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  • Child Development in the First Five Years Part 2: The Importance of Rest

    This post is Part 2 in a four-part series on how rest, nutrition, and a healthy home life help babies, toddlers, and preschoolers grow into healthy, successful kindergarten students. You can read the first post here.

    Research shows that rest plays a big role in a child’s mental, emotional, and physical development. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says that sleep improves learning, helps children pay attention, and aids in creative thinking.

    Children who don’t get enough rest, according to the NHLBI, may have trouble getting along with others, and might struggle to stay awake and pay attention in school. (Source)

    When children live in lower socioeconomic environments, these problems are compounded. The American Psychological Association (APA) says that children living in lower socioeconomic conditions suffer more from lost sleep than kids do who live in middle-class or upper-class homes:

    “Social class moderated the link between children’s sleep and cognitive functioning on standardized ability tests. Children of middle and lower class had similar performance when sleep was optimal, but when sleep was poor, lower SES children’s cognitive performance suffered.” (Source)

    It’s not surprising that poor sleep affects a child’s alertness the next day. It’s more surprising to learn that research shows a correlation between poor sleep patterns now and a child’s academic performance two years later. Children who sleep in early childhood are more likely to be successful when they start school years later.

    Parents Can Help Young Children to Sleep Well

    A number of factors contribute to poor sleep in young children. Some of those factors, like minimizing cigarette smoke in the home, are relatively easy for parents to control. Factors like reducing family conflict, however, might be more difficult to address.

    The APA recommends that parents pay attention to the physical environment a child sleeps in, as well as to the psychological environment around them. Physical things like a comfortable bed affect sleep, but it’s also affected by more complex factors like family conflict:

    “Clean, comfortable bedding, adequate heating and cooling, and reduction of airborne toxins (e.g. tobacco smoke; allergens) all facilitate good sleep. In the psychosocial realm, parental management of bedtimes, monitoring of caffeine, restricting media use, noise abatement and reducing precipitators of anxiety (e.g. family conflict), are all ways to improve sleep.” (Source)

    Getting a good night’s rest is critical for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to grow into healthy kindergarteners who are mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to start school.

    Rest isn’t the only critical ingredient to good health during the first five years. In our next post, we’ll take a look at the importance of nutrition. Come back for the next post in this four-part series on early childhood development.

    If you found this post helpful, we encourage you to bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog and to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

    Learn More:
    Child Development in the First Five Years
    Now for Later: A Campaign for Early Childhood Education in Missouri
    Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten in Missouri
    Missouri Updates to 10 by 20
    Tax Breaks Don’t Benefit Students

  • Child Development in the First Five Years Part 4: A Healthy Home Life

    This the final post in a four-part series on how rest, nutrition, and a healthy home life help babies, toddlers, and preschoolers grow into healthy, successful kindergarten students. You can the additional posts in the series here, followed by this post on the importance of proper rest.

    In the first part of this series on child development in the first five years, we featured a video created by The Ounce of Prevention Fund in Chicago, Illinois. A child’s voice narrates the video, saying that he’s one of the “thousands of little miracles born into poverty each day”.

    Later in the video, the child narrators take turns saying, “I’m twice as likely to be in special education. I’m 30 percent more likely to never go to college. I’m 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.”

    These are some of the realities for children who are at-risk at home. Learning begins before children start school, so kids who are born into unsafe or unhealthy homes begin life at a disadvantage that can follow them into adulthood. Studies have shown that children are more successful in school—and later in life—when they eat well, get proper rest, and have a safe and emotionally supportive home life in the first five years.

    According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF),

    “...Babies learn rapidly from the moment of their birth.They grow and learn the most when they receive affection, attention and stimulation in addition to good nutrition and proper health care. Investments in early child development through early learning activities and improved school readiness along with health and nutrition interventions increases the likelihood that boys and girls will complete primary school.” (source)

    The circumstances surrounding an at-risk child’s home life can be complex, including abuse and neglect, homelessness, and poor (or no) childcare while parents are at work. These aren’t simple problems to fix, and many families might feel truly discouraged by their situations.

    Missouri Parent encourages parents and other caregivers to create the safest and most supportive home life possible. Even small changes can make a big difference for young children. Here are a few small ways you can help your baby, toddler, or preschool succeed:

    · Read a bedtime story together each night.
    · Eat breakfast together in the morning.
    · Provide a comfortable sleeping environment for your child.
    · Set regular bed times and wake-up times for your child each day.

