Parenting Matters Conference

Parenting Matters logo
Empowering Parents and Caregivers with Children (prenatal- 3rd Grade)

1st Annual Parenting Matters Conference

Sponsored by Berrien RESA and Great Start Collaborative

Saturday, April 21st 2018 
8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Mars Elementary
430 West Mars Street
Berrien Springs, MI 49103

Parenting Matters is the first parenting conference in Berrien County!  This free, day-long conference is dedicated to empowering parents through fun, interactive and research-based workshops centered around popular parenting topics.  Parents will have the opportunity to learn about new information and develop skills that will help them feel more confident in raising their little ones

Register for conference 

View the Conference Schedule
View the Conference Flyer (Printable)

*Free transportation Available - contact Susan Parlak by 2:00pm on April 20th. 

Lunch is available: $11 - Taco Bar with ground beef, rice, beans and fresh fruit. Purchase lunch when registering for conference.  

Parenting Resource Tables Available 
If your agency, program or service would like to have materials on a display table at the conference, please let us know by completing this form.  

Workshop Sessions:

 Taking the Struggle Out of Bedtime

Susan Haselhoff-Lead Parent Educator & Mary Ann Graves-Parent Educator, Berrien RESA

Bedtime can be an emotionally charged time for you & your child.  We all know sleep is a key ingredient in a child’s growth and development, but what can we do to help them get the sleep they need?  You don’t need to teach your child to sleep; we are all are programmed to sleep.  What you can do is teach your child positive sleeping habits and routines.  Join us in this session to learn about the importance of sleep, how much sleep a child needs, strategies for bedtime routines, and possible obstacles that can get in the way of bedtime. (ages 1-5 yrs.) 


I Like Me!

Sue Benjamin & Donna Dodge, Northside Child Development Center

Participants will engage in activities that develop self-esteem and positive behaviors in children. Information will revolve around the books, “I Like Myself” and “How Full is Your Bucket”. We will dive into the Five Love Languages and relate the information to the children in our care. (ages 1yr.-3rd grade)


The Dad Difference

Patrick Conley, Supervisor of Birth-Three Services, Berrien RESA

Fathers bring a unique perspective and skills to parenting, just like mothers. Come explore some of those differences rooted in biology and psychology.  Based on information from the book Fatherneed by Kyle Pruett, MD, discover why a father’s role is essential in parenting and child development.  Parents will take away some unique information about how dads can carve out their role, increase engagement, and understand the benefits to both father and child. (ages birth-3yrs.)

Skills for Effective Parent Advocacy

Kelly Orginski, Michigan Alliance for Families

This presentation is about empowering parents so they can become effective advocates for their children and receive the Special Education services their child needs. Key knowledge includes: Understanding your child's disability, knowing your rights, being organized, and using clear, effective communication. (ages prenatal-3rd grade)


Because I Said So!

Leona Carter, Best Selling Author, Carter Strategies

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. –Henry Ford.
As mothers, using the power of your words to SAY SO in your life is going to be life-changing and change the trajectory of your children’s life. You have what you say. This presentation provides fun, interactive and thought-provoking information from Leona Carter's best-seller, "Because I said SO!" (ages birth-3rd grade)


Behaviors for Success

Eric Hopstock Ed.S. Berrien RESA

Did you know that Social Skills are the hottest job skill that employers are seeking at the present time?  As parents, we are developing the skills that our children need to be successful in school and in life as soon as they are born.  So, what are key skills that every child should know? Can these be taught? The Essential Behavior Outcome Skills (EBOS) identifies those key skills, provides a quick way to access competency of skills, and provides helpful hints to improve those skills.  Parents will take away ideas and strategies to increase these social skills in their children. (ages 1yr.- 3rd grade)


Meal Time Fun

Gina Mason, Director of Education, Curious Kids Museum

Make dinner time positive and fun. Meals are important but what happens around the table is also important. This program will promote positive attitudes toward food and create a friendly eating environment to help children form lifelong healthy, happy habits.  (ages prenatal-3rd grade)


Creating a Home Filled with Good Behavior

Kerenda Applebey, Berrien RESA

We can help our children learn to behave by thinking of the 3 steps to creating a wonderful home. 1. Laying the foundation – what are the things we can do right from the day children are born to help them to become well-behaved children? 2. What is the shape of the rooms in our home – how do both parents and children design the rooms of our house just by being who they are? 3. Just like decorating a house, there are things you can do to shape your children’s behavior in the ways that will make them more pleasant to be around. (ages prenatal-3rd grade)


Engaging Young Minds in Science and Technology

Dr. Justina Campbell

We all hear about the importance of exposing children to science, technology, engineering and math, but what does that look like for our littlest learners? This session will review the current research on early childhood STEM education and demonstrate specific examples of how to make STEM learning exciting! We will discuss the short- and long-term benefits of building strong foundations in STEM principles at a young age. (ages 1yr.-3rd grade)


Project Potty: It’s a Journey Not a Race

Susan Haselhoff & Mary Ann Graves, Berrien RESA

Every parent dreams of a diaper free world, just picture it- no more messes or buying diapers each month! So you are ready for potty training, but is your child ready? Join us to learn about readiness signs, potty learning strategies, and possible bumps in the road to help make your potty training journey not only successful but less stressful. (ages 1-5yrs.)


Get READY: Kindergarten has Changed!

