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MU Pigskin Preschool Makes Game Day Fun for All Ages

After 30 years, still one of few such programs offered

Aug. 29, 2007

Story Contact:  Jennifer Faddis, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Football season brings thoughts of grilled brats and tailgating, fans cheering for the home team at kick-off, and children whining about being bored. Well, those might be the thoughts of some football fans with children, who want to root for their team but don't know how attending games is possible with the kids in tow. That's why the University of Missouri-Columbia offers Pigskin Preschool, so everyone can enjoy game day.

“We started this game day drop-in childcare program in 1977 as one of the first such services in the country and even now there are still only a handful available,” said Larry Ganong, co-chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) in the College of Human Environmental Sciences and a professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing.

The children are supervised by groups of undergraduate students who participate to fulfill class requirements for their HDFS drop-in daycare course. Graduate students in the College of Human Environmental Sciences also volunteer to provide care; instructors with the Child Development Lab, located on campus, oversee all activities.

“It gives students the experience of working with children they may see only once or twice. They have to learn extra strategies to handle drop-in daycare situations,” said Karen Kelley, Child Development Lab instructor. “We are fortunate to have great nationally recognized child-care facilities on campus that we can use. We have rooms for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children as well as outdoor play areas.”

“Even parents from rival teams utilize our service, especially the Nebraska fans. We treat them just as well as we treat the little Tiger fans!” Ganong joked. “The kids don't care as long as they have fun, play and get a snack.”

The service can cost $45 to $50 depending on the age of the child. Children are accepted from as young as six weeks old and up to age 10. Parents can drop off two hours before kick-off and pick up as late as two hours following the game. The money earned is put into a fund that provides scholarships for HDFS students and helps send graduate students to professional development conferences.

“It's definitely a win-win situation for everyone,” Ganong said. “It's even better if the Mizzou Tigers win the game!”

“We average anywhere from 30 to 45 children for each home game. How much our service is utilized is in direct correlation with how well the football team is performing each year!” Kelley said.