    If your family’s needs are more than you can meet, there are programs and resources out there that can help you take care of your child. Here is a list of state agencies and programs that help families with winter heating costs, child abuse and neglect, and other home life challenges:
    · Be an advocate for your child: if your home situation is unsafe, get help.
    · Is your home cold this winter? See if you qualify for the Missouri Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or the Missouri Weatherization Assistance Program.
    · Is your baby sleeping in an unsafe bed? The Safe Crib Project from the Children’s Trust Fund of Missouri might be able to help you.
    · Early Head Start helps provide safe and developmentally enriching caregiving for infants and toddlers under the age of 3.

    In previous posts, we’ve talked about the importance of rest and nutrition in early childhood development. Each of those posts includes links to state and federal programs to help point you in the right direction to help your family or a family you know who has children under the age of five in Missouri.

    We hope that you’ll continue to use the Missouri Parent Blog as a resource for information about early childhood education, policies and funding issues in Missouri. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Caring for Our Kids Helps them Learn Reading and Math


    In 2008, a researcher in England published a working paper that showed something that many hard-working parents in Missouri will be glad to hear: that simply taking good care of your child will help him or her to do better in school.

    According to the study, there’s more than one way a child can get an edge in school. We all know that family income and other financial resources can afford a child unique experiences and support, but the researchers in this study argued that money isn’t the only variable for student success. The way a parent cares for his or her child plays a huge role in academic learning.

    “The evidence suggests that caring for children [...] has a substantial correlation with the children’s measured skills in reading and math,” the paper said, “and this relationship is separable from the advantages of family resources.”

    In other words, even after adjusting for financial resources, parents who cared for their children from pregnancy through elementary school helped their kids do better in math and reading.

    Care is a hard thing to measure, of course, so researchers selected a variety of parental behaviors that they felt were a reflection of the way parents care for their children. The intent was to account for the way parents use the resources they do have (time, energy, and attention — but also money) to support their kids.

    The thing we found really uplifting about this study is that it provides evidence that there are things that every single parent in Missouri — no matter how big or small your income — can do to help give your child a stronger foundation for reading and math.

    From not smoking while pregnant to reading to your child often and from a young age; from showing an interest in your child’s schoolwork and activities to encouraging him or her to stay in school, you can do small things that make a big difference for your child.

    Many of the ways you can help your child, according to the study, don’t cost anything. “Caring, as measured here,” said the study, “does not ‘cost money’.”

    Contact your child’s teacher to ask about how he or she is doing in the classroom. Read your child a book, or let them read one to you. Take your child on a little outing to a local park, museum, or library this weekend, and make sure that they’re getting the rest, nutrition, and safe home life they need to succeed in school.

    Want to learn more about how you can help your child succeed in school? Bookmark Missouri Parent News, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, where we post policy updates, parenting tips, and other education news that’s relevant to you, the Missouri public school parent.

  • Do Standardized Tests in Reading Measure Teachers or Parents?


    A story on indicated that math scores on standardized tests are easier to improve upon then reading scores are. Their rationale: students’ language learning is less strongly influenced by formal education than by home life. This got us thinking about standardized tests, and whether they measure the success of teachers, parents, or both. (Source) didn’t cite specific research, but it did point out that reading levels are deeply intertwined with a student’s personal background and home life, meaning that standardized test scores for reading might say more about a child’s parents and informal learning than it does about the child’s classroom education:

    “Math is a skill that students mostly learn in school. Reading skills, on the other hand, are more intertwined with students’ backgrounds — everything from their family income to how many words they heard early in life,” the story said.

    Curious, we hunted around the Internet looking for research and other news stories to support the idea that teachers may have less influence on students’ test scores (in any subject area) than parents do. Here’s what we found:

    · The Telegraph reports on a study conducted at the University of London that showed parental influence to be five times more powerful than formal education. (Source)
    · The Heritage Foundation says that there is a “strong relationship between parental influences and children’s educational outcomes, from school readiness to college completion.” (Source)
    · This Op-Ed piece from the New York Times says that teenagers whose parents read them books often as young children scored much higher on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) test than those whose parents did not often read to them. (Source)
    · But this blog post, also from the New York Times, begs to differ. Parent involvement in a child’s education, according to a study by the authors, is overrated.

