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Everything listed under: Learning Styles

  • What Should I Know About The Lexile® Framework for Reading?


    You’ve probably heard of Lexile® measures, but do you know why they matter? They’re not just another little trend in public education; they’re an important tool that parents and educators across the country can use to help kids improve reading skills.

    What is a Lexile® Measure?

    The Lexile® Framework is a standard that helps connect readers with texts. Students are assigned a numeric Lexile® measure that functions like a reading score. That number could be in the low 200s for new readers, or it could exceed 1600 for advanced readers. The higher the Lexile® measure, the more advanced the reader. The lower the score, the newer the reader.

    The same scores apply to texts. Books, articles, and websites get Lexile® measures based on the same scale that readers do, helping parents choose books and other reading materials that match their child’s reading comprehension. More than 100 million articles and websites and more than 150,000 books have been assigned a Lexile® measure.

    According to the Lexile® website, for instance, the first Harry Potter book was an 880 Lexile® book. Emerging readers with a 220 Lexile® measure probably not be able to read or understand Harry Potter, but readers with a Lexile® measure range of 780 to 910 can probably read and comprehend the book’s writing without frustration.

    Lexile® Measures Aren’t Based on Grade Level

    Once upon a time, a child’s reading level was based on how other students in the same grade level performed at the same time, on the same test. That meant that the same student’s score would be higher if the rest of the class performed below average.

    It also meant that a student could be identified as reading “below grade level” if he or she happened to be grouped with exceptional readers on test day. Basically, it meant that a child’s reading level was measured on a curve.

    By contrast, a child’s Lexile® measure isn’t based on how other kids in the same grade level did on that year’s test — it’s based on how well a child reads on a Lexile® scale that never changes. This takes pressure off of kids and parents, both, because it allows you to work on improving your child’s reading skills without comparing your child to other kids.

    Why Should I Care About Lexile® Measures?

    Lexile® measures are an international standard that puts the reader and the text on the same developmental scale. Students in more than 180 countries and in all 50 U.S. States use the Lexile® Measure Framework, making the system relatively ubiquitous in libraries, bookstores, and even magazines, news publications, and websites.

    Because the measure is so widespread, you can use it to help find reading materials that will keep your child challenged and happy learning to read. The days of guessing whether a book or news article is the right difficulty for your child are long gone. Now you just need to know your child’s — and the text’s — Lexile® measure, and you’re good to go.

    If you aren’t sure what your child’s Lexile® measure is, talk to his or her teacher or visit the Lexile® Framework for Reading website to learn more.

    Missouri Parent is here to educate you, Missouri’s public school parents, about legislation, funding, and policy issues that affect your child’s education. We’re also here to help provide information that will support you as you guide your child through his or her public school years in preparation for college or career.

    You can learn more about education in Missouri by bookmarking Missouri Parent News, and you can connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily education updates from around the state.

  • Free and Appropriate Public Education: What Does It Mean?


    There are hundreds, if not thousands, of acronyms floating around the education world. One of those acronyms is more important than others, though, especially for families whose children fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA. That acronym is FAPE, and it stands for Free and Appropriate Public Education.

    A free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is an education that is paid for by the public — not by individual families. It’s designed to meet the child’s unique needs as stated in his or her IEP. A FAPE is available as part of the normal public education system in each community. It also prepares the child for whatever is appropriate for them; the next level of education, job, and life as an adult.

    Every child in the state of Missouri who qualifies for IDEA also qualifies for FAPE. It doesn’t matter how small the child’s school or how limited the district’ resources, it’s still the school’s legal requirement to provide a free, adequate education to every child.

    FAPE doesn’t mean that students under IDEA get a better education that kids who don’t qualify for IDEA. It means that the law requires schools to provide an equal education to disabled students as it does to other students. Missouri public schools must prepare disabled students for college, employment, and adult living just like they prepares every other Missouri public school student.

    A common misperception about IDEA and FAPE is that a FAPE entitles disabled students to everything related to their education absolutely free. In reality, students who qualify under IDEA still have to pay for the same supplies, extracurricular costs, club memberships, and all of the other incidental educational expenses that every other child in public schools has to pay.

    Do you think you’ve got your mind wrapped around the concept of a free and adequate public education for Missouri’s disabled students? Take this quiz to test your knowledge.

    Learn more about K-12 public school education in Missouri by connecting with Missouri Parent on Facebook on Twitter, where we share daily updates on all things education. Be sure to bookmark Missouri Parent News — a single destination for news about schools and education issues across the state.

  • 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

  • The Missouri School for the Blind


    Missouri School for the Blind is a state-run residential school in St. Louis where legally blind students from birth to 21 years old have received a free, quality, public education since 1851.

    The mission of MSB is to provide individualized instruction, resources, and educational services ensuring that students with visual impairments achieve the academic, social, employment, and life skills empowering them to enjoy full productive lives.

    MSB achieves its mission through two primary programs areas. First, MSB has a residential K-12 school in St. Louis. Second, it offers outreach services throughout the state. MSB is a statewide resource for families and educators on blindness and/or deafblindness. (Source)

    MSB’s residential program provides students with an array of athletics and clubs, and the school is fully accredited by the North Central Association of Schools for the Blind (NCASB).

    Its outreach services support families, provide parent education, and publish listings of vision education and mobility service providers. Outreach also includes a media library and professional development opportunities.

    About Missouri State Schools

    MSB is one of three school systems in Missouri that is administered by the State Board of Education, rafter than by a local school district. Students attend MSB at no cost to their families or their local school districts.

    The other two systems are the Missouri School for the Deaf and the Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled.

    If you’d like to learn more about Missouri’s three state-administered school districts, we recommend the following posts:

    The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
    What are Missouri State Schools?
    Missouri School for the Deaf (MSD)
    The Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled (MSSD)

    To continue learning about Missouri public schools, bookmark Missouri Parent News. For daily updates, connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Missouri School for the Deaf


    The Missouri School for the Deaf is a state school for students with hearing disabilities. MSD, which is located in Fulton, offers a comprehensive K-12 education with accredited academics and vocational training, as well as a wide array of extracurricular activities, sports, and residential life activities.

    Although most of MSD’s students are residential, many families of deaf children relocate to Fulton so that their children can attend MSD as day students while living at home. Children can go home as often as they’d like; students who live nearby can go home each night, but students who live further away might only go home on the weekends.

    As a state school, MSD is free for students to attend; the state pays for room, board, tuition, laundry, books, and other education and residential services. A deaf student’s access to a quality education is never inhibited by his or her parents’ ability to pay for it.

    According to MSD’s website, MSD students graduate “prepared for the world of work and for post-secondary education opportunities.” MSD calls its graduates, “self-supporting men and women who live and work in all parts of the state and throughout the nation.”

    MSD doesn’t just educate students. The Resource Center on Deafness at MSD is the state’s “official source of programs, services, information, and resources supporting the educational needs of deaf and hard of hearing children.” (Source)

    The Resource Center helps deaf and hard of hearing children, their parents, and their schools from birth until high school graduation.

    The Missouri Legislature established the Missouri School for the Deaf in 1851. Located on an almost 90-acre campus in Fulton, Missouri, MSD is the oldest residential deaf school west of the Mississippi River.

    About Missouri State Schools

    MSD is one of three school systems in Missouri that is administered by the State Board of Education, rafter than by a local school district. The other two systems are the Missouri School for the Blind and the Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled.

    If you’d like to learn more about these three Missouri’s state-administered school districts, we recommend the following posts:

    The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
    What are Missouri State Schools?
    The Missouri School for the Blind (MSB)
    The Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled (MSSD)

    To continue learning about Missouri public schools, bookmark Missouri Parent News. For daily updates, connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)


    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, is America’s federal law governing special education. It requires public schools to provide disabled students with a free education that’s specially designed to meet their needs.

    To better understand IDEA, it helps to understand what kinds of disabilities qualify a student for IDEA support.

    According to IDEA, a child with a disability is a child who has:
    · an intellectual disability
    · a hearing impairment
    · a speech or language impairment
    · a visual impairment
    · a serious emotional disturbance
    · an orthopedic impairment
    · autism
    · a traumatic brain injury
    · other health impairment
    · a specific learning disability
    · deaf-blindness
    · multiple disabilities

    Before a student is qualified for IDEA, he or she must be evaluated according to §§300.304 through 300.3. If the evaluation reveals that the child needs special education, then her or she qualifies for IDEA as a disabled student. However, sometimes a student’s evaluation reveals that while he or she needs related services, the student is not disabled. Those students don’t fall under IDEA.

    IDEA supports individuals from birth through age 22, but at Missouri Parent, we’re most concerned with how IDEA impacts K-12 public education. According to the Center for Parent Information and Resources, IDEA helps schools understand standards of achievement for students with disabilities:

    “Our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), sets high standards for their achievement and guides how special help and services are made available in schools to address their individual needs.”

    IDEA standards are the minimum expectation of public school systems, though. States and districts can —and often do — exceed those expectations by offering exemplary educational services. In Missouri, students are integrated into their local school’s classrooms wherever possible. Students with sever disabilities can attend a Missouri state school. You can read more about state schools here.

    IDEA was passed in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act, and has been revised and reauthorized through the years. Its current iteration is known as IDEA 2004.

    If you’d like to learn more about Missouri’s educational programs for disabled students, we recommend these posts:

    Missouri School for the Deaf (MSD)
    What are Missouri State Schools?
    The Missouri School for the Blind (MSB)
    The Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled (MSSD)

    To continue learning about Missouri public schools, bookmark Missouri Parent News. For daily updates, connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

  • The Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled

    The Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled (MSSD) is one of Missouri’s three state operated school districts, serving children and youth from 5 to 21 years old who have severe disabilities.

    MSSD’s mission is to “ensure students learn authentic skills in a safe environment to be productive and integrated into their home, community, leisure and work.” (Source)

    To that end, MSSD’s curriculum aligns with Missouri’s state standards for English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, health/physical education, and fine arts. And teachers use an integrated, trans disciplinary approach in the classroom.

    MSSD teachers are fully certified, and usually have at least two aides in their classrooms. In most cases, the adult-to-student ratio is one-to-two. Teachers are also supported by specially trained occupational, physical, and speech therapists and registered nurses who either work for the school full time or travel between schools, depending on the school’s needs.

    A Student is referred to MSSD when his or her local school district isn’t able to support his or her specific educational needs. The student’s disabilities must fall into a range from severe to profound, as defined by Missouri’s IDEA classification system.

    Unlike resident students at the Missouri School for the Blind, most of MSSD’s students live at home. Because there are 75 MSSD schools across the state, most students can be bussed to and from school each day.

    Each of MSSD’s 75 schools falls into one of three regional Areas in Sedalia, St. Louis, and Springfield. At the Area level, those schools have the support of an Area director and an Area administrative office. MSSD’s main administrative office is located in Jefferson City.

    Like Missouri’s other state schools, MSSD receives federal and state funding. But even though “MSSD is supported by funds appropriated annually by the Missouri Legislature,” local school districts also provide support. The law requires them to contribute towards the cost of education for each child from their district attending an MSSD school. (Source)

    If you’d like to learn more about Missouri’s three state-administered school districts, we recommend the following posts:

    The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
    What are Missouri State Schools?
    Missouri School for the Deaf (MSD)
    The Missouri School for the Blind (MSB)

    To learn more about Missouri public schools, bookmark Missouri Parent News. For daily updates, connect with Missouri Parent 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.

  • Who Better to Evaluate our K-12 STEM Programs than American Scientists


    The Pew Research Center conducted a survey of scientists and the general population to help understand how science and public opinion intersect. Pew surveyed general American citizens and scientists affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Survey questions asked for their thoughts on everything from STEM education to climate change to the genetically modified foods.

    The results were fascinating, but the specific results that stood out the most to us were those that showed what American scientists think about American K-12 STEM education. Who better to evaluate STEM education than the very scientists who work in STEM fields today?

    STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM has made national news over the last few years because students who study in STEM-related degree programs during college are likely to earn more money in their careers. This income gap is sustained for STEM majors, regardless of whether they pursue work in a STEM-related field.

    Most American high school students don’t graduate high school ready to study university-level science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. This lack of preparation — and the resulting lack of qualified candidates for STEM-industry jobs — is referred to as the STEM Crisis.

    Pew’s research project didn’t set out to prove or disprove the existence of a crisis in STEM education, but the results of its survey could absolutely be used to advance advocacy for STEM education: Nearly half of American scientists believe that K-12 STEM education is “below average” compared to K-12 STEM education in other industrialized nations.

    What will it take for America’s public schools (and Missouri’s public schools) to take the lead in global STEM education? What will it take for us to send our high school seniors off to college, fully prepared to excel in college-level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classes? Missouri Parent doesn’t have all the answers, but we will continue to research and write about the importance of STEM education in Missouri public schools.

    Here are a few of the takeaways from the Pew study:

    · Only 16% of AAAS scientists rank American K-12 STEM education as above average or the best in the world.
    · Just 29% of the general public rank American K-12 STEM education as above average or the best in the world.
    · A whopping 46% of AAAS scientists believe that America’s K-12 STEM education programs are “below average”.
    · 29% of the general public believes that America’s K-12 STEM education programs are “below average”.
    · Scientists also believe that the general public’s limited scientific knowledge is a result of poor K-12 STEM education.

    You can read the Pew Research Center’s report (which is the source of all statistics used in this Missouri Parent post) here.

