Nurture a Love of Nature and Health with These Resources

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has a website to help nurture your child’s interest in the environment, science, and health. The site, Kids Environment Kids Health, provides resources for parents, teachers, and kids to explore these topics.

Among the topics covered on the site are:

  • Environment & Health
  • Healthy Living
  • Pollution
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Science—How It Works
  • The Natural World

The games section of the website provides brainteasers, puzzles, songs, and riddles, while the activities section includes coloring pages, stories created by kids, and science experiments to do at home. For teachers, there are lessons plans on environmental health topics from kindergarten through high school. The site also provides a section aimed just at little kids, gathering all of the age-appropriate materials in one easy-to-find location.

28 Skills Students Need to Be Really Ready for Life After High School

A little over a year ago, Getting Smart partnered with Apex Learning to study what skills students need to truly be ready to face life after high school, whether in college, career, or just living as an independent adult. The resulting report identified 28 skills, which are summarized below.

  1. Critical Thinking
  2. Communication
  3. Growth Mindset
  4. Self-Directed
  5. Social & Emotional Skills
  6. Self-Awareness
  7. Relationship Skills
  8. Responsible Decision-Making
  9. Social-Awareness & Perspective-Taking
  10. Self-Management
  11. Problem-Solving
  12. Reflective
  13. Flexible & Adaptable
  14. Active Learner
  15. Nimble
  16. Resourceful
  17. Project & Task Management
  18. Articulate Strengths and Areas of Need
  19. Life Management
  20. Curious & Inquisitive
  21. Digital Citizens
  22. Innovative & Entrepreneurial
  23. Passionate & Positive
  24. Embrace Failure
  25. Analytical & Evaluative
  26. Grit & Perseverance
  27. Logic & Reasoning
  28. Cross-Cultural Communication

These skills are summarized and detailed in a helpful infographic that you can share.


What to Expect at Your Child’s Checkup

You might have obsessively read the What to Expect When You’re Expectingbook when your first child was on the way. Perhaps you’ve used PTA’s Parents’ Guides to Student Successto be informed about what your child will be learning each year and what questions you should ask your child’s teacher. As your child grows, having an idea of what’s coming up can make you a better parent.

One of the areas where parents may not be too sure what to expect is their child’s annual checkup. Kids’ Health has a series of guides in both Englishand Spanishabout what to expect at each checkup from birth to age 21. The guides provide information on:

  • What your doctor should be doing and asking about.
  • What to keep in mind until your child’s next checkup.
  • What your child should be learning to as they grow and mature.
  • What safety issues you should be aware of for that age.

Check out the guide for your child’s next checkup and bookmark the listso you have it handy next time your child is in the examining room. Share the guides for the older years with your teen or young adult to help take some of the fear out of their next visit.

Photo © 2015 by Greens MPsunder Creative Commons license.

Illinois Student Advisory Council Launches Student Voices Microsite with ISBE

The Student Advisory Council (SAC), which provides feedback and insights to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), launched a new Student Voices microsite at to create space for students statewide to ask and answer questions about preparing for their futures.

The microsite links to resources such as the Illinois Reality Check personal budgeting application, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s guide on paying for college, the Illinois PaCE: Postsecondary and Career Expectations framework, and ISBE’s resources for dealing with health topics such as bullying.

“The members of the State Board and I deeply appreciate the good work and leadership of the Student Advisory Council and the value their voices bring to the table,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “The thoughtfulness they have put into this project shows just a small fraction of their contributions to ISBE and to their school communities. This new microsite provides a critical vehicle for including student voices in the conversation about improving workforce development and career pathways.”

The microsite originated from the SAC’s yearlong project on college and career preparation that they presented to the State Board at last week’s board meeting. The SAC identified post-high school readiness as a common source of stress for themselves and their peers.

“There’s not a single student unaffected by the overwhelming state of our current transition process,” said Neha Arun, a junior at Carterville High School and member of the Student Advisory Council. “School counselors are stretched so thin that students are not getting the one-on-one guidance they need. We hope the Student Voices website can help fill a gap in delivering resources and create space for students to express their shared worries and questions.”

The microsite provides opportunities for any student to share information and experiences with each other through questions, answers, photos, and quotes.

“A school’s culture and socioeconomic status often determine the types of information students receive,” said Kathleen Rock, a senior at Byron High School and member of the Student Advisory Council. “Increasing the availability of information about diverse options and ways to prepare can help decrease inequity across Illinois. We want to improve students’ abilities to choose and prepare for their next step after high school, whether technical education, service in the Armed Forces, or college.”

The members of the Student Advisory Council are a diverse group of active students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and teamwork abilities. Applications for the 2018-19 Student Advisory Council are available at

View the full list of 2017-18 members, many of whom are available for comment, at