Amanda Drew, Great Start Collaborative of Berrien County

Kindergarten has changed since us parents were in school. So what do today’s children need to know in order to be prepared to start school? In this workshop we’ll look at indicators that children should be reaching by the time they are three and by the time they start Kindergarten. Parents will also have the opportunity to develop activities to help their children get ready for school. (ages birth-5yrs.)

Gross Motor Milestones

Cathy Levy & Valerie Van Allen, Berrien RESA

Parents often have concerns about their child's rate of development and often compare it to other siblings or children.  This workshop will provide parents with ranges for typical development and ideas to facilitate gross motor growth. (ages birth-3rd grade)

It Takes a Village- Building Strength Through Community

Ashley Takace, Post-Adoption Resource Center

This presentation centers around the benefits of raising children with the support of others and building community. This team has learned from years of expertise working in the adoption and family services field that community matters. We believe that every parent has a common thread and that is to see their child or children thrive. Not only limited to adoptive families, we will dig into the subject of building a support network and creating a "village". This workshop will help facilitate practical ways to connect with others and provide participants with the opportunity to discuss common barriers to building relationships. We will discuss ways to prevent isolation, as well as help identifying ways to increase meaningful community engagement even with busy schedules. We will discuss how to foster a sense of connection within the larger scope of their community. We believe it takes a Village. (ages birth- 3rd grade)


Sensory Processing

Amy Stier, Occupational Therapist, Berrien RESA

What is sensory processing, and what can parents do when it impacts function and daily routines?  Learn about typical sensory processing, red flags for sensory problems and how to get help. This workshop will offer fun ways to increase sensory awareness and tolerance. (ages prenatal-3rd grade)


Fine Motor Skills for School Readiness

Amy Stier, Occupational Therapist, Berrien RESA

What fine motor skills are expected of your child when entering school?  This workshop will provide activities that parents can use to develop these skills in a fun way that is embedded in their daily routines. Learn about different Developmental levels and activities that will work on skills for writing, cutting, dressing, etc.  Parents will take away activities to assist with motor readiness for school success. (ages 1y.-3rd grade)


Language, Literacy, and Communication for Preschoolers

Tia Miller, Supervisor of Preschool Services, Berrien RESA

This presentation will focus on areas of language, literacy and communication that parents can use with their preschool age children. This workshop will help families understand the importance of children’s exposure to language, literacy and communication through print materials, spoken words and writings. Parents will be provided with activities that they can do in homes to expand this focus area with children. Parents will have an opportunity to explore and ask questions with other parents on this focus. This session will help parents support the expansion of learning and understand child development of a preschooler. (ages 3-5 yrs.)


Conscious Discipline

Maureen Pliley, Northside Child Development Center

Conscious Discipline was established by Dr. Becky Bailey as a behavior management tool for schools. We want to create a safe, connected, problem-solving environment for families. Families will learn how they can treat discipline as a learning approach instead of punishment. We want to help children to work thru the stressful situations without fear. Parents will be challenged to switch to make love a focus. Love is the focus on what they want children to do, giving choices, staying calm, and resolve conflicts in a way that creates closer relationships. (ages 1 yr.- 3rd grade)

The Science of Storytime

Tara Hunsberger, Youth Services Librarian, Niles District Library

Learn the science behind some of the fun activities that teachers and librarians perform during Storytime! When teachers and librarians plan storytimes, we have a method to our madness! This presentation is all about creating a storytime lesson that will be memorable, meaningful, and educational to the little developing brains. Use these skills at home to extend the learning. (ages birth-5yrs.)

Decreasing Temper Tantrums

Kerenda Applebey, Berrien RESA

All children have Temper Tantrums, but as a parent you can help them to decrease quickly OR you can mistakenly do things that make them worse. This workshop will help you understand the cause of Temper Tantrums, identify some practical tools for preventing and handling them, and know when to worry that they are more than is typical. (ages 1-3yrs.)

 Awakening the Parenting Heart: The Energetics of Communication

Jennifer Summers & Debra Sheehan

The internal energy a person creates and emits influences themselves and others that surround them. Through this interactive presentation we aim to empower participants with information and tools that will assist them in shifting their internal energy so as to create an environment where they and their children can thrive. 


Working with focused questions and utilizing the participant’s individual experiences, we will explore the internal landscape of thoughts, bodily sensations and needs using concrete tools from HeartMath and Nonviolent Communication (NVC). These tools will give participants the ability to shift into a state of balance where mind, body and the heart are in alignment. When this coherence is achieved one is internally connected and thus centered which allows our natural state of compassion to flourish and allows an empathic connection with others to manifest externally through the ability to respond with integrity and empathy instead of react from habit based on our conditioning. 

(ages prenatal-3rd grade)

Routines for Young Children

Liz Naudi & Niki Ryder, Berrien RESA

Discover how having predictable and consistent routines benefit your child and make parenting easier for you. You will take away materials that can easily be used throughout your day. Parents will have the opportunity to make a visual schedule/routine for their child/family to use at home. (ages 1-5 yrs.)


Creation Station: Let’s Play and Create Math Games

Joe Elsheikhi, Berrien RESA

Math games can be lots of fun and beneficial for the whole family.  This workshop will focus on how to encourage our children’s critical thinking skills.  Parents will have the opportunity to learn and create new math games for all ages. (ages K-3rd grade)


Berrien RESAGreat Start

Contact Information

Susan Parlak Headshot

Parent Conference Coordinator 
Susan Parlak
Tel: 269-471-7725, ext. 1356
Fax: 269-473-1113

Heather S Photo

Parent Conference Coordinator 
Heather Steinbrook

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