Head Start is designed to help children develop language and literacy, problem solving skills, and learn how to socialize and interact with others. Children are provided with the opportunity to participate in activities that support math, science, art, language and literacy, and culture. The preschool curriculum is research-based, developmentally appropriate and is designed to develop Kindergarten readiness skills. NHA Head Start is committed to ensuring all children are ready for school, families are ready to support their children’s learning, and schools are ready for children. Along with clear and strategic goals for children and highly qualified and diverse staff, NHA ensures children’s success by:
Individualization for Children
Each child receives an individualized educational program based on his/her strengths and needs. Each curriculum is evidenced-based and specifically designed to help children develop language and literacy, problem solving skills, and learn how to socialize and interact with others. Children are provided with the opportunity to participate in activities that support math, science, art, drama, language and culture. Children leave Head Start prepared for kindergarten, excited about learning, confident in their own abilities and ready to succeed.
Highly Qualified Staff
NHA is committed to employing classroom teachers that are highly qualified and demonstrate competencies in early care and education and child development. All Head Start Teachers have an associate’s degree or higher in Early Childhood Education or its equivalent.
Teaching staff receive monthly training to ensure on-going professional development of each staff. Staff participates in monthly group training sessions, as well as in individual staff development plans that support his/her own professional growth and educational goal attainment.
Teachers are provided one-on-one and small group coaching and mentoring so that new training lessons are incorporated into daily routines and teaching. Through a consistent, systemic and guided approach, coaches present feedback in a supportive and non-judgmental manner that engages each teacher. Working together, the coach and the Teacher develop an individualized plan which results in enhanced classroom interactions and classroom environments.
NHA Head Start collects, analyzes and aggregates school readiness data three times per year to track individual child progress, as well as the program’s overall achievement of its school readiness goals.
Data strongly indicated that by the end of their Head Start experience, the majority of preschoolers about to matriculate into kindergarten are in the top two levels (score between 3 and 4), a rough indicator of School Readiness.
Based on assessment results, literacy and mathematics are lower scoring domains by the end of the program term. However, through a targeted approach in curriculum enhancements, staff development and increased teacher effectiveness, these domains have the highest percentage of change from fall to spring.
School Readiness Goals
The Head Start approach means children are ready for school, families are ready to support their children’s learning and schools are ready for children.
NHA developed expanded school readiness goals based on guidance provided in the School Readiness for All document developed by the National Center on Quality Teaching. There are18 goals for all preschool aged children, plus an additional 2 goals for dual language learners. NHA Head Start School Readiness goals are representative of the domains of the Head Start/Early Learning Framework and are also aligned to the California State Preschool Learning Foundations.
These school readiness goals address children’s development in the following five domains:
- Approaches to Learning (Initiative, Curiosity, Cooperation, Persistence, Attentiveness, Music and Movement, Art, Drama)
- Cognition and General Knowledge (Number Concepts & Relationships, Geometry, Measurement, Patterns, Scientific Skills, Knowledge of the Natural/Physical World, of Self, Family & Community, of History, and of People & the Environment)
- Language and Literacy Development (Book Appreciation, Early Writing, Phonological Awareness, Print Concepts, Expressive Language, Receptive Language, Alphabet Knowledge, English Language Development)
- Social/Emotional Development (Positive Social Relationships, Self-Concept & Efficacy, Self-Regulation, Emotional & Behavioral Health)
- Physical & Health Development (Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Health Knowledge & Practice)
Ensuring Quality in the Classroom
NHA ensures all classroom interactions and school environments meet the most stringent standards in the field of child development. To guarantee the highest standards are met, NHA regularly monitors the service delivery quality of each classroom. This is accomplished through:
- Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) – designed to assess teacher-child interactions that support children’s learning and development: Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support.
- Environmental Rating Scales (ECERS/ITERS) – designed to measure quality in space and furnishings, personal care routines, language-reasoning, activities, interactions, program structure, and parents and staff.
- Health and Safety Checklists – designed to ensure that the indoor and outdoor environment of each facility is safe, in good repair and healthy for all children.
- On-going Monitoring – a dedicated Quality Assurance team regularly monitors to ensure program compliance in all areas of service.
- DRDP Desired Results Development Profile
- CLASS- What is CLASS
- Creative Curriculum
- Quality Preschool Initiative
- California Preschool Curriculum Foundations & Frameworks
- Infant/Toddler Learning & Development Foundations
- The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning