Head Start Home Visiting - HAPCAP

Head Start Home Visiting

mother and son during home visit

On an early fall day, Sierra met Ms. Laurie on the porch and welcomed her into the cozy home. After setting down her basket full of toys and activities, Ms. Laurie called out, “Michael,” and the happy four-year-old came bouncing into the living room from the kitchen where he had just finished breakfast. After a quick hug, we all sat down on the thick carpet. Keeping with the season, Ms. Laurie pulled out “Room on the Broom” to work on Michael’s reading skills. 

“He’s a good reader,” says Ms. Laurie. “We thought he was just memorizing, but when we brought in different books, we saw that he was really reading.” Ms. Laurie pulled out a small toy broom and clothespins with characters from the book pasted on. Michael started reading while his mom helped him pin the characters onto the toy broom. The family has participated with Head Start for just over a year. During these weekly meetings, Michael has made a lot of progress. 

At a doctor’s visit, Michael received a referral into the program to provide support for language development. At three years old, he only used a few words and was mostly non-verbal. “I didn’t want to send him anywhere because it wouldn’t have been fun for anyone,” Sierra explains. Michael’s lack of verbal development would keep him from connecting with other kids, and it would be difficult for his teachers to know what he needs if he wasn’t able to communicate with them. Head Start’s home visits worked well for the family. “We started working on language with songs, nursery rhymes and pretend play. It was clear Michael had his own ideas, he just didn’t know how to express them. Once we started working together, it all came out.” Some of Michael’s favorites include the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “The Busy Little Engine.” “He loves anything with trains,” Sierra exclaimed.

Head Start supplemented other interventions. “We started at speech therapy, and that really helped. He did well there.” Home visits could build on the work done in speech therapy and help his parents discover simple ways to practice the techniques learned there. After just a few months, Michael graduated from speech therapy. “He’s glad Ms. Laurie still comes around,” says Sierra

Micheal now attends preschool at the local public school four days a week. He can talk with other kids and his teachers. He loves reading. He and his mom read together every day. Support provided by Head Start has helped him grow from non-verbal, using just a handful of words, to a talkative and imaginative kid, with more than a thousand words in his vocabulary, at and above what is typical for four-year-olds. 

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