Head Start becomes home-based

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By Rachel Mergen

 

Earlier this year, Head Start, a free, federally-funded school-readiness program for children ages 3 to 5, announced that it would be closing its Crawford County center. The local branch of the program will become home-based.

Once a week during the school year, instructors will come to the children’s homes for an hour and a half. Sara Ross, a Head Start family service coordinator, stated, “The first hour will be spent with the child on learning objectives that have been set up.  The last half hour is with the family.” 

In addition, students and families will periodically participate in a social. This event will help students work on their communication skills and create friendships between the students and their attending loved ones.

Teachers in the program are trained to teach based on a pre-existing curriculum that helps young students learn basic skills, like language, reading, math, science and art. Children also learn about being respectful and how to use proper manners. They work to develop self-helping skills, too.

By changing Crawford County’s Head Start to a home-based program, families will be able to interact more with their children’s education. 

Originally, while center-based, work and communication with the parents during the course was a challenge. The center was open and classes would occur Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. These hours would limit parents’ abilities to attend the classes. Volunteering and working on projects at home was one of the few daily ways parents could truly be involved in their child’s early education, even though Head Start has always understood the importance of family in students’ lives. 

According to the Head Start Coulee Region website, “Parents are a vital part of an effective Head Start program.”

“It’s a strong parent connection,” Robyn Wolfert, child and family services manager at Head Start in La Crosse, stated about the importance of the home-based program. She believes that students communicating and learning with their parents more will be an asset to the school-readiness program. 

Parents will be able to help set-up goals for the lessons, which the instructors will work to achieve with the child.

Eligibility to be a part of the Head Start program is based on public assistance received by the family, gross household income and family size, along with other determining factors. Any family is able to apply.

The program occurs each school year, from August to May. 

Head Start takes pride in well-educated instructors that meet or exceed the same levels of readiness as other early education instructors. The private program’s curriculum is held at the same national standards as others.

Enrollment applications are available at http://www.headstartcouleeregion.com/. More information about this program can also be found at this website, or by calling the La Crosse center at (608) 785-2070.

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