Head Start? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 06-21-2010, 11:07 PM - Thread Starter
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My DS1 is 3 and enrolled in headstart preschool for the fall, and I'm just curious what everyones general opinion of headstart programs is?
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#2 of 11 Old 06-22-2010, 11:28 AM
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I don't have personal experience. We had a friend whose eldest did headstart as was really happy with them.

Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 14.
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#3 of 11 Old 06-25-2010, 08:20 PM
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Head Start programs follow national Performance Standards (as mandated by Congress) but are all locally operated and operate in vastly different ways and can follow a variety of different curriculums. I'm a formers HS teacher, Education Coordinator, current and former HS (and EHS) parent and Policy Council Chairperson (commitee of parents and community members who work with the agency director to help shape and guide the program.) I absolutely LOVE the program where I used to work and the schools my children attended.

If you have any more questions (now or in the future,) please feel free to PM me. My soon-to-be adopted daughter starts preschool Head Start in the fall, too. She's just completing a year in Early Head Start (for children birth to age three.)
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#4 of 11 Old 06-30-2010, 11:53 PM
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Apparently, it is vastly different in different areas, as the pp said.
In my area, it's..pretty awful.

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#5 of 11 Old 07-01-2010, 03:19 AM
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My DS1 attended an integrated HS program for 2.5 years. I also worked as a classroom assistant in a preschool room in our district. (My room was specifically only children on IEP, which I think is now non-existent, they are all integrated like the one DS attended. But all the preschool classrooms in our district go by HS standards and curriculum.)

As a parent

DS's first classroom...I wasn't super-impressed. I didn't feel welcome to visit, they also didn't have as many parent activities that I saw in the half a year we were there. But I also would not say it was HORRIBLE....I would say I probably had high expectations after working in the classroom I was in for 2.5 years. (more on that in a min.)

DS's classroom after we moved----LOVED his teachers. He learned *so* much while he was there. I talked to her almost every time I dropped him off, she had time for me. (that's another thing his other teacher never seemed to have time to answer questions or anything like that) I felt like I could ask anything. This school had more field trips (partly because of location, they could walk more) and more parent activities. Over the course of his two years, I accompanied his class on at least 4 field trips, came to school for the fall party this year, 4 'programs' they did (winter and graduation both years). Every time I went on a field trip, and for the programs, they let me and sometimes DD eat lunch with DS and the class. I remember coming to eat lunch with him one time just because he wanted me to and I hadn't been to school for awhile.
It was totally open and welcoming, and I really felt like I could come anytime, ask any questions I wanted, anything.
I loved it enough to make sure i got DD on the list for this coming year. (AND ds's teacher says she tries to get siblings whenever she can since she already knows the family and everything.)

As an employee---

I *loved* the room I was in. Because we were in the school district and this was a classroom preparing children for kindergarten, you expect some sort of formal, teacher-directed work.
yes, it was there, in the form of a small-group table time--the kids had to be at the table, the activity was teacher-chosen, and we were actively involved. *BUT*...the activity might be something like stringing letter beads and colored beads---kids could be doing literally anything from fine-motor-skill work (which is happening no matter what if they are doing it, but I mean exclusive of anything else) to finding letters that they know, making patterns, to spelling out their names. ANYTHING.
Basically, we were there to help and encourage, but as long as the kids were at the tables, working with the materials, there was no "Wrong Way" to do most of our activities. They all had many levels and skills that could be used.

Many of our activities were also planned by child interest. (books chosen on a particular topic, table activities following the idea, favorite songs for 'large group' etc etc.)

"Work Time" was a major part of our day. Most of you would call it "free play" probably--it was named with the thought that THIS is the child's "work" at this age. typical choose your play centers, involvement from us as requested by kids or where we saw we were needed.

what i loved about our room is the open-endedness of most of our activities and the way it allowed for all the children to 'succeed' And the respect given to the kids and their desires and needs.

The teacher I worked with was also a very 'available' teacher. (and to give you an idea of the type of person I was, I just had a mom whose kid I had 6 years ago--and 5, child there 2 years, came up to me at the pool just to say hi, see the way-grown babies I brought to visit the classroom, and point out her child who is, by the way, NOT that old in my mind does NOT seem that long ago!)