    What do you think? Do you believe that how you supplement your child’s formal education at home has as strong — or stronger — of an influence on your child’s standardized test scores than their formal public school education does? Weigh in on our Facebook Page, or leave a comment right here on the blog.

    You can read the full story that inspired this post here.

    Bookmark Missouri Parent News today or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates on Missouri education policy, testing, and other educational initiatives affecting Missouri’s public school students.

  • 3 Important Programs for At-Risk Children in Missouri


    We have talked a lot lately on the Missouri Parent Blog about the importance of early childhood education, and about some of the resources available to Missouri families who have young children at home. Today we’ll take a closer look at three programs that serve at-risk youth: Parents as Teachers, Title I, and Head Start. Read on to learn more about what each of these programs does and where their funding comes from.

    Parents As Teachers
    The Parents as Teachers network is international, and it serves families in all 50 states. Its programs help increase parent involvement and improve early intervention where a child’s physical, academic, and emotional development is concerned.

    The organization “helps young children grow up healthy, safe and ready to learn” by providing health screenings, home visits, and parent education to families with young children. (Source)

    Funding for Parents as Teachers comes from many places, including private sources and local, state, and federal governments.

    Private funding for Parents as Teachers comes from “foundations, corporations, unions, religious groups, local agencies (e.g., United Way or Variety Club), service organizations (e.g. PTAs, Kiwanis, Junior League, sororities or fraternities), special events, and from individuals.” (Source)

    Government funding comes from a variety of programs and departments, including the Department of Education Funding and the Department of Health and Human Services Funding, including Title I.

    Title I
    Title I is a federal grant program “designed to give educational assistance to students living in areas of high poverty”. Title I started in 1965 with the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and it remains the biggest federal program for elementary and secondary education. Most of the children served by Title I funding are in the first through fifth grades. (Source)

    Title I funds can be used for instructional purposes, as well as to hire staff members. Outcomes of Title I program funding for some schools include things like reduced class sizes, extended learning time, and coaching.

    Head Start Funding
    Another important resource for Missouri’s at-risk communities is the Head Start Program. Head Start is a federal grant program that aims to provide “high-quality, comprehensive early education programming to low-income children and families so that children start school ready to succeed.” (Source)

    Both non-profit and for-profit institutions can apply for Head Start grants, but federal funding can only contribute up to 80% of the program’s costs, with some restrictions. More specifically, the Head Start website explains that,

    “Public or private nonprofit organizations, including community-based and faith-based organizations, or for-profit agencies within a community that wish to compete for funds are eligible to apply for Head Start funding.” (Source)

    Funding for Head Start is competitive, even within individual communities. Regulations ensure that Head Start funding is directed to the most effective programs—the ones that can provide the highest-quality early learning experiences to children.

    Some Missouri communities have recently experienced unexpected cuts to Head Start Funding. We talked about programs in Springfield and Kirksville in this post on the importance of investing in early childhood education.

    As a new legislative session approaches, Missouri Parent believes that early child’s education—especially for our most vulnerable young children—is worth advocating for. If you agree, please bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed about funding and legislative issues facing Missouri’s at-risk early learners.

  • Money Saving Tips for First-Time College Students and Parents

    As we near the end of another school year, many of our readers and their graduating seniors are experiencing the transition from K-12 education to college life.

    A big change everyone in this transition will experience is the cost of living increase. Here are a few tips for your family to keep expenses under control:

    Textbooks Are Expensive
    One of the biggest sticker shocks of anyone’s life is when they discover the price of college textbooks. One tactic to save money on needed class materials is to buy them as early as possible to avoid the higher prices some procrastinators pay. Another is to look online for used or rental copies of needed books. In cases like this, sites like Amazon and Big Words can become a student’s best friend.

    Busses Aren’t Just For School
    Public transit is generally available in most university and college towns. Using these affordable and available resources can help to save money which would otherwise go to payments, insurance, and upkeep of a personal car. For those trips home on the weekend there are options such as Greyhound, Megabus, and ride share programs available.

    Cover Yourselves
    From unruly roommates to untrustworthy acquaintances, student property can be at risk when away at school. A good renter’s insurance policy can end up saving you thousands of dollars in replacement costs for broken or stolen electronics or equipment.

    Enjoy these days in your new education journey with your graduating student and if you have any additional ideas for first-time college parents to save money, feel free to share them in the comments below or on our Facebook and Twitter profiles.

