Parent Education
Frankie Hoover Gibson, Parent Involvement Program Specialist, Head Start Bureau

The parent education aspects of the Parent Involvement component have always been an important part of successful Head Start programs. Originally the Performance Standards addressed parent education expectations in Section 1304.5-3. In 1976, the guidance portion for all sections of the Parent Involvement Performance Standards was expanded to re-emphasize its importance. The Head Start Improvement Act of 1992 directs local programs to "provide (directly or through referral to educational services available in the community) parents of children participating in its Head Start program with child development and literacy skills training in order to aid their children to attain their full potential."

In every component area, the Performance Standards reinforce the fact that parents are the prime educators and nurturers of their children and that the Head Start staff must offer varied opportunities for them to expand and enhance that role. Relevant references in the Performance Standards include:

Because Head Start programs need to use many different strategies to reach every individual parent, the publication, Head Start Parenting Education Resource Directory, was compiled. The preliminary version was sent to the field in January, 1993, with a request for feedback. A second special printing for the Parent Involvement Institute incorporated the field suggestions, where appropriate. Centers are encouraged to refer to this document when considering what parenting materials to use in their programs. If your program does not have this directory, single copies are available.

Many parents at the Parent Involvement Institute stated that one of the major change events in Head Start for them personally as well as for their total family was the opportunity to participate in a parenting education activity. Every program needs to explore ways to support the strengthening of parenting skills for every nurturing adult participating.

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