New Directions Early Head Start
Families are the heart of school readiness.
When families involve their young children in daily learning by talking with them, playing with them, and reading to them from birth, children have:
- Higher literacy skills;
- Better peer interactions;
- Fewer behavior problems; and
- Greater motivation and persistence during learning activities.
In other words, children whose families involve them in learning at home are more successful in school!
Head Start understands and values the key role families play in children’s school readiness. As a parent, grandparent, or other adult family member, there are many ways you can support your child to reach her greatest learning potential.
These steps and resources can support you helping your child learn:
- Find Out How Children Learn What you do with and say to your child makes a big difference, so it is important to know how children learn. These resources talk about how babies, toddlers, and young children learn.
- Babies begin to learn even before they are born! Find out what your baby learns in each month of his very first year.
- Each child develops at his own pace, but there are milestones that most children reach. If you know what developmental milestones to look for, you will know what changes and accomplishments to expect as your child grows.
- When children are healthy and safe, they are able to focus on learning and developing the skills they need to succeed in school. There are many ways that a child’s health affects school readiness.
- Help Your Child Learn Your child is learning all the time. Simple, everyday activities and routines at home, like mealtime, are perfect chances to help them learn important school readiness skills, including social-emotional skills, language and literacy skills, thinking skills (math), and physical skills. These resources provide ideas on things you can do with your child to help him or her learn.
- There are many ways you can help your child learn while having fun doing everyday activities at home and in your community.
- When you read, sing, and talk with your child, you are helping him or her learn about language and the world around him or her.
- When your child has good oral health, he or she is able to learn and grow to her greatest potential.
- Partner with Head Start Staff to Measure and Follow Your Child’s Progress in Learning You know your child best. You know what they can do well, what they’re learning to do, and what they can’t yet do. It is important for you to share this information with Head Start staff so you can work together to set goals for your child and measure his or her progress towards those goals. The following resources cover how children’s progress is measured in Head Start and how families are involved in the process.
- Your child’s Head Start program screens children to see if they are reaching milestones according to their age. Developmental screening can also help you find out if your child needs additional help so he develops to his greatest ability.
- If your child has special needs, you can work with his or her school to develop an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individual Education Plan (IEP) that best meets his or her particular needs. As a partner with the school, you can build the foundation for his or her education and future success.
- With your help, your child has the power to succeed in school! There are many ways to help, at home and in partnership with his teachers. Also available in Spanish (español).
- Get Involved with Your Child’s Head Start Program Children whose families are actively involved in their education do better in school. There are many ways Head Start families can be involved. You can share your culture with the children and help teachers and caregivers prepare. You can organize family events, help with center committee meetings, or become a member of Policy Council. The following resources provide ideas on how you can be involved in your child’s program.
- These stories, written by real Head Start family members, include many ideas on how you can become involved in the Head Start program and how it benefits you and your child.
- The Nurturing the Promise video discusses many of the opportunities available to children and families in Head Start and offers ideas on how families can get involved.
- This fact sheet has suggestions for how you can get involved in your child’s Head Start or Early Head Start program.
Please click here for more information regarding Head Start’s Infant and Toddler School Readiness Approach.