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Everything listed under: Preparing Your Child

  • 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

  • Preparing Your Child for Middle School in Missouri


    The transition from elementary school to middle school is one of the most significant transitions of his or her years in Missouri’s public school classrooms. We know that you want to see your child succeed at every level of public school education. That’s why Missouri Parent is here today with a few tips on helping your son or daughter successfully make the middle school transition.

    Talk About It
    Most kids will feel a combination of excitement and nervousness when it’s time to start middle school. Take a little extra time to bond with your son or daughter during his or her last year of elementary school and into that first year of junior high.

    By building in a little extra time, you’re there to offer insights and encouragement — or just a listening ear — when your child has questions or needs to talk about his or her fears.

    Do you have a preschool child? Click here to learn more about preparing your child for kindergarten in Missouri.

    Go To Open House
    Nearly every middle school and junior high school in Missouri offers some sort of open house event for students and parents. The open house usually occurs before the school year begins. The open house is a great way not only to meet your child’s new teachers but to familiarize yourself and your child with the lay of the land in his or her new school.

    Take the time to walk from one classroom to the next with your child, in the order that his or her classes will take place. Find your son or daughter’s locker, figure out where the closest restrooms are, and make sure he or she knows where you (or the school bus) will do school drop-offs and pick-ups before and after school.

    Get Organized
    For many students, middle school is the first time they’ll move between classes each hour of the day. Make sure your child has more than one copy of his or her schedule handy. That way, your child has a little reinforcement until the new schedule is fully memorized.

    Work together with your son or daughter to organize notebooks, folders, or binders for the new school year. If your child has a place for his or her homework assignments and other classroom materials to go, it’ll minimize the risk of lost of forgotten assignments.

    Scholastic offers some helpful tips on organization for middle schoolers here.

    Cool Clothes & Dress Codes
    Tweens may be excited to express themselves in new ways at the start of middle school. The transition from elementary school to junior high can even present an opportunity for your child to reinvent himself or herself between school years.

    Before heading out to find your child’s new back to school look, however, be sure you’re familiar with the school’s dress code. You don’t want to spend money on clothes your child can’t wear, and sending your son or daughter to school in clothes the school doesn’t allow could cause embarrassment — or even expulsion!

    Depending on how old your child is the year that middle school begins, you might need to make an appointment for a few new immunizations. At between 11 and 12 years old, the State of Missouri recommends that children receive vaccinations for Meningococcal Conjugate (MCV), Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and Influenza.

    Read more about Missouri’s immunization recommendations for children from birth to 18 years old.

    Do you have tips for other Missouri parents whose students will start middle school this year? Leave a comment here, or chat with us on the Missouri Parent Facebook Page.

    Be sure to bookmark Missouri Parent News, and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates on parenting, funding, and education legislation in the State of Missouri

  • 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.

  • Child Development in the First Five Years Part 3: Proper Nutrition is Key

    This post is Part 3 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.

    Read the first post in the series here.

    Proper rest, good nutrition, and a safe and supportive home life each have a direct impact on a young child’s readiness for and success in school. Nourishment is critical for child development from birth to age five, and many state and federal organizations exist to ensure that all children have access to the nutritional resources they need.

    Good Nutrition in the First Five Years
    The first five years of life are crucial for a child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional development. Proper nourishment begins during pregnancy, and it continues throughout childhood.

    A child’s exact nutritional needs change over time, but because a child’s brain develops so rapidly in the first few years, it’s vital that children get enough protein and other nutrients. The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families says that:

    “Brain development is most sensitive to a baby's nutrition between mid-gestation and two years of age. Children who are malnourished--not just fussy eaters but truly deprived of adequate calories and protein in their diet--throughout this period do not adequately grow, either physically or mentally.”– (Source)

    Adequate physical and mental growth in the early years directly affects a child’s likelihood of success from kindergarten through high school graduation and beyond. The No Kid Hungry campaign says, “Poor early childhood nutrition can negatively impact a child’s physical and emotional development in both the short- and long-term and limit adult achievement and productivity.” (Source)

    It’s amazing that adult achievement is influenced by something as far removed as basic nourishment in infancy. The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, however, says that malnourished infants suffer long-lasting issues ranging from cognitive deficits to slower language and motor skills development. Malnourished infants often have lower IQs and poorer school performance than their well-nourished peers. (Source)

    Though a newborn’s needs are different from those of a four-year-old, access to nourishing foods is critical in the years when the brain is developing the most rapidly. Unfortunately, not all babies and young children have access to well-rounded, nourishing meals at home. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), children in approximately one in six households are at risk of going hungry.