    More Missouri Parent Posts About STEM Education:
    What is the STEM Crisis?
    Girl Scout Embrace STEM
    A Missouri University Embracing STEM Education for Public Schools
    INFOGRAPHIC: The Facts About Women and STEM

    Missouri Parent is a free service for anyone in Missouri who has an interest in public education. Come back to the MOParent Blog, check MOParent News, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates and timely information about public education and the funding and legislative issues affecting it.

  • Public-Private Partnership in Joplin Helps High School Students Earn Associates Degrees


    What happens when government, business, public schools, and colleges collaborate? In Joplin and seven other cities in Missouri, the answer is that high school students can graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, too.

    Joplin’s Innovation Campus began in 2012 as a partnership between Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Southern State University, Crowder College and Joplin High School/Franklin Technology Center. The program enables qualifying students to enroll in associates-degree-focused dual credit courses. The partnering institutions help kids cover the cost of enrollment through grant funding.

    The idea behind Innovation Campuses is twofold. First, Innovation Campus programs help student reach their career goals more quickly. Second, Innovation Campus programs help them get further into their college degrees without incurring student debt.

    According to the Governor’s office, similar programs are being created in St. Joseph, Springfield, St. Louis, Jefferson City, St. Charles, Cape Girardeau, and Rolla. (Source)

    “This is exactly the type of strong public-private partnership we need to grow our economy and keep our state moving forward,” said Governor Jay Nixon of the St. Joseph campus partnership between Missouri Western, Metropolitan Community College, and the St. Joseph Metro Chamber of Commerce. That partnership began in 2012. (Source)

    Innovation campuses are helping to train students for careers, particularly for careers in high-demand fields like nursing and technology, though programs are available in a variety of fields of study. Partnerships between schools and local businesses mean that those businesses commit to “creating or retraining a specific number of jobs”. (Source)

    Continue to learn about the initiatives underway in the state of Missouri to prepare students for college and career by bookmarking the Missouri Parent Blog and following Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

    About Missouri Innovation Campuses & SB 381
    Missouri’s Innovation Campuses were created under Missouri Senate Bill 381, sponsored by Senator Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit. The bill states that Innovation Campuses are: “a partnership comprised of one or more Missouri public community colleges or Linn State Technical College; one or more Missouri public or private four-year institutions of higher education; one or more Missouri high schools or K-12 education districts; and at least one Missouri-based business.”

  • 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.


  • Students, Education, & Entrepreneurs Can Win At Startup Weekend


    This January, a unique chance to rethink education comes to Kansas, City, Missouri. The event, called Startup Weekend, offers participants a unique set of opportunities to launch and scale endeavors centered on improving education outcomes. (source)

    From January 23rd through January 25th, 2015, passionate educators, students, entrepreneurs, developers, and designers will come together on a mission to create the best learning opportunities for others.

    “Startup Weekend Education is a 54-hour experiential learning event designed to be a catalyst for education entrepreneurship, empowering people to think differently and to create better solutions to education’s biggest problems.” (source)

    Startup Weekend events have also been held in Columbia, Springfield, and St. Louis.

    Kansas City also hosts a non-education focused Startup Weekend in November, 2014

    Entrepreneurship in education can be seen in two lights. In one light, entrepreneurial skills are a valuable career lesson for students to learn in the classroom. In the other, entrepreneurial thought processes could help advance the state of American public schools.

    George Deeb, Managing Partner at Red Rocket Ventures told that students with entrepreneurial mindsets are more resilient to tough economic and job market conditions.

    “I believe that the most important skills sets, are ones that promote business, technology and entrepreneurship. Two reasons: (i) those skill sets are always in demand; and (ii) kids can create a company or job of their own, if they can’t find one elsewhere.” (source)

    The Hawken School (K-12) in Cleveland, Ohio, endeavored in 2013 to advance its students’ education by infusing entrepreneurship directly into its coursework. The school developed a “course where students would learn by working on actual problems in the real world instead of sitting in a lecture hall.” (source)

    Its experiment worked: the director of the program received calls and emails from teachers all over America, asking her to hold an educators entrepreneurship workshop, and 30 teachers from 19 schools participated in the first two-and-a-half-day event.

    Here in Missouri, local students are participating in similar courses. Students in Parkway Schools can “exchange ideas with business mentors” at the Spark! Incubator in Chesterfield Mall. (Watch KMOV’s story) The program is highly selective, accepting only 15 students total from Parkway North, Parkway South, Parkway West, Parkway Central, and Fern Ridge.

    The goal of the Spark! Program is to “help student entrepreneurs develop the skills necessary to move an idea from light bulb to launch.” More than 70 local business people and entrepreneurs have collaborated with the Parkway District on the nontraditional class. (source)

    In Deebs’ story on, he says that students need “skill sets that are mapped in relation to what the overall workforce demands today.” He goes on to assert that “the sooner our kids come out of school with employable skill sets, the better their lives and the overall U.S. economy will be…” (source)

    If the idea of changing your child’s career prospects or advancing the American economy through entrepreneurship appeals to you, then visit the Kansas City Education Entrepreneurship Startup Weekend website to learn more about how you can turn your energy and your ideas into a tangible model for Missouri students.


  • MoVIP Program Fills Gaps for Students in Unaccredited Schools


    The Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MoVIP) offers approximately 250 virtual online classes for K-12 students across Missouri. The program’s mission is “to offer Missouri students equal access to a wide range of high quality courses, flexibility in scheduling, and interactive online learning that is neither time nor place dependent.”

    A Free Opportunity for Certain Students
    The program can help fill the gap between those students in schools whose accreditation has been suspended and their peers in fully accredited schools. That’s because the state requires provisionally accredited or unaccredited schools to pay for its students to take MoVIP courses; Students in unaccredited schools can take online courses through MoVIP absolutely free.

    Free doesn’t mean low-quality.MoVIP works with a variety of leading courseware providers, and all courses are taught by Missouri-certified teachers. The courses are an excellent opportunity for all Missouri students, and are an especially powerful tool for students in unaccredited schools.

    The Importance of the Foundation Formula
    When unaccredited or provisionally accredited schools or districts pay for their students to take MoVIP courses online, they can be reimbursed by the State of Missouri through the Missouri Foundation Formula.

    The Missouri Foundation Formula is a law passed in 2005 to help ensure that all of Missouri’s elementary and secondary school students—not just those in high-tax-revenue suburban areas—have access to adequate educational resources.

    Learn more about the Missouri Foundation Formula

    Spending Tax Dollars on Education, Not Transportation
    Statewide, conversations about accreditation and school transfer are highly controversial. The stakes are high, for students and for taxpayers; students should have access to a high quality education, and the Foundation Formula is already underfunded.

    The MoVIP program is a solution that doesn’t require students to spend countless hours (or taxpayers to spend thousands of dollars) on transportation to better schools nearby. And the courses, which are available to students anywhere there is a high-speed internet connection, range from Kindergarten social studies to Advanced Placement (AP) Macroeconomics.