  • Saving for College…and for Childcare?

    A 2013 study by Child Care Aware® America says that childcare costs more than in-state tuition does in 31 states in the nation, including Missouri.

    The Child Care Aware® study isn’t the first to try to provide insights into the complex financial equation of daycare expenses, college tuition, and income from one or both parents. Should both parents work outside the home or should one parent stay home full time? Does a stay-at-home-job make sense for one parent? Is part-time employment possible? If it is, does it pay enough to balance the cost of childcare during the hours when both parents work? And what about single-parent families: What’s the best way for a single mom or dad to provide for kids?

    Families face innumerable considerations when making childcare, employment, and college savings decisions. Likewise, there are a number of variables at play when comparing a state’s college and childcare costs against those in other states: Some states offer heavier subsidies for in-state college tuition than other states do. Cost of living also varies from one state (and region of that state) to another, and daycare costs can differ dramatically depending on the amount and quality of care a child receives.

    Childcare is a significant investment for your family — In Missouri the bottom line is that childcare costs about $400 a year more than in-state tuition does. As a result, the decisions you make now about child care are just as important, financially speaking, as those you’ll make later about college.

    Make sure your child is getting the most out of day care by thoroughly researching the options in your community. Look for providers who have education or certifications in early childhood education or child development, and don’t forget that summer day camps and summer school programs can be a great way to keep older kids learning, even when they’re not in school.

  • What Was Your Parenting Instruction Manual?

    There’s a barrage of parenting resources out there these days for parents at every stage in their lives and with kids of every age and disposition. First time parent? There’s a blog for that. Adoptive parent? There’s a book for that. Parent of a child with special needs? Take your pick of books, blogs, programs, and specialists.

    New parents might have it the worst, with stacks and stacks (literally and digitally) of materials available to them and enough pre-baby peace and quiet to read or for more than broken intervals of time. From classics like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “Happiest Baby on the Block” to newer and trendier resources like “A Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy” or the Scary Mommy Blog, there’s no shortage of information and opinions on parenthood.

    But parents of older kids have it tough, too. How many times have you wished there was a manual that told you what button to push to make your two-year-old’s tantrum stop? Or a handbook on how not to worry all night long about your teenager? How many hours have you spent Googling behaviors, health issues, or child developmental milestones, trying to better understand, and parent, your child.

    The sheer volume of information available is incredible. It can also be frustrating. Researcher and author Danah Boyd admits to throwing her “fair share of them [parenting books] across the room” in her review of Parentology by Dalton Conley. Surely she’s not the only one to admit that there’s not a prescription for parenting.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of great parenting tips, tools, and advice that can be found online and in books on parenting. So how, as a parent, have you navigated the vast sea of parenting resources? What was your parenting instruction manual?

    We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment today here on the MOParent Blog or on our Facebook Page.

  • Spring Break is a Time for Action

    This is the week the Missouri Legislature takes its annual spring break. This usually signifies the halfway mark of the legislative session and allows our elected officials to reconnect with their constituents. Spring break is also a great time for you to discuss important public education issues with your state representatives and senators.

    So far this session there has been lengthy discussion on issues such as education funding, transfers of students from unaccredited school districts and tax cuts which would greatly impact your local schools.

    Missouri Parent has carefully watched and reported on these topics through our website and social media. You have probably read and shared our content with your fellow parents.

    When it comes to education funding, the legislature has chosen to ignore the budget recommendations of Governor Nixon and only commit to an additional $122 million towards the Foundation Formula. This legislative proposal, while appreciated, still leaves the state more than $478 million behind in funding our public schools. Our position: Work to fully fund the Foundation Formula. TWEET THIS

    Regarding student transfers, of the many bills which have been filed and debated, Missouri Parent only fully supports HB 2037 filed by Rep. Jeanie Lauer (R-Blue Springs). Thank Rep. Lauer HERE. This bill creates a proactive system of dealing with struggling school districts, protects the students who are left behind in our few failing districts, brings education professionals in as the problem solvers instead of hired gun bureaucrats and protects the investments made by Missouri’s taxpayers into all of our schools. Our position: Fix broken schools and protect students first. TWEET THIS

