Meeting Students’ Needs
Parents and teachers partner together to screen the children for appropriate development in self-help, social, motor, language, and cognitive skills, as well as for health, dental, vision, hearing, behavior and emotional concerns. Parents and teachers write individual goals for each child, progress on the goals is monitored, and goals are revised with the parents mid-year. Daily lesson plans include objectives for individual students and records are kept of individual assistance provided each child. The classrooms provide active learning experiences with a variety of materials and equipment so that children have opportunities to express their feelings, explore new situations, and be successful. Children are encouraged to make choices, to solve problems, initiate activities, experiment and to question. Our Head Start (HS) program is funded to serve 251 children, so some applicants remain on the waiting list. The program has been able to add 60 full day and 4 half day additional students with Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) funding. The Early Head Start (EHS) program is funded to serve 28. The VPI students are funded for a full school year of 180 days and Head Start for 160 days. Early Head Start is a year round program offering center based classes year round or 180 days with summer home visiting. Other families are provided full year home visiting services. Our ECSE program provides developmentally appropriate learning experiences for young children between the ages of 2 and 5 that have been identified as having a disability. Parents are involved in program governance, in program design and classroom instruction.
Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
Stafford Schools Early Childhood Program provides a developmental curriculum designed to provide literacy and language development, early mathematical skills, fine and gross motor physical development, begin scientific inquiry skills, and foster creativity in music, art, movement and dramatic play. The curriculum also provides direct instruction for development of social and emotional skills, nutrition, health and safety practices. Early literacy development focuses on alphabetic knowledge, print and book concepts, Vocabulary and phonemic skills are taught in the context of books, songs, and rhymes through sound matching, rhyming, alliteration, substituting sounds, and identifying beginning and ending sounds. Daily instructional objectives and activities are based on the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework and the Virginia Foundation Blocks for Early Learning. Children plan, do, and review their activities each day. Students are assessed three times each year with the Stafford Head Start Skills Assessment. Four-year-old students also are assessed in the fall and spring on pre-reading skills with the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening. Students who are fortunate to speak another language are assessed in the fall and spring on their improvement in learning English. Teachers meet at least four times a year with parents to discuss the child’s progress.
Parents serve on the Stafford Schools Early Childhood Program Policy Council, making program planning, policy, and personnel decisions, as well as assessing the quality of each aspect of the program. Parent workshops and activities are held each month, with information on budgeting, job search training, nutrition and meal planning, CPR and first aid, safety, health, and mental health topics, child abuse prevention, substance abuse, domestic violence, and healthy relationships. Fatherhood development and male involvement activities are held each month. Family events are planned throughout the year. GED and parenting classes are held on-site. Each classroom strives to achieve 100% parent involvement with parents invited to volunteer as often as possible and to contribute activity ideas related to the curriculum. Parents contribute anecdotal notes on the progress of their child for the Skills Assessment and work with the teacher to write individual goals for the child. Teachers make at least two home visits each year.