    More than 250 courses are offered, including:

    · Core subjects for elementary and secondary students
    · 40+ Advanced Placement (AP) courses for high school students
    · Foreign Language courses like Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, and Latin for elementary, middle, and high school students
    · Dozens of language arts courses for middle and high school students
    · Art, music and photography courses
    · 60+ middle and high school math courses
    · Finance, accounting, and business courses
    · Dozens of opportunities in STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) subject areas.

    More About Online Education for Missouri K-12 Students
    MoVIP courses are available to all K-12 students in Missouri, including public schools, private school, and homeschool students. To learn more about the program, its courses, and how to enroll in courses, visit MoVIP’s website.

    MoVIP is currently registering students for the Fall 2014 semester. Course have a variety of start dates ranging from September 24th through November 19th, and students must register for courses 7 calendar days prior to the course’s start date.

    Continue to learn about educational resources available to K-12 students in Missouri by Liking MOParent on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and coming back regularly to the Missouri Parent Blog.


  • Math: The Most Important Subject in School?

    If you ask Americans what the most important subject was that they studied in school, they’re most likely to answer “math”. While that may be the most popular answer, the value Americans place on math varies based on both gender and education.

    Men vs. Women
    When men and women are asked what subject was “the most valuable subject studied in school”, they answer differently. Men are most likely to say that math was their most valuable subject, while women will answer that English/Literature/Reading was the most valuable.

    Men and women disagree on other subjects, as well. Science (including biology and physics) took second place and English (including literature and reading) took third place among men. Women, however, ranked math second and science third.

    This, of course, begs the question: Why is math more valuable to men than to women? Is it because more men pursue careers that utilize mathematics? Or maybe men are intuitively more inclined to value a quantitative subject more highly than a qualitative one?

    High School, College, or More
    A fascinating result of the study, which was conducted in 2013 by Gallup, is that as educational attainment increases, poll takers said math was less valuable and English was more valuable.

    For example: Of survey respondents who had a high school education (or less), 43% said math was their most valuable subject. The percentage respondents who had gone on to earn post-graduate degrees and who felt that math was their most valuable subject dropped to 19%.

    The reverse is true for English: Only 19% of respondents who held high school diplomas or less valued English as their most valuable subject in school while 25% of respondents with post-graduate degrees said that English was their most valuable subject.

    What do you think? Is math the most important you learned in school or that your kids are learning right now? Leave a comment – we’d love to know what you think!

    evaluating our education
  • The Khan Academy: Reimagining Education

    Sal Khan was working for a hedge fund when he found out that his 12-year-old cousin Nadia was struggling in math. They didn’t live in the same city, but that didn’t stop Khan from tutoring Nadia: Each day the two of them would use the phone and internet to work together on math problems. Soon, Nadia was excelling and Khan found himself tutoring dozens of his young cousins and their friends.

    Fast forward eight years, and the Khan Academy has become a household name in education. Sal Khan has been recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World”, he’s been featured on 60 Minutes, and he’s been shown on the cover of Forbes Magazine. Most recently, he was awarded the 19th Annual Heinz Award by the Heinz Family Foundation.

    What separated Sal Khan from the other men and women in the world who help a younger family member with their school work? What was it that turned him from a hedge fund analyst to a household name in education and a math tutor to students around the world?

    Sal Khan reimagined education.

    The Khan Academy began with a seriously ambitious mission: to provide free, high-quality education to anyone, anywhere in the world. Khan’s ambition paid off — The Khan Academy now offers self-paced, guided learning experiences to more than 10 million unique visitors each month. The site has delivered more than 300 million exercises, and its users have completed more than 10 million exercises.

    Students of the Khan Academy can get and give peer feedback, and they can build online portfolios of their work. When a student begins using the Khan Academy, he or she takes an online evaluation similar to a placement test. The results are used to deliver mathematics exercises that meet the students where they are.

    And Khan Academy students aren’t all traditional students. In fact, only 10% of the site’s users engage with the site in a classroom setting, and Khan’s students have included thought leaders and industry leaders like Steve Jobs.

    What would happen if more men and women thought about education like Khan does? At the very minimum, more kids like Khan’s young cousin would get one-on-one help with school work from a loving family member or friend. And at maximum? There’s no limit to what we can do for students when adults get involved in learning and education is taken out of the box.

    How would you re-imagine education for your child? What would you do to help kids learn? How much time would you invest in a child’s tutoring? Imagine what a difference you can make.

    Sal Khan is founder of the Khan Academy. He is a former hedge fund analyst who holds three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard. He is married with two children and lives in Mountain View, California. The Khan Academy supports and has aligned its mathematics content with the Common Core State Standards

  • Celebrate the Arts in March

    March is Youth Art Month, an annual observance of the value of art and art education for children and a time to encourage public support for quality school art programs.

    In Missouri, Youth Art Month is celebrated with a student art exhibit in the Capitol Rotunda. Each participating art teacher is allowed to submit a limited number of student artworks for display, so if your child’s artwork has reached the Capitol, you and your child should be incredibly proud.

    Six state-level Youth Art Month awards are given each year. Those awards are: The Governor's Choice Award, The Governor's Mansion Award, a lower elementary division award, an upper elementary division award, a middle school award, and a high school award.

    Finally, each year, Youth Art Month includes a national Youth Art Month Flag competition. Sargent Art sponsors the winner of the flag award (along with their art teacher and a guest/parent) on a trip to New York City.

    Why Celebrate the Arts?

    The Arts Prepare Students for School, Work, and Life
    In a 21st Century global economy, the arts equip students with a creative, competitive edge. A comprehensive arts education fosters the creativity and innovation needed for a more competitive workforce.

    The Arts Strengthen the Learning Environment
    A study by the Arts Education Partnership found that schools with large populations of students in economic poverty can be transformed into vibrant hubs of learning when the arts are infused into their culture and curriculum.

    Additionally, studies have found that 8th graders from under-resourced environments who are highly involved in the arts have better grades, are less likely to drop out by 10th grade, have more positive attitudes about school, and are more likely to go on to college.

    The Arts Can Attract and Retain Teachers Who Love to Teach
    Having the arts in schools has been found to improve teacher morale, satisfaction, and attendance by fostering havens for creativity and innovation; places where students want to learn and teachers want to teach. The arts can help retain educators.


  • 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.

  • Why Arts Education Matters in a Visual Age

    In 2009, the National Art Education Association published a white paper explaining the importance of arts education for America’s “digital native” students. Now, in 2014, the information from the NAEA’s paper holds as true as ever.