    Finally, when it comes to tax cuts, we stand with Governor Nixon and legislators who will only support tax cuts which take effect when the Foundation Formula is fully funded. The Governor vetoed last year’s risky tax cut idea and will probably do the same to any bill which does not protect funding for public schools. Our position: Fully fund public schools before any tax cuts become reality. TWEET THIS

    We ask you to take a moment this week to contact your local legislators and ask them to support public schools at the local and state level. When the legislators come back next week, discussions will run fast and furious to pass all the required legislation by their deadlines in May. Your input may be the voice they need to hear to truly fully fund, protect students, and build the future of our public schools in Missouri. TWEET THIS

  • Flipped: Powerful Questions To Ask Your Child

    Recently, educator Recebba Alber shared a thoughtful blog post on called “5 Powerful Questions Teachers Can Ask Students”. The post was the learning curve she experienced as a teacher who wanted to ask thoughtful questions of her students.

    Her post got us thinking about what would happen if you flipped those 5 questions around at home, asking them in conversations with your kids.

    Below are Alber’s questions, paired with hypothetical times and ways when you could use the same questions while talking with your son or daughter. If you try any of these out, let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear from you.

    1. “What do you think?”

    • When discussing a current event.
    • After watching the news together.
    • When your child tells you about a social situation at school.
    • When you talk about the differences between how a friend’s family does things (meals, curfews, homework time) and how yours does.

    2. “Why do you think that?”

    • As a follow-up question to “What do you think?” to help your child verbally communicate his or her logic.
    • When your child shares his or her opinion with you about something at school or in extra-curricular/after school activities.
    • When your child expresses a strong opinion about a peer’s attitude, perspective, or personality.

    3. “How do you know this?”

    • When your child makes an assumption about a situation (at school, socially, or in extra-curricular/after school activities).
    • When your child states a fact about a current event.
    • When your child talks about social situations at school (example: “Johnny did this” or “Susie said that”).

    4. “Can you tell me more?”

    • When your child shows enthusiasm about a subject, whether that “subject” is an academic one, a hobby, or even a professional a sports team.
    • As a follow-up to any of the above questions.

    5. “What questions do you still have?”

    • As a follow-up to a conversation when you’ve helped explain something to your son or daughter.
    • As you’re helping your child with homework.
    • In conversations you’re helping your child have with other adults (examples: in a conference with a teacher, questions you’re asking of a healthcare provider, or interactions with a coach or other mentor). You’ll encourage your son or daughter to assert himself or herself in order to gather information.

    Image via Getty.

  • Navigating Parenthood from Pre-K through High School

    A new web-based tool from NBC News’ Education Nation helps parents track and support kids’ progress at every step of their Pre-K through 12th grade education. The site includes an academic growth chart, parent tips for supporting and encouraging kids’ academic achievement, and a helpful parent teacher conference guide.

    Growth Charts
    Right now, the site offers academic “Growth Charts”, which include benchmarks and tips, including key concepts and skills that students should learn at each grade level from Pre-K through 12. Additional Growth Charts for Social Development and Health & Wellness are expected to be published later in 2014.

    The site’s Academic Growth Charts are separated by grade level, and each includes an overview, as well as a section on English Language Arts (ELA) and math.

    “Your 2nd grader”, it says in its 2nd grade overview, “will be learning to understand and discuss information from a range of sources and she will also begin learning to express herself effectively in writing. She’ll continue to build upon the math skills she learned in 1st grade.”

    In addition to explaining what students should learn each year, the site also offers grade-specific and subject-specific parents tips.

    Parent Tips
    Parents can find resources here for helping their kids with Math and ELA studies. For example, fourth grade students are encouraged to help their kids with math by:

    • Encouraging a positive attitude toward math
    • Reading math problems aloud
    • Integrating math problems into everyday activities
    • Keeping an eye out for math concepts
    • Highlighting how math is used in cooking
    • …and more.

    Parent Teacher Conference Tips
    The Toolkit offers general Parent Teacher Conference tips, as well as grade-specific parent teacher conference guides, and a handy before- and after- conference parent checklist.

    See also:

    Making the Most of Parent Teacher Conferences

    Talking to Your Child About Parent Teacher Conferences

    The site enlisted the help of educational experts from all over the U.S., including two Missouri teachers; Cathy Cartier, a high school English teacher from the Affton School District in St. Louis and Dr. J. Michael Pragman, the Director or Research, Evaluation and Accountability with the North Kansas City School District.

