Head Start students, families learning beyond classroom
As children throughout the region are studying and participating in activities with their classmates online, Southern Seven Head Start students, and their families, are too – and in ways that go beyond the classroom.
When schools were closed in March due to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, Southern Seven Head Start began to implement strategies to stay connected with families and ways to keep services available.
“Many activities are being done via social media.” said Jennifer Parks, Early Head Start administrator for the Southern Seven Head Start program.
“Some teachers are visiting the children via FaceTime for special wishes for birthdays, or if the child has questions about why they are not attending school.”
Teachers are preparing packets of activities for the families to do at home with their children.
Book readings, virtual dress-up days, science experiments and tips and ideas are given to the families.
While the Head Start centers have been closed, Head Start teachers and staff have been checking in on the families and helping them with any resources they may need during this time, including meals.
Children enrolled in Head Start are provided nutritious meals and snacks while at the centers. For many families, this is a vital resource.
“Three centers are providing meals to the families given out as a grab and go,” Parks said. “That will feed the children for that week that meets all of the USDA requirements.”
Families can contact Southern Seven Head Start to arrange for pick up.
A questionnaire is being completed with each family to see what its needs may be and how they are being affected by the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
Loss or layoff from their job, concerns with their health, and consumables such as food or diapers etc. that might be hard to find are among the questions.
Head Start will then assist families in getting them the resources they need.
Although their focus is on what is happening now, Head Start teachers are also looking ahead to a new school year.
Staff members have been using the time to brush up on professional development training for themselves. Enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year continues.
Families can contact their local center or the Southern Seven Head Start central office at 618-634-2297 to get the application process started with phone interview.
Head Start provides full-day classes and has dual enrollment with pre-kindergarten.
Southern Seven Head Start is a federally funded educational program for income-eligible families who live in the lower seven counties in Illinois.
Children in the program learn kindergarten readiness skills, participate in educational activities and socialization skills, and receive healthy meals and snacks. They also receive health, dental and developmental screenings.
Families with children in Head Start have access to mental health services, parent engagement and training tools, and services to children of all needs and abilities. They are also able to volunteer in the program.
For more information, search Southern Seven on Facebook and at www.southern7.org.