We also had parents who visited regularly, one mom had part of a day a week the last year I was there, another one's dad I remember came to school on his day off....there were some who came on birthdays and other special days...so much fun.

I guess to me having done my 2 experiences as a parent and my experience as an employee---that "welcome" feeling is what I would look for the most. A teacher who welcomes parents is also one who respects the children. She's (or he but I have yet to see a 'he') got nothing to hide and proud of what they do.

lovin DH since 1/04, best mom for my 3 boys 10/04, 11/08, 11/10 one girlie (1/07), one 13 wk (10/13) and 5/15 just your average multigenerational living family!!
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#6 of 11 Old 07-04-2010, 10:32 PM
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Where I live, headstart is only for Migrant workers, or those are the only children who attend anyway

Single mom to 2 boys
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#7 of 11 Old 07-05-2010, 11:50 AM
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Right, there are dedicated HS programs for migrant families.
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#8 of 11 Old 07-05-2010, 01:03 PM
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Head Start is a wonderful program philosophically. YOu can look at the national Head Start website for program philosophy and curriculum. However, each program is as good as the staff that are running it, and their training level, so like any other preschool program, you have to do your homework and go in and observe, talk to teachers, talk to the managers, etc.


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#9 of 11 Old 07-05-2010, 07:20 PM
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My third child will be attending Head Start this fall, she's the first of ours to ever attend a preschool program of any sort. We are homeschoolers, so it will be a different experience for us. She has speech delays, and we thought that sending her to Head Start may help get her talking more (5 days of vacation bible school a couple weeks ago did wonders for her talking, so we know that we're on the right track to improving her speech). I have a friend who used the local Head Start's home-base program, where they send a teacher once a week for 1 1/2 hours and then on Fridays the kids go to the school, for her 2 kids and she couldn't say enough good things about it. We are doing it because its a free program (all the other "public" preschools here will cost us a lot more than we can afford, and she doesn't qualify for enough services with her speech to qualify for free tuition at those schools) and she needs the interaction with other kids and adults more than I can provide with having 4 kids and my handicaps, so this is our best option.

I have no clue how it will go though, we figure that if nothing else we can start her and if it isn't a good fit we can withdraw her at any point during the school year. Academically she won't have any issues and would be able to go into K if she were old enough, but its the speech that she needs more than anything right now. I just hope we made the right choice for her.............................

Cat- hsing momma to a wild crew of kids
Melissa 4/03, Lydia 5/04, Kimberly 1/06, Jordan 9/07, PJ 2/12, and Nate 5/14
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#10 of 11 Old 09-01-2010, 05:05 PM
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I'm the grant writer for our local Community Action Agency who administers Head Start in our parish. I'm pretty familiar with some of the standards. I had always intended on transitioning to homeschooling by the time my kids were old enough to go to school, or if we still needed my income, then finding a Waldorf-inspired school.

Unfortunately, my husband lost his job this spring. Which made us low-income enough to qualify for Head Start. My son's babysitter was also expecting new grandchildren which made it difficult for her to continue keeping my spirited child. So here we are with a baby (3 years old) in school.

Of course it's not ideal given my philosophies on education. Of course I have my worries since my DS quite possible suffers from ODD and ADHD. I know about HS standards, but let's be real, our program can't compete with the pay offered by the school system. I honestly wasn't expecting the quality that I had envisioned for my son.

So far, three weeks in, I am very impressed with the program. DS's teacher seems very well educated and sensitive to his needs. They are open and transparent (i've called at least once a day and "peeped" on hime MANY times). The teacher talks to me to learn about what works for our family to engage my son. The day is structured so the kids know what to expect, but it is all play. I only wish I could've gotten that grant for more Waldorf-inspired stuff for the classroom and playground.
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#11 of 11 Old 09-01-2010, 08:29 PM
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My children were all enrolled in the Early head start program and we loved it. However, I was not impressed at all with the teachers of the Head Start program. I observed a class and it was sheer chaos!!! I do think it's like any other program - you have to go and observe the classroom. Overall, I would say that it's a wonderful program if you can find the right teacher!

An incredibly thankful SAH Mommy to 3 fiendishly enchanting girls 11/04,10/05, & 12/06. 
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