    The NBC Education National Parent Toolkit might be a helpful resources for you as you monitor your son or daughter’s growth and development from Pre-K through 12th grade.

    If you visit the toolkit, we’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment on the blog or on the Missouri Parent Facebook Page.

    Image via Getty.

  • America’s Oldest and Largest Arts Education Program: Reflections

    The oldest and largest arts education program of its kind in the United States is the Parent Teacher Association’s (PTA) “Reflections” program.

    The PTA believes that every child deserves a quality arts education, which is why it’s encouraged Pre-K through 12th grade students to bring themes to life through film productiondance choreographyliteraturemusic compositionphotography, and visual arts since 1969.

    The PTA believes that participation in the arts:
    · Levels the playing field for underserved students
    · Develops the whole child
    · Nurtures creativity and teamwork
    · Connects families and schools to one another and to their communities

    Each year, hundreds of thousands of students enter the Reflections program through their local PTAs. Entries are divided by grade level (Pre-K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, and an all-grades category called “Special Artist”), and local winners go on to compete at the district/region and state levels. State winners are considered for National PTA Reflections awards, including:
    · Outstanding Interpretation Awards
    · Awards of Excellence
    · Awards of Merit

    The 2013-14 Reflections program theme is “Believe, Dream, Inspire.” Students can register for Reflections using this form on the Missouri PTA’s website. If your school’s PTA hasn’t yet registered to participate in the 2013-14 Reflections program, you can find the PTA Unit Participation Form here.

    Interested in learning more? Visit the 2012-13 or 2011-2012 online Reflections galleries. You can also learn more on the National PTA’s website or on the Missouri PTA’s website.

  • Wraparound Services for Missouri’s K-12 Public School Students

    In October, the Missouri House Interim Committee on Education identified 12 educational issues that were of interest to stakeholders around the state. One of those issues was called wraparound services.

    As the legislature reconvenes for the 97th General Assembly, wraparound services may be a subject that you begin hearing more about. This post is designed to help you better-understand what wraparound is and what it means in context of Missouri’s public schools.

    What the Committee Says About Wraparound Services:

    · Wraparound services can “make an enormous difference in a student’s life”.
    · Wraparound services “are not a panacea; to be most effective, they must be fine-tuned to each district's circumstances”.
    · The wraparound services in many districts are the result of individuals (a principal, a staff member, or a district patron) connecting resources in the community to student needs.

    What, Exactly, are Wraparound Services?

    According to the National Wraparound Initiative:

    “Since the term was first coined in the 1980s, “wraparound” has been defined in different ways. It has been described as a philosophy, an approach, and a service. In recent years, wraparound has been most commonly conceived of as anintensive, individualized care planning and management process.” (source)

    What Does Wraparound Mean for Missouri Schools?

    Wraparound services are collaborative programs between community organizations and schools. In most cases, those collaborations result in the creation of Individualized Treatment Plans (ITPs) for students who need them. The school, the student, the student’s family and the community organizations involved in the wraparound service work together to implement the student’s ITP.

    The exact services provided in a student’s ITP vary from one child to the next, but they can be social, behavioral, educational, or nutritional in nature. Some specific examples include:

    · Counseling
    · Foster or group home care
    · Medical care (examples include vision care or help with managing asthma)
    · Afterschool programs
    · Tutoring
    · Truancy prevention programs
    · English Language Learning (ELL )support

    Wraparound Services are Close to Home

    One of the key elements of Missouri’s wraparound services is that they’re close to home. Each community pairs schools, students, and resources as needed. The result is that wraparound services are unique from one community to the next.

    There is no one entity that manages wraparound services, so to learn more about the services available in your own community or at your child’s school, we suggest contacting a school counselor or principal.

    Want to Learn More?

    To learn more about the Missouri House Interim Committee on Education, see these Missouri Parent posts:

    Missouri Interim Committee on Education Hearing Results
    The Missouri House Interim Committee on Education Public Hearing Schedule
    The Missouri House Interim Committee on Education October Hearings
    Highlights of Recent Missouri Education Hearings

    To learn more about the current Missouri Legislative Session? Click here.

  • Getting Involved in the New Year: Joining Your PTA

    It’s a new year, and with the new year comes new opportunities. Resolutions are made, goals and set, and fresh perspectives begin on January 1st each year. This year, why not consider getting more involved in your child’s school by joining your local PTA?

