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Head Start Programs provide early preschool access for young children, from ages 3-5 years old, from low income families. The National Head Start Association is a non-profit organization that leads and supports Head Start Programs. Their goal is to provide access to school readiness programs and support the overall wellbeing of the child and their families.
After reviewing the NHSA website, I have learned that Head Start benefits both young children and their families as a whole. Their website includes published research and studies that include the role and impact Head Start has had on school readiness, academic achievement, development, health, and family stability and how this information can be implemented to reach and better care for more children and their families. While meeting the needs of the children enrolled in their programs, they provide services and introduce families to programs that will aid their parents and families as a whole. Providing for the family’s wellbeing is important because it allows the child to strive in a positive, healthy, and encouraging environment. Head Start is accessible to children who are facing homelessness and those within the foster care system. I reviewed Research Within Reach, Ep.5: Early Education and Foster Placement that shared research trying to answer the question if early childhood education helps children in the child welfare system. “Children under the age of five account for more than one-third of children in foster care in the United States.”(Research within Reach, 2018) This is the age group reached within Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Within this research, “One significant relationship that emerged is that when families participated in Head Start (as opposed to no ECE), children were 93% less likely to end up in foster care, a correlation not found by participating in any other types of ECE.”(Research within Reach, 2018) Head Start utilizes the information found in studies to better reach children and their families. Conducting further research and utilizing the information gathered “may strengthen the argument for expanding Head Start eligibility to not just those in foster care, but to all children in families involved in the welfare system.”(Research within Reach, 2018)

The Head Start program has been around for more than 50 years, and today serves over one million children and their families. Head Start is a federally funded program under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services department. Head Start focuses on the development of the Whole Child, that includes cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills. The Head Start Program also focuses on the Whole Family by providing resources to help families find employment or housing, and continue their education. When you think of Head Start you might think of 4-year-old children getting ready to enter kindergarten, but this program also serves children ages 0-3 through the Early Head Start program as well as offering services to pregnant women.
The four major components of Head Start are education, health, parent involvement, and social services. The Head Start education focuses on the whole child. Health services provided through this program include immunizations, dental and medical screenings, and mental health and nutritional services. Head start strives to get parents involved in the planning and implementation of activities. Every head start has a policy council made up of parents that make administrative decisions, and also offer workshops on child development, and opportunities to volunteer in classrooms. Social services are there to make contact with families in order to find out what needs they might have.
According to Adele Diamond of the University of British Columbia, “If we want the best academic outcomes, the most efficient and cost-effective route to achieve that is, counterintuitively, not to narrowly focus on academics, but to also address children’s social, emotional, and physical development.” (Diamond, 2010) A quality education is more than just the memorization of facts. Developing the whole child requires strategies to develop attitudes towards success, clear reasoning, and responsible and caring citizens.

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Head Start is a The goal of Head Start is to help every child reach their full potential. The program was founded on the idea of providing not only education, but also health and nutrition services to children experiencing poverty. In their current form, they say they take a “comprehensive approach” to helping young children succeed. They focus on four main components: providing a varied learning experience, providing health and medical services, involving parents in the planning and implementation of the program, and providing social services to families who need help.
Head Start is an incredible program because of their commitment to providing every child, regardless of the challenges they face, the resources they need to succeed. Children who participate in the Head Start program are those who have significant socioeconomic disadvantages and would otherwise likely be held back from reaching their full potential. It is incredibly important for children who need more help to succeed, because of situations they were born into.
In addition to the amazing services the provide for children, they have myriad resources on their website for parents. They have PDFs on a large variety of topics like social emotional development, physical health, parent advancement, and bilingualism, among many others. Head Start truly is a program designed to support the whole child, and to give their family the best chance. They demonstrate a deep understanding of child and family development, and a drive to ensure that children aren’t left behind because of circumstances beyond their control. They seem to work toward not equality in education, but equity.

I had a hard time picking three elements that had the biggest take away for me. The first would have to be the memory lesson in week three. I never knew there were so many influences to cause false memories, and just so many ways memories are forgotten in general. I found that whole week the most interesting. My second would have to be week four, lifespan development. This section of the course expanded m knowledge greatly. Lastly, I enjoyed the lesson in week five on learning thinking and intelligence. I found the part of classical conditioning to be the most interesting. As I have a pet of my own, and when she hears me opening up her bag of food, she comes running into the kitchen every time without fail. The most meaningful experiences in the class would be in the forums where everyone gets to tell about themselves. I always enjoy these the most as I like to see what everyone is doing and reading about future goals. I like how like the forums encourage conversation and put everyone’s thoughts and ideas out there. If I could pick just one thing that the world would be well served to understand psychology better, it would be keeping a sleep/dream journal. I chose this because when doing my research for the sleep journal assignment, I found an article about lucid dreaming, and it was noted that way to have lucid dreams more frequently is by keeping a dream journal. I have continued to keep a journal of my dreams since the start of that project.

I would like to start off by congratulating everyone for making it to the end of the course I hope it serviced you as a good learning experience because it did to me. One of the takeaway elements in the course would be the week 3 forum/lesson on memories. The reason I choose this one is that I didn’t realize how much can affect someone’s memory which in turn creates false memories. Another one would be the week 4 forum when we all got to share what we hope to achieve. The reason I choose this one is that I like to see what people are thinking of doing in the future and it helps me learn more about something I want to do. Lastly would be week 6 when we go into psychological disorders being that I have always had a fear of developing a psychological disorder being in the military. Even though I choose these three as my takeaways and meaningful experience I do believe this whole course helped me develop personal and professional. The three most meaning full experiences would be the sleep journal, next step forum which I just explain, and the psychological disorder forums. Breaking down my dreams to understand it more mad a huge difference in how I analyze my dreams. If I could pick just one thing that the world would be well served to better understand about psychology it would be keeping a sleep journal. I chose this because it honestly helps me a lot more then I thought it would by helping me understand how actions throughout the day affected my sleep and dreams. I have already recommended it to some of my friends.

I cant believe this is the last week of the course, already! Congratulations to you all for completing yet another course towards your degree. Three “take aways” from the class that would benefit me in my own life would be the prosocial behavior because it felt great to have random acts of kindness and I loved that my daughter was able to watch me do random acts of kindness and will hopefully continue to do the same as I do. My daughter watching me do this in hopes she will do the same brings me into my next “take away,” Learning styles. With having a daughter and another baby on the way these styles of learning will be something I will be using constantly on a daily basis. My third take away would be the sleep chapters. Like I mentioned, having a daughter and another baby on the way, sleep will be something I will need to pay close attention to as I wont be getting much of it for the next couple of years.
The most meaningful part of this course for me was the interaction with the other classmates. We were able to have many great discussions through the forums about things we agreed upon and things we did not. Everyone did so in a respectful manor and it was great to hear everyone elses opinions on certain topics.
If I could pick just one thing that the world would be well served to better understand about psychology it would be paying more attention to your sleep. I chose this because sleep can affect so many other aspects of life, mood, and behaviors. I wanted to choose the prosocial behavior, but with better sleep I feel that prosocial behaviors will come along with that.
congratulations everyone and best of luck to you!

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