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From First Teachers to First Advocates

by Emmalie Dropkin
May/June 2015
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/from-first-teachers-to-first-advocates/5022348/

The powerful two-generation effects of Head Start on child development and family stability are rooted in the program’s most central value: Parents are their children’s first teachers. In 1965, parents were teachers and volunteers in the first Head Start classrooms. In 2013-2014, more than 56,000 Head Start staff were current or former Head Start parents and more than 800,000 current Head Start parents volunteered in their children’s classrooms. Every program across the country was led by a Policy Council made up of parents empowered to make decisions about program design in order to meet their communities’ needs. This large-scale engagement of parents, especially at a time when so many schools in the K-12 system struggle to make parents feel welcome, raises a question: What is Head Start doing right?

Acknowledging Children and Supporting Their Needs

Engaging parents begins with recognizing and respecting every parent and every child. Lavania Burrous enrolled her granddaughter in Head Start knowing that her granddaughter needed special supports: she is deaf and was struggling with separation from her mother. Two years later, Lavania’s grateful as she remembers explaining her granddaughter’s hearing loss to the teacher and watching the teacher begin to sign. In the time since, the program has ...

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