    The PTA is an independent, self-governing organization that works independently of schools, school districts, or school boards. In other words, the PTA give you the freedom to work together with other parents to decide what programs and projects will best benefit your children.

    The PTA is also local. There are more than 20,000 local PTA units across the United States, represented at the National PTA level by 55 state congresses.

    Research shows that parent involvement is critical to student success. When parents are involved, kids’ test scores and school attendance improve, and they do their homework more consistently. Kids whose parents are involved in their education are also more likely to graduate high school and enroll in post-secondary education.

    If the PTA feels like a good choice for you, there are three ways to get involved:
    1. Join Your Local PTA
    (Contact the Missouri PTA office for the contact information of your local PTA. Phone: 800-328-7330 or 573-445-4161. Email:
    2. Join the Show Me State PTA
    3. Organize a New PTA

    Stay connected to the Missouri PTA:
    Missouri PTA on Facebook
    Missouri PTA on Twitter
    Visit the Missouri PTA’s Website

  • Talking to Your Child About Parent Teacher Conferences

    Earlier this week, we shared a blog post called “Making the Most of Parent Teacher Conferences”. Today, we’ll explore how conversations with your child before and after your parent teacher conference will help engage your son or daughter in the process.

    Before the Parent Teacher Conference
    One of the most important ways you can prepare for a parent teacher conference is to talk with your child.

    Start by reassuring your child that you and the teacher will be meeting because you both want him or her to enjoy learning and to succeed in school.

    Engage your son or daughter in the conversation before you meet with the teacher by asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to the answers.

    Some examples of open-ended questions include:

    What’s your favorite subject this year? (why?)
    What’s your least favorite? (and why?)
    What do you think of your teacher?
    Do you spend time with other teachers, too, for classes like PE, speech, art, or music?
    Tell me about the kids in your class.
    What’s lunchtime like at school?
    Who do you like to play with at recess? What kinds of games do you play together?

    Talking About Grades
    Ask your child about recent homework assignments, projects, assignments and test scores. Has he or she finished any units recently? Was there an end-of-unit project or exam? How did he or she do? Did he or she feel prepared for the test or quiz?

    Especially for older students, it can also be helpful to talk about the school’s grading scales, and whether there are grading curves on assignments or tests. Talk about upcoming standardized tests, advanced placement exams, the ACT or the SAT. Does your child feel prepared for those tests? Find out if there’s anything you can talk with his or her teachers about to help him or her feel confident about those tests.

    Talk to Your Son or Daughter After
    Once you’ve met with your son or daughter’s teacher(s), talk with your child again. Share any good news first, and then talk about any concerns your child’s teacher had. If you discussed improvement plans (informal or formal) with the teacher, share those with your child as well.

    You, your child, and his or her teacher(s) each play an important role in your child’s success in and enjoyment of school. Bringing your child into the conversation both before and after parent teacher conferences will keep him or her engaged in his or her education.

    If this post was helpful, consider signing up for Missouri Parent email updates, delivered directly to your inbox. Signing up is easy; all we need is your email address and zip code, entered at the top of this page.

  • Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

    No matter what grade your child is in this year, you’ll probably find yourself attending parent teacher conferences. Whether you’re a first timer or an old pro, we think the tips that follow will help you make the most of the time you spend with your child’s teacher(s) this year.

    The Basics: As with any other appointment or meeting, you’ll make the best impression when you arrive prepared and on time (or early!).

    Be open-minded: your child’s teacher sees a different side of your child at school than you do at home, and he or she may have feedback that surprises you.

    Have a good attitude. Remember that parent teacher conferences are a constructive opportunity, and that may mean that you receive unexpected or negative feedback on your child’s behavior or grades. Listen to what the teacher has to share, and then focus together on formal or informal improvement plans.

    Do Your Homework: Your son or daughter’s teacher will invest time and energy into planning his or her conference with you, and we encourage you to do the same.

    Scholastic recommends compiling a folder — beginning on the first day of the academic year or semester — of your child’s grades, informal reviews, larger project or homework scores, and any other notes or feedback you’ve received from the school.

    The national Parent Teacher Association also recommends making a list of questions, concerns, and subjects for discussion. Thing to consider include school-based topics like grades, but can also include behavioral, social or personal topics that are relevant to your child’s performance.

