.

Educational Websites

If it is too hot to venture outside, there are a number of educational websites that children can visit to practice their academic skills including highlightkids.com, pbskids.org, starfall.com, kids.nationalgeographic.com, www.seussville.com, tvokids.com, abcya.com and sciencebob.com. www.funbrain.com.

  1. Start small. Start by offering a tiny portion size. For example, try a single pea, part of a noodle, or a crumble of cheese. You can then gradually increase the portion at each meal.
  2. Stick with it. Experts agree that it takes an average of 6 attempts for kids to accept new foods.
  3. Cut back on snacks and drinks. Research has shown that kids who resist new foods often eat snack foods or drink throughout the day, which limits their hunger for foods at meals.
  4. Invite an adventurous friend over. Seeing a friend try a new food can encourage your child to try that same food.

Dietary changes have been found to result in improvements in symptoms of hyperactivity, concentration and impulsivity.

  • Get Plenty of Protein- Foods rich in protein, including lean beef, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, soy and low-fat dairy products are used by the brain to make neurotransmitters, which help children focus attention. Protein also prevents increases in blood sugar, which increases hyperactivity.
  • Avoid Sugar- Sugar can make children feel irritable, stressed and unfocused.
  • Eat lots of Omega-3s- Omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) can improve symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and concentration. Research suggests that children with ADHD have lower blood levels of omega-3s than children without the condition.
  • Maintain iron, zinc and magnesium levels- Research suggests that children with ADHD have lower blood levels of these essential vitamins than children without the condition.
  • Avoid food chemicals- Studies suggest that artificial additives can make children more hyperactive. Read food ingredient labels to find additive-free foods and try to stick to as many fresh, unprocessed foods as possible.


  1. You’ll have fewer attention-seeking behaviors– When parents play with their children, they proactively fill the child’s need for attention and decrease behaviors that children might otherwise exhibit in order to receive that attention.
  2. It’s a chance to create an emotional connection– Many of the daily interactions between parents and kids consists of giving directions and corrections. However, when parents play on the floor and have fun with their kids, emotional connections are strengthened and lasting memories are created.
  3. You’ll have more cooperative children– When the child’s need for emotional connection and attention are met, they don’t feel the need to “fight us” to get negative attention and are more cooperative when asked to do things throughout the day.

Here are some questions you can ask your child if you’re interested in getting more information from them about their school day.

  1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
  2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
  3. If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)
  4. Where is the coolest place at the school?
  5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.)
  6. If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
  7. How did you help somebody today?
  8. How did somebody help you today?
  9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
  10. When were you the happiest today?
  11. When were you bored today?
  12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
  13. Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?
  14. Tell me something good that happened today.
  15. What word did your teacher say most today?
  16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
  17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
  18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
  19. Where do you play the most at recess?
  20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
  21. What was your favorite part of lunch?
  22. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
  23. Is there anyone in your class who needs a time-out?
  24. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
  25. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.

Hi! My name is Elizabeth Elster and I am the new full-time social worker at Nowlin Elementary School.  I graduated from Wayne State University with my Bachelors and Masters degrees in Social Work and have several years of experience as a school social worker in the metro Detroit area. I have had a wonderful time getting to know everyone and becoming part of the Nowlin community.

Some of the topics that I help students with include conflict resolution, emotional regulation, executive functioning, interpersonal relationships and more!

I pride myself in being accessible to all, so please do not hesitate to contact me via my blog, in person or at (313)827-6900 Ext. 22331 or elstere@dearbornschools.org if you’d ever like to discuss any social, emotional or behavioral concerns that you have for your child!