    Kids raised in poverty are at a clear nutritional disadvantage that extends to kindergarten preparedness and success all through school. Thankfully, a number of state and federal resources exist to help level the playing field for young children whose caregivers struggle to put food healthy on the family table.

    Early Childhood Nutritional Resources Families in Need
    Childhood nutrition and brain development begin during pregnancy. One of the country’s leading resources for pregnant women and young children is the Women Infants and Children (WIC) Program.

    Pregnant women and new parents in Missouri can get breastfeeding support, free supplemental food, nutritional counseling, and health services through the Missouri WIC program. The Missouri Head Start program also helps by providing health and nutrition screenings for young children.

    Learn More: You can read more about early childhood health screenings in this post.

    Federal Home Visiting Programs, like those run by Parents as Teachers, provide high needs families and at-risk families with direct, at-home support and access to parent education. Outside the home, the Special Milk Program provides milk to kids at school and in childcare centers and camps.

    Do you know a baby, toddler or preschooler who might not be getting enough to eat at home? Please share this post with them or help put them in touch with one of the government organizations we’ve highlighted here.

    Proper nourishment from pregnancy through age five can help prepare at-risk children for success in kindergarten and beyond. If you know a family who’s having trouble providing nutritious meals to their young child or a pregnant mother who needs help affording healthy foods, reach out. You might be able to help connect them to the resources they need.

    Continue to learn more about early childhood education by bookmarking the Missouri Parent Blog. We’ll update you on legislation and funding issues affecting Missouri’s youngest learners, as well as those affecting Missouri K-12 public school students.

  • Child Development in the First Five Years


    This video, produced by The Ounce of Prevention Fund in Chicago, Illinois, is sobering and inspiring. It’s easy to forget that thousands of babies and young children are born into conditions each year that are detrimental to learning and emotional development.

    Proper rest, good nutrition, and a safe home life — all highlighted in this video — are things that many of us take for granted. For Missouri’s children born into poverty, however, those basic needs are not always met.

    The years from birth to kindergarten have a lasting impact on a child’s school readiness and his or her long-term stability and success. Kids who are raised in healthy, nurturing homes have a head start on those who are not.

    According to UNICEF:

    “Children who receive assistance in their early years achieve more success at school. As adults they have higher employment and earnings, better health, and lower levels of welfare dependence and crime rates than those who don’t have these early opportunities.” (Source)

    One of our goals at Missouri Parent is to provide information to public school parents like you that will help your child to be successful in school. In this case, the information we’ll share is designed to help parents make sure their younger children are prepared for school physically, emotionally, and intellectually when that first day of kindergarten comes along.

    We’ll explore the importance of sleep, nutrition, and a healthy home life on Missouri’s youngest learners: babies, toddlers, and preschoolers from birth to five years old. Along the way, we’ll share links to helpful resources for your family, and we’ll highlight policies and other state initiatives that can help prepare Missouri’s young children for success in kindergarten and beyond.

    Come back to read about the important of rest, and to discover resources available in Missouri that help families provide a safe place for young children to sleep at night, get nutritious meals, and give their kids a safe and supportive home life.

    Learn More About the Importance of Early Childhood Education:

    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

    Keep learning about resources that will help your child enter kindergarten prepared for success by bookmarking the Missouri Parent Blog, liking us on Facebook, or following us on Twitter.

  • Healthy Competition Teaches College and Career Readiness


    Last week we posted a story on emerging applications of entrepreneurship in education. This week, we’ll highlight a more traditional program—one that’s promoted entrepreneurship and business skills in Missouri’s schools for more than 65 years: DECA.

    DECA’s mission is to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management, and its competitions—which happen at the district and state level—give students a chance to practice those skills in an environment that’s just as competitive as the real world is.

