I have a long, wonderful history with Head Start. I was in Head Start when I was a little girl. I volunteered in a Head Start classroom during college. My two children attended Head Start. Throughout the years, I have worked in Head Start, including now at Starfish Family Services’ Thrive by Five.
As a parent, Head Start helped me differently with two of my children. With my older son, I had concerns about his socialization. He was an only child at home—at the time. Also, he was two months’ premature, so he didn’t show a lot of the typical infant signs that parents are told to look for. Like many first-time moms, I was worried. He had speech and hearing assessments at Head Start. The speech pathologist said my son understood directions. He was fine. He just wasn’t ready to say anything.
After about two months, he got familiar with the classroom, the other kids, and his teachers. Then, he just blossomed. He’s 16 now and I tell you the boy hasn’t stopped talking since he started—when he was ready, in his own time. I still believe that Head Start made a difference with him, pulling him out of his shell.
My second son also attended Head Start. He has severe food allergies. To this day, he walks around with an Epi-pen everywhere he goes. When he was little, Head Start connected us with a dietitian and nutritionist. He had so many allergies! I didn’t know what to give him. The Head Start dietitian and nutritionist helped us learn how to cook things that might appeal to him—how to pair things so he wasn’t missing out on the nutrition he needed. They also sat down with his teachers to make sure they monitored the things that he was exposed to. That experience made me realize how much Head Start supports the child and family. Head Start helped with not just the education part, but also teaching us different ways to help my son eat safely, which has carried throughout his life.
I had serious, but different concerns with each of my sons. Head Start helped guide us through it each time.