    Why Visual Arts Education Matters:

    • Students in art classes learn a “remarkable array of mental habits not emphasized elsewhere in schools” (including observing, envisioning, innovating, and reflecting)
    • Observation — taught in art classes — is a skill needed by naturalists, climatologists, doctors, and other STEM field workers
    • Visual arts encourage using mental imagery to problem solve — a skill used by chemists and architects to create new models
    • Visual arts instruction teaches students to value diverse perspectives and cultures — something that’s increasingly important in a global society
    • Quality art instruction helps students see patterns, learn from their mistakes, and envision creative new solutions 
    • Visual arts education has been shown to motivate students who might otherwise be at risk of dropping out of school
    • Quality arts instruction teaches visual-spatial abilities, self-reflection, and experimentation — skills that are not well-addressed in other areas of school curriculums

    Today’s students live in a world that is largely defined by interaction with visual communications like advertising, mobile apps, video games, and photo sharing. The skills taught in quality arts classes help students think critically about the visual information they’re receiving nearly 24/7.

    Those critical thinking skills will help guide today’s students not just to consume information, but to design it. Quality arts education is a critical aspect of students’ K-12 education, guiding students not just to be consumers of visual information, but to be designers and creators of visual information in the future.

    To learn more about arts education in Missouri, visit the Missouri Art Education Association website.

    To read the full NEAE report, click here.

  • 3 Empowering Coding Camps for Girls

    Research shows that graduates of college degree programs in science, technology, engineering, and math-related (STEM) fields are likely to earn significantly more income than their peers do who graduate from non-STEM programs.

    Unfortunately, girls make up only 24% of the STEM-related workforce. In this post, we talked about how women could help fill an untapped pool of talent in computer coding in the United States, earning better incomes along the way.

    Today, we’ll share three fantastic summer opportunities that are a great fit for girls who are interested in computing-related STEM careers. The best part? Two of these camps — sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Microsoft — are completely free for your daughter to attend.

    Microsoft’s DigiGirlz High Tech Camp – St. Louis
    Microsoft holds a special girls-only high tech camp that works to dispel stereotypes of the high-tech industry. The camp, called DigiGirlz High Tech Camp, gives girls the opportunity to listen to executive speakers, participate in technology tours and demonstrations, network, and learn through hands-on workshops.

    The program was established in 2000, and this August 6th and 7th, St. Louis will be one of seven cities in the nation to host the camp. The camp is free of charge, and interested girls can register here.

    Girls Gather for Computer Science: 4 Week Camp
    At the Girls Gather for Computer Science Camp (G2CS), 7th and 8th grade girls are invited to take an imaginative approach to computer science. The day camp is offered atPacific University in Oregon, and it’s offered at absolutely no charge to families.

    G2CS is supported by the National Science Foundation, which covers the cost of public transportation to and from Pacific University, meals, field trips, and an overnight trip. Applications to G2CS are due February 13th, and can be found online.

    App Camp for Girls
    This inspiring camp for 12- to 14-year-old creative software developers was brand new in 2013, and its 2014 schedule is still in the works. The App Camp for Girls was held in Portland, Oregon in 2012, although the camp’s organizers hope to grow the camp outside of the Pacific Northwest in future summers.

    In each of the camp’s week-long, girls-only sessions, girls brainstorm, design, code, and pitch their own apps. Camp supporters include Etsy and MacUpdate.

    Was this post helpful? You might enjoy these posts, too:
    What is the STEM Crisis?
    A Missouri University Advancing STEM Education for Public Schools

  • A Missouri University Advancing STEM Education for Public Schools

    In previous posts, we have discussed the importance of STEM. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

    Students are arriving to college unprepared for college level STEM courses. And in an era defined by technological growth and innovation, students who succeed in STEM careers will drive the future — and earn more money than non-STEM workers — doing it.

    STEM education also struggles to recruit and retain qualified teachers to teach elementary and secondary school STEM classes. Qualified STEM teachers — who are often one of a very small number of STEM professionals in a school district — often feel isolated and under-stimulated, leaving education for STEM professions that offer a stronger sense of community.

    “In 2009, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future reported that nearly half of all new K-12 teachers leave the profession within their first five years. For science teachers…up to 40 percent leave the profession in the first three years, depending on the school district.” -source

    Washington University in St. Louis is working to change those trends by offering a masters degree program that’s designed for high school biology teachers.

    The masters program was created from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Math and Science Partnership Teacher Institute seed grant, and some of its original goals included reinvigorating teachers, expanding their knowledge, and reminding them how exciting modern biology can be.

    The program, run by the Institute for School Partnership (ISP), is working. One of its sustaining benefits is that teachers who complete the program leave with a network of colleagues who help them feel connected and supported in their careers as educators. That sense of community may help schools retain STEM teachers, and it’s already helping students whose teachers have completed Washington University’s masters degree program.

    Phyllis Balcerzak, PhD, is the associate director of ISP. She tracks the professional networks developed by teachers who complete the masters program, and she says that they remain intact for years after graduation. She has also tracked the classroom successes of teachers who’ve completed the degree. After teachers attend the masters program, their students’ test scores show concrete and steady improvement. (source)

    Professional development and peer networks for STEM teachers are key to keeping great teachers in the field. And keeping great teachers in the field is key to the success Missouri’s K-12 students will have in college level STEM classes and beyond.

    Do you enjoy reading about issues like the STEM crisis and how Missourians are helping to address them?

  • Bringing 21st-Century Learning Home to Your Student

    Do you ever feel like it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the technology your child is using in school and at home? recently released a free PDF download that might help you decode — and even help you bring home — 21st century technology learning.

    The 10-page PDF is written specifically for parents, and it includes three kinds of information:
    1) Online resources and projects sorted by grade level
    2) Tips for bringing 21st century skills home
    3) A list of additional, helpful resources

    Activities for Every Grade Level
    This section introduces three online games or resources for each stage in a child’s education; elementary school, middle school, and high school. Edutopia provides an overview of each game or resource, many of which are paired with suggestions about how parents can get involved.

    One example, for middle school students, is an online tool that allows students to collaborate with kids from other parts of the world to compare water consumption. Parents are encouraged to get involved by leveraging children’s interest in the environment to explore conservation in their own households.

    Ten Tips for Bringing 21st-Century Skills Home
    Edutopia’s ten tips include a broad range of interests, including arts & crafts, communications, conflict resolution, gaming, volunteering, and opportunities like summer camps and Scouts badges.

    Each suggestion includes a link to an online resource (a blog post, a website, a video, or an online community), making it easy to bridge your child’s existing interests with the 21st-century skills he or she will need in college and career.

    Finally, Edutopia offers a list or resources for parents and teachers to use as you work together to bring 21st-century skills into your child’s education. These resources will help your child learn responsible digital citizenship, parenting and educational tools for parents, and even a few good resources for schools hoping to advance technology learning.

    How To Get It
    Download A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning free from

    For More Tools & Information
    If posts like this one are helpful, we encourage you to subscribe today to Missouri Parent email updates. It’s easy to do; just scroll to the top of this page and enter your email address and zip code. We’ll take it from there. 