    DECA’s Comprehensive Competitive Events Framework is focused on academic and community development, professionalism, and teamwork. Specifically, DECA trains Missouri’s students to be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible, and leadership savvy.

    Students can compete in DECA competitions individually or on small teams. Competitions cover a variety of areas, including advertising, entrepreneurship, merchandising, business development, business law and ethics, finance, and management.

    Competitive DECA events are designed to be appropriate for each instructional level, and to be a tool for teachers to use to improve teaching and learning. DECA competitions are tied directly to learning standards in schools, and in order to be a DECA member and competitor, students must be enrolled in relevant classroom coursework.

    Learn more about Missouri’s learning standards.

    Competitions are a way for students to earn advanced credit or to meet college admissions requirements. DECA students learn real-life business and entrepreneurship skills that prepare them—and inspire them—for college and career: More than 90 percent of DECA members plan to further their studies DECA-related subjects, or to become entrepreneurs, and 30 percent are very interested in starting their own businesses. (source)

    Missouri’s relationship with DECA is long-standing. It was one of the charter states of the National DECA program in 1948, and its membership has grown to more than 9,000 alumni today. (source) Internationally, DECA has more than 200,000 members. Missouri DECA is one of the many ways that business-minded high school students can pave the way for college and career.

    Learn more about DECA:
    DECA - college and career readiness
    DECA Competitions
    Missouri DECA
    Missouri DECA Scholarships

    Missouri Parent is a free service to all Missouri parents and others who have an interest in public education. One of our goals it to provide information to parents that will help their children be successful in school. Bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on your child’s public school education.


  • What Your Students Can Do in the Summer

    All public schools in Missouri take a summer break. The history of ‘schools out for summer’ is an interesting one and you can learn more about it here

    While out of the classroom, there are still plenty of learning opportunities available to prevent the ‘summer slide.’ Here are a few large and small occasions for your student:

    Plan a college visit
    Days off in summer are a perfect time for families to take their teens, and even middle school students, to a college campus to give their higher education dreams and goals a dose of reality.

    Give back to their community
    There are never a shortage of volunteer opportunities in any area of Missouri. From working with local non-profits to pitching in with their own schools, a volunteer position may be something that helps to impact the life of a student for decades to come.

    A summer job
    If it’s working in an office, an amusement park, or a farm, summer is a perfect time for older students to learn personal financial skills and to develop personal traits when dealing with the public and co-workers. A summer job will also give them new perspectives on what it takes to ‘bring home the bacon’ for their parents. These jobs will also help them to build their resumes for college and future employment applications. Check out resources like LinkedIn for opportunities for high school students.

    Keep on reading
    One of the most important actions a student can take to keep their learned skills sharp is to read. In fact, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has begun a program called ‘Read MOre, Missouri’ to encourage summer reading. Experts says that reading just six books during the break can prevent regression and students from having to catch up once the fall semester begins.

    Whatever you and your students do this summer, have fun, be safe, and take time for learning opportunities.

    Stay in touch with policy updates relating to Missouri public education and learning tips like this one by signing up for our periodic email newsletters and connect with us on social media.

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  • INFOGRAPHIC: The Facts About Women and STEM

  • Exploring College While in Middle School

    Here we are towards the end of May and your Facebook timeline, and maybe even your personal schedule, are filled with high school graduation activities. Many of those graduates will soon begin their higher education journeys.

    Some may have started those journeys while still in high school.

    A program, called College Immersion, is seeking to create those journeys with even younger students. The program focuses on connecting middle school students with college campuses by having them attend specially designed college classes for one week.

    The study began at the public Queens College in New York in 2007 and a second study took place at the private St. John’s in 2010. Both studies continue to this day.

    While a voluntary program, middle school students who have been invited to participate are considered ‘at-risk’ due to behavior, familial background, or recent immigration status. The study notes “that research on the critical nature of early adolescence, the need to build a solid academic foundation early, and the signs of dropping out that can be seen in middle school, create unique opportunities for partnerships between middle schools and universities.”

    While the first day or so on the college campus can be rough for the middle school students, finding show by the end of the week the students are excited about college and look to change their secondary education plans to include more preparation for higher learning.

    The study posits that even small exposures to life in college at a young age, a week or even a day, can impact a younger student's perception of college and their ability to continue their education post-high school graduation.

    If you have a graduating senior this year, when did you begin their exposure to college studies and college life? We urge you to leave your answers in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

    You can read the entire study here.

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  • 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.

  • Girl Scouts Embrace STEM

    The Girl Scouts of the USA are taking a proactive role in teaching girls STEM studies and encouraging them to pursue STEM careers. Studies conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute have shown that girls have a high interest in STEM careers, but that they need more exposure to those fields. The Girl Scouts are addressing that need through Leadership Journeys, Proficiency Badges, and strategic partnerships.

    Leadership Journeys help girls discover their special skills and talents, connect with others (forming strong teams and healthy relationships), and take action to make the world a better place. By going on Leadership Journeys Girl Scouts explore a variety of interests and learn what they’re most interest in and passionate about. The three series of Leadership Journeys that girls choose from are “It’s Your World – Change It!”, “It’s Your Planet – Love It!”, and “It’s Your Story – Tell It!”.

    Girl Scouts don’t stop with discovering interests and passions: Badges help girls learn about and develop proficiencies in specific topics. The Girl Scouts recently revamped badges to have a stronger focus on 21st-Century skills including STEM-related subject areas. Examples include badges called Naturalist, Digital Arts, Science and Technology, Innovation, and Financial Literacy.

    The Girl Scouts have also formed partnerships and sponsorships with STEM-related organizations like NASA, the New York Academy of Sciences, and Ingersoll Rand. Those relationships provide key funding and unique development opportunities for Girl Scouts who are interested in STEM-specific studies. “Imagine Engineering”, for example, is funded by the National Science Foundation and offers low-income girls and girls in underserved communities the chance to “experience STEM and plan for futures in STEM fields.” (source)

    The FIRST program is another great example. Co-sponsored by Motorola, UTC, Google, and Dell, the program “gives girls access to materials and mentors so that they can explore fields such as robotics and information technology in greater depth.” (source)

    To learn more about Girl Scouts’ research, visit the Girl Scout Research Institute online. For a quick overview of the organization’s research on girls and STEM studies, read this summary of the study, “Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math”.

  • Little Miss Geek

    London, England-based social enterprise Little Miss Geek wants to change the world. How does it plan to do that, exactly? It aims to inspire the next generation of young girls to work in technology and gaming.

    The Little Miss Geek movement started with a book by the same name written by Belinda Parmar and published in 2012.

    According to, Little Miss Geek (the book), “charts the rise of the Little Miss Geek as she fights her way from childhood, through school and into the heart of the technology industry. Along the way the book outlines practical steps that will bridge the gap between women and technology, and help inspire girls everywhere to be tech pioneers. Women will be part of the next technological revolution. Little Miss Geek has arrived.”

    The book is just the beginning of a movement that challenges the status quo of women in technology. According to the Little Miss Geek website:

    “Little Miss Geek is inspiring the next generation of young girls to change the world through technology. We will do for the tech industry what Jamie Oliver did for school dinners; to cause nationwide change from the ground up.”

    Little Miss Geek is working with teachers, tech industry leaders and policy makers to inspire girls to work in technology. Its impressive list of partners includes Dell, Nikon, Mozilla, Philips, WIRED, and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

    The organization’s programs include after school technology clubs and the “Her in Hero” campaign, which encourages schools to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day (Lovelace is recognized as the very first computer programmer).

    Perhaps the most admirable trait of the Little Miss Geek movement is its determination. Its website says that it, “…will not rest until 50% of the tech and games workforce is female…” (source).

    In the United States, only 18% of students graduating with computer science degrees are women, but the Department of Labor estimates 1.4 million new computer science jobs by 2020. Determination will be critical in helping to change the educational and professional climate for women and girls with interests in computer science and technology.

    To learn more about Little Miss Geek, visit its website or click here to learn more about American women in coding.

  • SPENT: Playing the Minimum Wage Game

    If you’re trying to help your child understand just how quickly one month’s pay can disappear, an online game called SPENT might be a good tool for you to know about. Created by McKinney and the Urban Ministries of Durham, SPENT challenges players to make ends meet for one month earning minimum wage.

