Head Start promotes skills
Lesli Beery has been Head Start teacher at Marion for 11 years. Classes are in session twice a day Monday through Thursday at the elementary school.
Beery said preparing 3- and 4-year-olds for school is one of the goals of Head Start, but just as important, or more so, is teaching them how to handle situations and relate to people.
“If children learn social and emotional skills, they will be able to handle anything,” she said.
Head Start is a federal program, and government regulations dictate how it is run.
The program serves children who turn 3 years by Aug. 31 and whose families meet income guidelines. Six other children from the community are allowed to participate with no income requirements. Their parents pay tuition.
Marion County Special Education Cooperative refers qualifying students with special needs and provides a para, if needed.
Beery teaches a maximum of 17 students in a class. One age group meets in the morning, the other age group in the afternoon. The morning class receives breakfast and lunch. The afternoon class receives lunch and a snack.
Both classes meet for 3½ hours a day. Beery is assisted by two aides.
Head Start follows a creative curriculum with academics and social skills wrapped into a theme. Up to six weeks can be spent on one theme.
Right now, one of Beery’s classes is studying buildings. On Monday, the children walked around the school, looked at the building, and then made drawings of what they saw.
Children also heard the “Three Little Pigs” story, which features different building materials.
Another time, children were learning about signs. For one activity, they walked to Carlsons’ Grocery and observed workers as they placed price tags on shelves.
“Most of their learning is done through play,” Beery said.
She loves that the program is family oriented. It helps families set goals for themselves and their children and connects them with resources to help the family succeed.
Beery has enjoyed watching the children advance in life.
“The children in my first class of 4-year-olds now are juniors in high school,” she said. “The 3-year-olds are sophomores.
“Head Start gives children an amazing start. I’ve loved this job ever since I started. My four older children all went through the program, and my youngest will start next fall.”
She is fond of and understandably biased toward her Head Start children.
“I have the cutest kids in the school,” she said.
Last modified Nov. 7, 2018