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.
- Parents are provided the opportunity to participate in the classroom and other program activities as paid employees, volunteers, and observers. (1304.5- 1(c), 70.2)
- Provide opportunities for parents to work with their own children in cooperation with Head Start staff. (1304.5-1(c), 70.2)
- Involve parents in educational activities of the program to enhance their role as the primary influence in their child's education and development. (1304.5- 1(a))
- Identify and reinforce experiences which occur in the home that parents can utilize as educational activities for their children. (1304.2-1(e))
- Assist parents in understanding and using alternative ways to foster learning and development of their children. (1304.2-2(a))
- Include parents in curriculum development and have them as resources. (1304 (3))
- Enhance parents' knowledge and understanding of the educational and developmental needs and activities of children by:
- parent participation in planning the education program, and in center, classroom, and home based activities;
- parent training in activities that can be used in the home to reinforce learning and development of their children in the center;
- parent training in the observation, growth, and development of their children in the home environment and in identification of and handling special developmental needs;
- participation of staff in staff-parent conferences and home visits;
- parent training focusing on child development and behavioral developmental problems of pre school children. (1304.2-2(e) (1-5))
- Provide parents information about all available health resources. (1304.3-6(a) (1))
- Encourage parents to become involved in their child's health care and to accompany their child to health appointments. (1304.3-6(a) (2))
- Involve parents in planning and implementing individual mental health needs of their children. (1304.3- 8(b) (8))
- Help parent groups work with other neighborhood and community groups with similar concerns. (1304.4-2(b) (1))
- Involve parents in health, mental health, dental, and nutrition education. (1304.5-3(d))
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.
Back to Top | Back to Table of Contents | Next Page