My older son and daughter went to Head Start several years ago, so I knew the program. My little girls started Early Head Start at New St. Paul Head Start Agency when they were around 4 months old. Nevaeh is 3 now and Harmoni is 1.
I like the Early Head Start because you find out more about child development. My youngest daughter, Harmoni, has a speech delay. New St. Paul quickly got her enrolled in EarlyOn. I also got her enrolled in ParentChild. Both give her speech therapy. In just three months, she’s already saying more words—ball, ice cream, bye—and talking more frequently. It’s wonderful.
My oldest daughter probably should have been in EarlyOn too for a speech delay. I didn’t know where to go besides her doctor for the resources. With Early Head Start, we learn more about what’s offered in the community and what’s available to help us.
Early Head Start shows just how much little kids can learn. People will tell me that the kids just nap or do nothing but play. It’s so much more. It’s just amazing for little kids, ages 1 to 3, knowing that it’s time to eat, or it’s time to clean up, or it’s time to listen to music. They learn how to share. They learn time management. They learn a routine. They learn how to play with other kids.
I’m on the parent committee for the center. This is also my fourth year on the policy council for an agency, and I’m the chair of policy council now.
I like being able to help parents figure out how to understand their own kids and knowing all the resources that are available to them. Early Head Start gives parents a community to learn from and help each other. It’s one thing to hear something from a teacher, but when a parent tells you, they are mixing in personal experience with the information. It’s more relatable. It feels like, “You understand my struggle.”
People don’t want to say they need help with housing, transportation, clothing or utilities. They don’t feel comfortable saying they need those things because they don’t want to be judged. With my roles on the parent committee and policy council, I just share information and resources. I just put it out there for whoever needs it. Parents can take whatever information they need and use it. They don’t have to ask. When they feel ready to ask, they know we’re here to help.
It’s really good to help other parents reach out for the things they need. We all know life is a struggle. Being connected to information and resources, that’s really beneficial.