    Who is Edutopia?
    Edutopia is where The George Lucas Educational Foundation’s vision to highlight what works in education comes to life. Edutopia is dedicated to improving the K-12 learning process by documenting, disseminating, and advocating innovative, replicable, and evidence-based strategies that prepare students to thrive in their future education, careers, and adult lives.

  • Google Play for Education

    It’s no secret that Google is a powerhouse in technology, but did you know that Google is taking serious steps towards improving educational technology in the classroom?

    Google’s Play for Education — which will house apps and videos that are searchable by grade level, subject area, and other criteria — is one the company’s newest ventures, and it has the potential to be a great resource for parent at home and teachers in the classroom.

    The format of Google’s Play for Education isn’t that different from it’s general app store, Google Play, or than its competitor, the Apple App Store. Developers share their apps on the storefront, and consumers download them.

    The difference is that the apps and videos available on Play for Education, which will be entirely focused on K-12 education, will be vetted by educators and used in pilot programs before being made available for purchase.

    According to

    “Google's [Play for Education] submission process requires all applications marked as suitable for K-12 to first pass through a network of non-affiliated educators for evaluation before then being measured against the Play for Education store's requirements for classroom use. If selected, developer's applications will be made available to the many pilot programs currently underway across the country, with an eventual full-scale rollout when Play for Education officially launches sometime this fall.” (source)

    Google is now accepting submissions from developers who’d like to be part of the Play for Education storefront. The full site is slated to be available to teachers sometime later in 2013.

    “It’s education everywhere at all times, which is what a teacher’s dream is,” said one teacher from Hillsborough, New Jersey, about using Play for Education on tablets in her classroom.

    For school districts or classrooms interested in using Play for Education, Google plans to offer bulk purchasing discounts. Google has incorporated other school- and teacher-friendly perks to Play for Education as well, including bulk hardware purchasing and purchase order usage (rather than teachers using credit cards to purchase classroom apps).

  • Libraries Change Lives — Or Do They?

    Do you agree with the above graphic?

    The Declaration to the Right to Libraries is the cornerstone document of the American Library Association, and it says all of these things. The Declaration to the Right to Libraries hope to create sustained support for America’s libraries; academic, special, school, and public.

    One Missouri library recently made the news. Funding is limited in Boonville, Missouri, where the public library is too small and becoming too old to support its local community.

    The Declaration to the Right to Libraries is one way to help promote your local and school libraries. You can sign the declaration online, or you can check with your local library to find out whether there will be a signing ceremony in your town.

    We want to hear from you:

    When’s the last time you or your child used your library?

    Do you and your children still use the library for school work, or do you rely mostly on the Internet?

    Leave a comment today here or on Facebook, and sign up at the top of this page for MOParent email updates!

    We've signed the declaration. Have you?

  • 4 iPad Apps for Aspiring Astronauts

    Astronomy and astrophysics might be above the heads of the average parent, but you can still encourage your children to soak up knowledge about space. Here are four terrific iPad apps that will help you to explore the sky with your kids:

    Star Chart
    This free app is an educational augmented reality tool that helps you and your kids to understand the nighttime sky.

    Just point your device’s camera at the stars, and the app will tell you exactly what you’re seeing in the sky.

    Star Chart has been downloaded more than 7 million times on iTunes, and has an average customer rating of 4.5 stars. Developed by Feel Great Publishing Limited and available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

    The Planets app shows 2D and 3D views of constellations and planets in the sky. Apple customer reviews call the app “simple and intuitive”. Others call it a “great aid for teaching”, and say that it’s a “fantastic application for teaching the solar system to kids.”

    Planets has an average 5-star Apple customer rating, and has been downloaded more than 8 million times. The app – developed by Q Continuum — is free, and is compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

    Hubble Space Telescope Discoveries
    This highly interactive and free eBook features stunning Hubble telescope images and videos from Hubble’s 20+ years of space observations. Learn about — and see photos of — comets, planets, the death of stars, the birth of new solar systems, and more.

    The Hubble Space Telescope Discoveries interactive eBook has an average 5-star Apple customer rating, with outstanding customer comments. The eBook was published by the Space Telescope Science Institute with contributions from and

    We should also mention Edwin Hubble, for whom the Telescope is named, was born in Marshfield, MO. A miniature version of the telescope can be found at the Webster County Courthouse.

    In case you didn’t know (we certainly didn’t), exoplanets are planets that orbit stars outside of our solar system. As new exoplanets are discovered, this app will alert you and your kids!

    3D models allow you to explore the Milky Way’s known exoplanets, and an augmented reality feature like the one used in Star Chart (above) allows you to point your phone or iPad at the sky to find exoplanets.

    Exoplanet is free for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, and Apple customers give the app an average 5-star review.

    Have you found other interactive astronomy apps that you’ve used with your kids? Leave a comment, and share your recommendations with other Missouri parents!

    Do you enjoy posts like this one? Sign up today for Missouri Parent emails to receive updates directly to your inbox. And be sure to like Missouri Parent on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

  • Halloween Books for Children 7 & Under

    Get into the Halloween spirit with your younger kids by reading fun and silly Halloween stories together. Each of these books comes recommended by other parents, schools, and literary publications specifically for kids ages 7 and under.

    It’s no secret that reading with your kids is one of the best things you can do for their early education. Take time to read together with your son or daughter before Halloween is here.

    by Samantha Berger
    1-6 years

    “The most important learning to read period for any child is 2 through to 7 years old, a key part of this is developing verbal skills through hearing spoken language from birth (crucial brain pathway development occurs during the period 0 to 7 years).” –

    "Will the creature ever turn from "MEHHRRRR!" to merry? Youngsters will roar along with Crankenstein through this silly and sympathetic story of grumpy-grouchies." – the School Library Journal

    Who Will Haunt My House on Halloween?
    by Jerry Pallotta
    Pre-K-3rd grades

    Three Little Ghosties
    by Pippa Goodhart
    K-2nd grades

    “My kids loved the rhyming words in this book and the artwork is engaging. Of course, there's a "surprise" ending, sure to make kids unafraid of ghosties, witches and beasties.” – Parent Review,

    The Monsters’ Monster
    by Patrick McDonnell
    3-6 years

    "The story charms, but it is the overall thoughtful design that makes this a frightfully amazing book to read. Make time to share with young monsters everywhere." -Kirkus Reviews

    The Mosters’ Monster is a New York TimesBestseller, an Indiebound Bestseller, a National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Silver Winner, and a Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2012

    Ghost in the House
    by Ammi-Joan Paquette
    3-7 years

    “One child I read this to actually squealed and clapper her hands in anticipation at some of the page-turns — can you ask for a better endorsement than that?” – Biblio Links review

    Filbert the Good Little Fiend
    by Hiawyn Oram
    (a fiend who refuses to be bad)
    3-7 years

    Pop-Up Novelty Books

    I’m Looking for a Monster!
    by Timothy Young
    3-7 years

    Little Monsters
    by Jan Peinkowski
    3-7 years

    For regular updates on your child’s education, subscribe today to MOParent email updates at the top of this page.