    The game begins by presenting you, the player, with a believable scenario: You’ve become one of the 14 million Americans who are unemployed, and you’re running out of money fast. You need a job, and only three are available to you. In any one of those three jobs, you’ll earn a wage that’s roughly equal to minimum wage.

    Once you’ve chose a job, your bank account shows one full month of wages. SPENT presents you with either/or choices that will affect your bank balance. Examples include enrolling in employer-provided health insurance, choosing a place to live where rent is affordable but your commute isn’t too expensive, and deciding whether to send your child to a classmate’s birthday party (a gift will cost $10 – can you send your child to the party without one?).

    Your bank balance reflects your choices, and the game provides qualitative feedback on the choices you make. For example, if you choose a warehouse job that involves heavy lifting but pays well, the game will point out to you that the pay is good but the job will take its toll on your health.

    SPENT has the potential to be a powerful tool for parents of teenagers who don’t understand why they should have a plan for life and career after high school graduation. It could also be helpful for the parents among the 1.7 million Missourians who are earning an hourly wage: SPENT might be away to show your kids just how easily a month’s paycheck is spent.

    Note: Of the estimated 6 million people living in Missouri, approximately 3.7 million of them are between the ages of 18 and 65 (source). Nearly half of those working-aged residents earned an hourly wage, and approximately half of them earned less than the minimum wage (source).

  • What Does It Take To Prepare A Student for the Future?

    In October 2013, NBC’s Education Nation and the Teaching Channel presented the 4th Annual NBC News Education Nation Summit, which included an opening ceremony, a student town hall, a teacher town hall, a Common Core teacher institute, panels and master classes, and an innovation challenge which awarded $75,000 to a winning education start-up company.

    The overarching theme of the summit was “What It Takes” for America to ensure that students are prepared for college, career and beyond. Here’s what a few people had to say:

    “For student success, I believe it takes a passion: You have to decide who you want to be and how you want to get there. That’s the most important thing.” – Tom Brokaw

    “For student success, we need high, lofty expectations. We need parent engagement. We need to have teachers that do spectacular work being rewarded for their efforts. We need to embrace technology to ensure that every child learns.” – Jeb Bush (source)

    Missouri Parent wants to know: What do you think it takes to prepare Missouri’s K-12 students for college, career, and beyond? Do you think that early childhood education is critical? How about funding for Missouri’s public schools? Leave a comment on the Blog or on our Facebook Page today.

  • The Four Cs of Education


    The National Education Association asked a variety of leaders what 21st Century skills were most important for kids to gain during their K-12 education. The answers have become known as the “Four Cs”.

    The Four Cs Are:

    “Students are able to work effectively with diverse groups and exercise flexibility in making compromises to achieve common goals.”

    Collaboration Means:

    • Ability to work well within teams
    • Flexibility in achieving common goals
    • Assuming shared responsibility for collaborative work

    “Students are able to generate and improve on original ideas and also work creatively with others.”

    Creativity is:

    • Using creation techniques like brainstorming
    • Creating new and worthwhile ideas
    • Refining and improving on original ideas
    • Communicating new ideas effectively to others
    • Demonstrating originality and inventiveness
    • Viewing failure as an opportunity to learn

    “Students are able to communicate effectively across multiple media and for various purposes.”

    Communication can be defined as:
    • Being able to clearly articulate ideas orally, in writing and nonverbally
    • Listening effectively
    • Using media & technology effectively

    Critical Thinking
    “Students are able to analyze, evaluate, and understand complex systems and apply strategies to solve problems.”

    Developing critical thinking skills is:

    • Being able to reason effectively
    • Understanding “systems thinking” (how parts of a whole interact with one other)
    • Ability to make judgments and decisions
    • Ability to solve problems in both conventional and innovative ways

    Incorporating the “Four Cs” is a way for educators to help ensure that K-12 students are learning the 21st-Century skills that they’ll need — hand in hand with fundamental academic content knowledge in math, language arts, and science — to succeed in college and career.

    Download the NEA’s Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society: An Educator’s Guide to the “Four Cs”.