    Does your child have a special talent, hobby, or extra-curricular activity that might affect his or her motivations, energy levels, or focus at school? Maybe your son competes on the weekends in martial arts tournaments or your daughter spends hours at night writing computer code. If your child has special talents, interests, or hobbies, consider sharing them with his or her teacher.

    Finally, family dynamics and life changes (divorce, death of a family member or beloved pet, etc.) can affect a child’s school experience, and most teachers would like to know if those circumstances are part of the bigger picture of your child’s mental and physical health and well being.

    Ongoing Communication: Don’t be shy! Ask your child’s teacher what his or her preferred communication style is and how the two of you can stay in touch moving forward. From periodic phone calls or emails to formal improvement plans, you can have a truly positive impact on your child’s education.

    Extra Credit: For extra credit, drop your son or daughter’s teacher a thank you note after your conference.

  • Would You Like to Be More Involved in Your Student’s School? Here’s How!

    Did you know that your involvement in your child’s education is one of the biggest influencers of his or her academic success?

    “When parents are involved in school, students of all backgrounds and income levels do better. When their parents are involved, kids are more likely to earn higher grades and score better on standardized tests; they attend school more regularly, have improved social skills, and are better behaved in school; and they are more likely to continue their education past high school.” - “A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement” by Anne T. Henderson and Karen Mapp

    There are many ways that you can get involved in your child’s education, including volunteering, getting to know your child’s teacher(s), leveraging your own career or professional experiences, and making sure that you’re covering the basics.

    Back to Basics:
    - Attend school open house events;
    - Attend parent-teacher conferences;
    - Know the names of your child’s teacher(s) and principal(s);
    - Join the PTA or PTO;
    - Attend your child’s performances, games, or other events;
    - If your child has friends whose parents can’t be at events, offer to help those families with rides to and from practice, events, and other activities;
    - Meet your child’s friends and their parents;
    - Read to or with your child;
    - Establish routines for studying and homework; or
    - Ask your child how school went every day!

    Ways to Volunteer:
    - Volunteer in the classroom;
    - Read to kids in the school library;
    - Help out in the lunchroom;
    - Volunteer in the school office;
    - Sit on school committees;
    - Help with school fundraisers;
    - Tutor students;
    - Chaperone field trips, dances, or events;
    - Lead a PTA or PTO committee; or
    - Help out in the school computer lab.

    Offer Your Experiences or Special Skills
    - Speak to a classroom of students about what your career is like and what kind of education or training you needed for your field;
    - Help build sets or sew costumes for school programs or theater productions; or
    - Use foreign language skills by volunteering as a translator or cultural liaison between your child’s school and parents whose first language isn’t English.

    Reach Out to Your Child’s Teacher(s)
    - Proactively introduce yourself to your child’s teacher(s);
    - If your child’s classroom has a website, read it regularly, and interact (comment, etc.) if that’s allowed; and
    - Find out from the teacher if there are any classroom supplies that he or she could use, and work with other parents to help acquire them. (Remember that many teachers pay for classroom supplies and decorations out of pocket.)

    What have you done to stay involved in your child’s education? We’d love to hear your experiences, advice, or suggestions to other parents! Leave a comment, below.

    What to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in Missouri’s public schools? “Like” Missouri Parent on Facebook or subscribe to email updates from the MOParent Blog. Just enter your email address and zip code at the top of this page.

  • Missouri Public Schools are Good for Your Family

    Today on the MOParent Blog, we’ll talk about how enrolling your child in Missouri’s public schools is good for the state of Missouri’s schools — and why Missouri public schools are good for your family.

    Invest in Solutions
    The best way to help strengthen Missouri’s public schools is to be a part of the solution. Missouri’s teachers and administrators are engaged in a constant state of advocacy for the funds and other resources they need to provide the best education possible for your child.

    When your child attends Missouri public school, his or her attendance guarantees federal and state funding for public education. And as a public school parent, you have unique opportunities to invest in — and advocate for — your child’s public school education.

    Advocate for Your Child
    When you play an active role in your child’s education, you become an advocate for your child — and for other children in your community.

    Missouri’s public school parents are empowered to stand up for the things that matter the most to their families: high-quality teachers, a safe learning environment, saving for college education, and preparing your child for college and career.

    There are many ways to become more active in your child’s public education, many of which are easy to get involved with. Don’t be shy about approaching your child’s teacher, principal or coach to volunteer your time.

     Your child’s school will be grateful for your time and support.

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