Approach to Early Learning

Dear Mothers, Fathers, and Guardians,

Thank you for choosing Head Start for your child’s early learning program! Because parents are children’s most important teachers, Head Start and parents work in partnership to prepare children for success in school and in life. The following information will provide an introduction to Head Start’s early learning approach. The information will help you and your child’s teachers work together to support your child’s learning.

For more information about curriculum, screening and assessment:
Education & Child Development

A day in the life…

Play Plan Example I

Play Plan Example

  • Opening activities
    • Weather, linear calendar, question of the week, message of the day
  • Play and play planning
    • Children grow and learn school readiness skills through activities carried out as they play
    • Teachers build on children’s ideas to achieve intentional make believe play
  • Movement games
    • Songs and games are used to support the development of self-regulation and large motor skills
    • By using physical self-regulation children are better able to regulate their own behavior, emotional and thinking skills
  • Literacy activities
    • Play plans
    • Buddy reading
    • Graphic practice
    • Read aloud
  • Math/Science activities include things like:
    • Children observe and record data
    • Make graphs
    • Plant seeds
    • Go for nature walks
    • Observe cause and effect

I really enjoy the play 2 learn program. My daughter was 3 when she started and she points out a mail truck every time we see one because she had made her own.
~Maria Garduno, Head Start Parent

Curriculum components to promote school readiness

Play Plan Example II

Play Plan Example

  • The creative Curriculum: Teachers plan a rich learning environment using learning centers
  • Jolly Phonics: A joyful and humorous series of songs and finger plays engage children in learning the sounds of letters and letter recognition
  • Conscious Discipline: Positive discipline techniques encourage children to realize the consequences of their behavior, make good choices and take responsibility for their actions
  • S.A.V.E: Children learn that they have the right to feel safe, that others have this right as well and that there are ways to ask for help when needed
  • Health, oral health, nutrition, transportation and pedestrian safety components are intentionally woven into the program

Play 2 Learn Overview

Is based on the theory and research done of child development by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky.

Play Plan Example III

Play Plan Example

Main Goals

  • To develop underlying thinking skills such as self-regulation, deliberate memory and focused attention.
    • Being able to think ahead, plan and follow directions
    • Paying attention during stories and other activities
    • Remembering things that the teacher tells children – directions, information, facts
  • To develop social-emotional school readiness: emotional and behavioral self-control, take another’s point of view, resolve disagreements, and want to learn.
    • Not losing your temper when you don’t get your way
    • Being kind to and respectful of others
    • Wanting to learn and keep trying when it isn’t easy
  • Build foundation for later academic learning through specific skill development: symbolic thinking and early reading/writing/math skills.
    • Knowing the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they represent
    • Being able to write your name
    • Being ab le to recognize familiar words
    • Visualizing objects and thoughts in your mind

How can parents support children’s learning?

Play Plan Example IV

Play Plan Example

Mothers, fathers and guardians are encouraged to reinforce and help to strengthen children’s learning.

Here are some helpful steps:

  • Visit your child’s classroom
  • Share information with the teachers about your child
  • Notice how play scenarios are set up in the classroom and how children select and play out specific roles
  • Chat with your child; encourage him/her to tell you about school.
  • As you and your child are out in the community (for instance, at the grocery store or doctor’s office) help your child notice other interesting people in the setting and what they are doing
  • Encourage children’s make believe play at home
  • Encourage your child to think of ways to use recycled materials to make props for role-playing at school and at home (for instance, decorate a cardboard box to make a car, fire truck or ambulance)
  • Help your child enjoy and play successfully with other children
  • Read to your child and help your child notice the importance of written materials in your daily life. Talk about what you read.
  • Watch for “at home” activities. Enjoy the learning activities your child brings home to do with the family
  • Delight with your child in his/her learning
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