    Image via Getty.


  • Immunizations for Missouri Students at Every Age

    Missouri’s public schools want to keep your child safe and healthy from preschool through graduation and beyond. That’s why Missouri has built recommended immunization schedules based on the nation’s leading immunization, disease, pediatric and family medicine organizations.

    That’s also why Missouri offers the Vaccines for Children Program, which we’ll talk about later in this post.

    Immunizations from Birth to Six Years Old
    From birth to age six, your child will probably receive a number of important immunizations, many of which can be given in combination, reducing the number of individual trips you’ll need to make to your doctor’s office or county health office.

    Some of these immunizations include Hepatitis A & B; Polio; Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR); and Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTap). Your child will likely receive his or her Hepatitis B shot at birth, while the remaining immunizations are spread out over his or her early years of life.

    Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services’ Easy to Read Immunization Schedules

    Birth to 12 Years 

    7 to 18 Years

    Immunizations for Eleven and Twelve Year Olds
    Between the ages of eleven and twelve, it’s recommended that your child be protected against Meningococcal Conjugate (MCV), Human Papillomavirus with a TDap booster.

    Catch-Up Schedules & Booster Shots
    If you’ve fallen behind on your child’s vaccinations, don’t panic. Instead, contact your pediatrician, family doctor or county health office to review your child’s immunization records and build a catch-up schedule for remaining vaccinations.

    Some immunizations that your child is given at a young age will need a follow-up “booster” shot in your child’s preteen or teen years. Talk with your doctor or county health office to make sure your child is up to date on all recommended shots.

    Free Vaccines
    Are you concerned about the cost of your child’s vaccines or worried that your health insurance won’t cover immunizations? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers free vaccines for children who qualify. You can learn more about Missouri’s Vaccines for Children Program here

    Why Vaccinate?
    "Missouri's immunization program is working to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases by providing vaccines to children and adolescents who cannot pay for them through the Vaccines for Children Program; educating health care professionals, medical providers and the public on the importance of vaccinations; and ensuring that children who are in child care and school are adequately immunized against diseases that are harmful and sometimes deadly."
    Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services

  • Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten in Missouri

    As your child nears the age for kindergarten, you might not be sure exactly what you need to do to make sure that he/she is prepared for enrollment in Missouri Public Schools. Here are a few tips and resources to help get you started: 


    In order to enroll in kindergarten in Missouri, you son or daughter should be five years old before August 1st of the upcoming school year.  What this means is that if your child turns five in September or October, you can enroll him/her in kindergarten the following school year. 

    Both St. Louis and Kansas City School Districts may accept later birth dates, so be sure to check with your local school district to confirm your district’s birth date cutoff. 

    Kindergarten Transition Plan

    The No Child Left Behind Act requires that schools nationwide prepare transition plans to help students move from early childhood education into elementary school. Ask your school district for information about:

    1.      Helping your child transition into kindergarten;
    2.      What developmental stages are typical of pre-k and kindergarten-aged children; and
    3.     What to expect in terms of learning standards, behavioral expectations, and attendance requirements for kindergarteners. 

    Summer School

    Did you know that some public schools offer pre-kindergarten summer school for children? If you’d like your child to have a head start on adjusting to the kindergarten environment and learning experience, check with your local district to find out if summer school is an option for your son or daughter.


    When preparing your child for kindergarten, it’s important to understand Missouri’s School Immunization Requirements. It’s never too early to begin exploring Missouri’s immunization requirements, especially since some of them must be met on or after your son or daughter’s fourth birthday. 

    If your family has religious or medical reasons for not giving your child certain immunizations, the State of Missouri allow exceptions. For details, please contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services or your local school district.

    Records & Documentation

    It will be helpful, if not necessary, to have your child’s birth certificate, vaccination and immunization records, and your family’s proof of residence in your district (a utility bill, for example, or a driver’s license that lists your current home address) with you when you enroll your child for kindergarten. For a complete list of required documentation for kindergarten enrollment, please contact your local school district.

    For more helpful information about Missouri Public Schools, sign up for our mailing list.

    The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ School Immunization Requirements

3550 Amazonas Drive, Jefferson City, MO 65109. 573-638-4825