    Do you have favorite Halloween books for younger kids? Leave a comment here, or share your book recommendations on ourFacebook Page. You can also follow MOParent on Twitter.

  • Spooky Science Projects for Halloween Part I

    Earlier this month, we posted five fun & easy fall science projects that you can do at home with your kids. Today we’re back with more ideas — this time for spooky science projects and experiments that are perfect for Halloween!

    Make Your Own Fake Blood

    This project is just gross enough to be fun! Make two different kinds of blood using basic kitchen materials. One blood type shows how blood works as it clots and heals the body. The other blood type isn’t quite as realistic, but it will look great for spooky Halloween effects. Both recipes can be found here

    Creepy Layers (Density!)
    This creepy layers tutorial guides you through an experiment in the mass of liquids and how their different densities result in colorful layers. Add small objects like plastic spiders, paper clips, or small, waterproof toys to the liquids to see where — or if — they float in the layers.

    Ghostly Glow-in-the-Dark Goo
    This project uses just five ingredients, and you probably already have four of them in your kitchen! Little fingers will love this gunky, gooey concoction, and with just a little bit of kid-friendly paint, it will even glow in the dark!

    Come back tomorrow for Spooky Science Projects for Halloween Part II to learn how to make a ghost move using magnets, how to make your own fog, and to get the recipe for a bewitching, bubbling brew!

    For more science fun at home, check out these Missouri Parent blog posts:

    Investigating Autumn With Your Kids Part I
    Investigating Autumn With Your Kids Part II
    Science, Math, and…Pumpkins? 

    If you like reading posts like this one, sign up today for Missouri Parent email updates! You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

  • Investigating Autumn with Your Students Part I

    Fall is a season of anticipation. Excitement hangs in the air as the temperatures cool off and the leaves blow down from the trees. Taking time to explore the change of seasons will make fall even more fun for your family.

    Science is all around us this time of year, from weather patterns to apple picking to the decomposition of leaves in the backyard. You don’t need to be a scientist to explore the science of autumn with your kids.

    Today and tomorrow we’ll share five easy science projects that you and your kids can do together at home.

    1. Leaf Hunting
    Take a walk through your neighborhood, a park, or your own backyard, collecting leaves together with your kids. Bring your collections home and compare the leaves you’ve gathered. How many types of leaves did you find? Can you identity the trees they came from?
    Variation for Younger Kids: Collect as many different colored leaves as you can. Talk about those colors and about how the leaves are the same or different (for example, how many blades are there on each leaf?)

    2. Sprout-Your-Own Indian Corn
    Place a cob of Indian Corn in a small dish (a rectangular baking dish works well) filled partway with water, and leave the dish in a sunny location.

    Write down your hypotheses about what will happen to the corn (Will the cob grown new corn? Will it float or sink? Will the corn mold?), and come back each day to see if your hypotheses held true.

    3. Apple Tasting
    Apples come in a variety of colors and flavors, and their peak season is the fall! Purchase or pick several types of apples, comparing how they look and feel with how they might taste. Slice each apple into pieces and taste the together. Talk about their textures (crunchy, mushy), flavors (sweet, tart) and colors.

    Questions for Kids: Where do you feel sweetness on your tongue and where do you feel sour flavors? Do red apples all taste the same? What about green apples? Why do you think this is?

    Come back tomorrow for two more easy fall science experiments; “Dew Into Frost” and “Fall Decomposition”.

    For more tips and tricks that making learning fun for kids, like Missouri Parent on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or sign up for MOParent email updates at the top of this page!

  • Science, Math, and…Pumpkins?

    Pumpkins aren’t just great for Jack-O-Lanterns, they’re learning tools, too. This fall, spend a little time exploring pumpkins together with your kids — You might be surprised at how many ways you can apply math and science to this favorite fall fruit!

    Exploring Pumpkins
    Before carving this year’s Jack-O-Lanterns, measure your pumpkins together. Measurements can include weight, height, and circumference. Pumpkins are also great for lessons in buoyancy. You can even estimate and then count the number of seeds inside the pumpkin for practice counting high numbers.

    Pumpkin Buoyancy:
    Do you think your pumpkin will float if you place it in a bathtub filled with water? Do you think that it will float after you’ve carved it? Experiment by filling the bathtub or sink with water and placing the pumpkin in the water when it’s whole and again after it’s been carved. Was there any difference?

    This just seemed like a fun photo to share with you for this topic!

    Pumpkin Weight:
    How much does your pumpkin weight before carving? How much does it weigh after you’ve carved it? How did the pumpkin’s weight change?

    Pumpkin Measurements:
    How tall is your pumpkin at its tallest point? How tall is your pumpkin if you don’t count the stem? What is your pumpkin’s circumference? Will those measurements change when you carve your pumpkin? Why or why not?

    Pumpkin Seeds:
    Do all pumpkins have seeds inside? How many seeds do you think your pumpkin will have inside of it? After cutting your pumpkin open (so that you can see the seeds) has your guess changed? How many seeds are really inside the pumpkin? Was your guess greater than or less than the number of seeds inside your pumpkin?

    For Bonus Points: Can you find 3 ways to use the seeds from your pumpkin? A hint: you can eat them!

    If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to explore our other fall science posts:

    Investigating Autumn With Your Kids Part I
    Investigating Autumn With Your Kids Part II
    Spooky Science Projects for Halloween

    For more tips on making the most of your child’s education, sign up today for Missouri Parent email updates, tweet with us, or like us on Facebook!

  • Investigating Autumn with Your Students Part II

    Today is Part II of a two-part blog post featuring five fun and easy science projects you can do at home with your kids this fall.

    Be sure to check out the first three experiments we shared yesterday, and if you enjoy posts like these, sign up today for Missouri Parent email updates at the top of this page!

    4. Dew Into Frost
    Each fall in Missouri, a day comes when the morning dew turns to morning frost. Each morning this fall, look up the outside temperature with your son or daughter. Speculate whether the grass will have dew or frost, and then look outside!

    Questions for Kids: Based on the temperature outside, so you think the grass will have dew or frost on it? Why do you think that? If the grass has frost on it, do you think we’ll need to wear jackets to school? What about if there was snow? What causes the dew to change to frost?

    This project from is an easy at-home experiment that teaches kids why frost forms.

    5. Fall Decomposition
    Choose three fall foods (corn, pumpkin, squash, apples) and place them in your backyard. Make a hypothesis about which food will decompose first, and about how long it will take each food to decompose completely. Observe the foods each day, documenting their decomposition in a science journal or with a camera.

    For Bonus Points: Include a fourth food item that’s man-made (a granola bar, a fast food hamburger a pre-packaged cake or other treat) and compare the rate of its decomposition with the rate of decomposition of the corn, pumpkin, etc. Which decomposes first? Why do you think that is? Talk about how the ingredients in man-made foods might slow down decomposition compared to foods that are entirely natural.

