HOW CAN HEAD START BENEFIT YOUR CHILD?
Children do a lot of growing and learning, especially young children. Children learn many basic cognitive, social, and motor skills necessary to leading a normal adult life before turning five years of age. An example of this is the fact that most people learn to speak and walk when they are toddlers. Without steady stimulation and interaction, it can become more difficult for a child to notice normal behaviors, like speaking when spoken to or being cautious of strangers. Without a solid foundation of learning in childhood, it can be very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to retrieve later. Sometimes children from low-income households do not have access to the same learning opportunities as other children. Often times children from low-income households have one or two working parents who may not necessarily have as much time to help them learn.
Head Start is a government program that helps small children from low-income households develop learning habits, social skills and general cognitive abilities. Through Head Start, children have the opportunity to interact with other children their age and prepare for future success in school. Children who enroll in the Head Start program will receive several health evaluations including vision, behavioral and hearing tests. Children in Head Start will also have their dental, medical, and nutrition needs met. Head Start provides snacks and meals that are high in nutritional value to all eligible children.
Head Start also has a program specifically for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women called Early Head Start. Early Head Start is much like Head Start except Early Head Start places more emphasis on active parenting and the relationship between a parent and child. Early Head Start stresses the importance of parent involvement, though it also encourages children to be independent, critical thinkers.
Not all children qualify for Head Start. To be eligible for Head Start, children must be between three and five years of age and meet the household income requirements. Since Head Start helps children from families with little financial support, only children who live in households with a combined income that is less than or equal to 130 percent of the federal poverty line. The income requirement may be met if a child who lives in a household that is already benefitting from financial government assistance like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
An important aspect of Head Start is teaching children how to communicate with their peers effectively. Head Start teaches cultural sensitivity, involving everyone in activities even if a child is different, and learning how to treat everyone with respect. Community building is one of the most vital lessons taught in Head Start because not every child in the program has a sufficient support system. Overall, Head Start is a great way to ensure that your child is learning and developing at a healthy pace.