tips for successfully homeschooling your kids

Why You Should Enroll Your Child In Head Start

by Guy Jacobs

Head Start is federally funded program for children 3 to 5 years old and it focuses on preparing children for entering school. It benefits your community in various ways, and it assists your family in the important areas of health, nutrition, socialization, and educational skills.

History, Focus, and Enrollment

Head Start was originally a short-term summer school catch-up program that began in 1965 to help disadvantaged children enter elementary school with necessary skills to be successful. It was expanded by the Head Start Act of 1981 and revised/reauthorized in 2007 and falls under the direction of US Department of Health and Human Services.

To enroll your child for Head Start you will need to your local program and follow its guidelines.

Objectives and Goals

The Head Start program focuses on the educational, health, social, and nutritional needs of preschoolers of low income families. It provides full-day and full-year services to assist parents who are currently enrolled in training/educational programs or who are employed.

The objectives of local Head Start programs generally include:

  • To provide a responsive and individualized education approach for children from various backgrounds and cultures that will result in learning and healthy development of preschoolers.
  • Improve the health, dental health, and nutrition of children.
  • Provide screenings and referrals for follow up on potential health problems of those children.
  • Assist the family as a whole to move forward so their quality of life can improve.

The long term goals include:

  • Working with the community to provide a variety of family-centered supportive services.
  • Helping children to progress in social competence, and make gains in health, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.
  • Help children and their families attain basic needs, identify strengths, and set their own family and personal goals.

Advantages of the Program

According various studies, the program has helped children to:

  • Have higher scores in cognitive test and socio-emotional test scores,
  • Have an improved health status,
  • To be more likely to be promoted to the next grade in school, and
  • To be less likely to need special education classes.

This program's benefits have been found to generalize out into the greater community by influencing other educational, economic, health care, and social service institutions.

Head Start has been criticized in recent years because the scholastic gains made in early school years by children who have been in the program eventually dissipate as children who did not attend begin to catch up. Some feel that if the schools in lower income areas were improved, the gains would continue. It can also be said that entering school with better skills would give a child a more positive initial experience.

Northwestern University researchers have found that parents of children who were in the program from age three were encouraged to make educational improvements of their own. This is particularly true of persons who already have some college, and they are able and motivated as result of the program to go back to school. This in turn could motivate parents to seek expanded educational opportunities for their children as they grow older.

The long-term impacts of attending Head Start programs on children has shown to be:

  • They are more likely to graduate high school.
  • They are more likely to go on to college.
  • They are less likely to likely to commit crime and be incarcerated.
  • They are more likely to be employed.
  • They are usually healthier as adults.

In short, Head Start is a beneficial program for your child and the rest of your family. It will help your child begin school with the necessary skills to blend in with the other children, and will help them on into adulthood. It will give you support to obtain your educational goals. In these ways, it benefits the community as a whole. Contact a Head Start program like Child Focus Inc for more information.