    For more tips and tricks that making learning fun for kids, like Missouri Parent on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or sign up for MOParent email updates at the top of this page!

  • What is Your Son or Daughter’s Learning Style?

    Children learn in different ways, and you can help your child succeed in school this year by exploring how he or she learns best.

    When you know what that learning style is, you’ll be able to better-help your child to develop effective study habits that will go with him or her from K-12 and beyond.

    Social Vs. Independent Learners
    Some children learn best when they have a peer, a teacher, a tutor, or a parent working alongside them, while other children learn best when they study quietly or privately.

    If your child is a social learner, he or she may enjoy talking with you about what he or she is learning. Your son or daughter might also enjoy sharing ideas (“light bulb moments”) with you. Independent learners, by contrast, may enjoy spending time alone, and may not need outside help to stay focused on the task at hand.

    If your son or daughter is a social learner, study groups, tutors, and one-on-one time with you will make studying more efficient and enjoyable for him or her. On the other hand, if your child is an independent learner, he or she might need a quieter, more private study environment.

    Visual, Aural, Verbal, Physical, and Logical Learners
    Have you noticed that your child learns better with images than with spoken words, or that your child learns better when information is read aloud to him or her than when he or she reads the same passage silently?

    It’s perfectly normal for your child to learn better in some ways than in others, and there’s no “right” or “wrong learning style. We’ll spend the next few days helping you understand five learning styles and how to leverage them to help your child in school.

    If you want to receive more tips on helping your child succeed in school this year, subscribe to MOParent email updates! We’ll send helpful tips, policy updates, and more directly to your inbox.

  • Knowing Your Child’s Learning Style Can Make Your Child Successful in School

    It’s a new school year, and you’re dedicated to making sure your child does well. No matter what grade your child is in this year, understanding how he or she learns is critical to helping him or her succeed academically.

    We have talked about social and independent learners before and today we’ll explore the idea that some children learn better visually while others learn better aurally; that some might study best verbally, while others might have the most success when they can touch or feel the things they’re learning.

    With a little bit of help from MOParent, you’ll be able to identify which learning style best suits your child.

    Visual Learners
    Does your child learn well when images are involved? Is he or she great at putting puzzles together, folding notes to friends in complex ways, or seeing a 2D diagram and easily understanding what the item would look like in 3D? Then he or she might be a visual learner.

    Aural (or Auditory) Learners
    Does your child learn musical instruments easily? Does he or she use melodies or rhythms to memorize facts before tests? Does your child seem to remember information better when it’s read aloud to him or her? Your child might be an aural – or auditory – learner.

    Verbal Learners
    Does your son or daughter learn well using mnemonics? Does he or she enjoy reading and writing new information? Does reading text aloud (especially dramatically) help your child remember information? You might have a verbal learner in your family.

    Physical (or Kinesthetic) Learners
    Does your child love to participate in physical activities like sports, gardening, building model airplanes, or doing hands-on science or craft projects? Does he or she remember things that he or she has done more easily than the things that he or she has read or heard? Your son or daughter might be a physical – or kinesthetic - learner.

    Logical (or Analytical) Learners
    Does your child look at seemingly random information and see patterns or trends? Does he or she tend to think linearly through problems? Does he or she enjoy strategy games? Does he or she notice it when you say something that isn’t logical? Your child may be a logical – or analytical - learner.

    I Think I Know My Child’s Learning Style, Now What Do I Do?
    Now that you have a better idea what your child’s learning style is, you’re probably wondering what those learning styles mean for your child.

    How can you best help your child prepare for tests? How can you help him or her develop good study habits that will carry over into the high school and college years?

    If you’re looking for more helpful information on studying with your child, helping him or her in school, and understanding what’s happening in Missouri’s public schools, subscribe to MOParent email updates today!

  • Tips and Tricks to Help Kids of Every Learning Style Part 2

    Over the last several days, we’ve explored learning styles, and how you can help your child succeed in school leveraging his or her unique learning style. Today, we’ll wrap up this series with tips and tricks for verbal, physical, and logical learners.

    Verbal Learners
    · Verbal learners may find note-taking to be distracting. Don’t assume that if your verbal learner takes few (or no) notes in class, that he or she isn’t paying attention.
    · Reading and writing will help your child to retain information.
    · Encourage your child to read information and then repeat what he or she learned back to you verbally.
    · Word games and reading supplementary materials are both great tools for the verbal learner.

    Physical (or Kinesthetic) Learners
    · Whenever possible, make learning hands-on for your physical learner.
    · Help your child visualize the way it may have felt to be in a particular situation (in a battlefield during the Civil War, for instance) when studying history or reading stories.
    · Flashcards are helpful for physical learners because they can be touched and felt.
    · Understand that your physical learner may learn better while standing or even pacing, rather than while sitting still at a desk or table. He or she may also need more frequent short breaks than children who aren’t physical learners.

    Logical (or Analytical) Learners
    · Create a structured learning environment for your logical learner: Reduce distractions by studying in the same place and at the same time each evening, and keep supplies handy and organized.
    · Focus on one task at a time. Changing between subjects or stopping mid-stream for an unrelated task (to complete a chore or eat dinner with your family) may be frustrating or distracting for logical learners.
    · Help your child understand why things happen or why information is meaningful. Don’t expect him or her to learn by rote.

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  • Tips and Tricks to Help Kids of Every Learning Style Part 1

    Understanding your child’s learning style — and helping him or her to develop style-appropriate study skills — is key to success this school year and beyond.

    Yesterday, we talked about five different learning styles. Today, we’ll explore tips and tricks for students who learn visually and aurally. We’ll share similar tips and tricks for the remaining learning styles tomorrow.

    If these tips are helpful, sign up for MOParent email updates. We’ll send information about your child’s education directly to your inbox!

    Visual Learners
    · Use colored papers, markers, pencils, or pens to create flashcards or other study materials. Visual learners associate color, shape, and layout with information, making it easier for them to recall later.
    · Maps and diagrams help visual learners understand and remember information.
    · Visual learners will remember information better if they write it themselves (for example, on their own flashcards) than if a teacher or parent writes the information down for them.
    · Sometimes visual learners may struggle to remember verbal information. Teach your child that it’s okay to ask teachers or others to repeat verbal information.

    Aural Learners
    · When aural learners need to memorize information, it can be helpful to put that information into a rhythm, or even to sing the information to the melody of a well-known song.
    · Use rhymes or rhyming games to help your child learn and recall new information.
    · Read your child’s homework aloud to them. Your aural learner will remember more or of what he or she hears than what he or she reads.
    · Encourage your aural learner to verbalize things out loud as he or she studies at home. While this may be a distraction to other students in a classroom setting, that’s not the case when studying at home.

    Come back to the MOParent Blog tomorrow for tips and tricks designed especially for parents of verbal, physical, and logical learners.

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