Child Development & Education

Meeting Each Child's Individual Needs

Our program implements the Creative Curriculum which is a comprehensive scientific, research-based curriculum for providing developmentally appropriate practices for young children.

Children participate in indoor and outdoor play and are introduced to the concepts of letters and numbers. They are encouraged to express their feelings and to develop self-confidence and the ability to get along with others through a PATHS (Promote Alternating Thinking Skills) curriculum. It also aims to meet the ethnic and cultural needs of the local community.

Our program uses a variety of curriculum enhancements such as:

  • Cavity Free Kids
  • CATCH
  • Second Step Talking About Touching.
  • Alphachants
  • Active Play
  • Color Me Healthy

Our Creative Curriculum


Our Philosophy

The philosophy behind our curriculum is that young children learn best by doing. Learning isn't just repeating what someone else says; it requires active thinking and experimenting to find out how things work and to learn firsthand about the world we live in.

Symbolic Thinking

In using real materials such as blocks and trying out their ideas, children learn about sizes, shapes, and colors and they notice relationships between things. In time, they learn to use one object to stand for another. This is the beginning of symbolic thinking. For example, they might pretend a stick is an airplane or a block is a hamburger. These early symbols - the stick and the block - are similar in shape to the objects they represent. Gradually children become more and more able to use abstract symbols like words to describe their thoughts and feelings. They learn to "read" pictures which are symbols of real people, places and things. This exciting development in symbolic thinking takes place during the pre-school years as children play.

The Foundation for Learning

Play provides the foundation for academic or "school" learning. It is the preparation children need before they learn highly abstract symbols such as letters (which are symbols for sounds) and numbers (which are symbols for number concepts). Play enables us to achieve the key goals of our early childhood curriculum. Play is the work of young children.
 

A Typical Day at Head Start


Every classroom designs a daily schedule to provided consistency and regular routine for young children. The schedule includes a balanced program of child initiated and adult-directed activities, including individual and small group activities, routines, and transitions. Provide alternating periods of quiet and active play. Conduct smooth and unregimented transitions between activities. Children should not always be required to move from one activity to another as a group. Transitions as a vehicle for learning.

Every classroom schedule is required to have the following components:

  • Circle Times (Opening Circle, Language and Literacy, ABC)
  • Center times
  • Small group activities
  • Mealtimes (breakfast, lunch or snack)
  • Outside/ Physical Development
  • Music Time
  • Tooth brushing

Staff Qualifications:

Our classrooms have 3 teaching staff to a class size of 16-18 children. Each classroom is staffed with a Lead Teacher, Teacher Assistant, and Classroom Support Staff.

Lead Teachers are required to have teaching credentials at or above a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education or a related field. Teacher Assistants are required to have an Associate’s degree or a CDA (Child Development Accreditation). Classroom Support Staff are required to have a High School Diploma or GED. Teaching staff are also required to have 15 hours annually of professional training that links directly to classroom work.

Transition:

Our program has established a systematic process for transitioning children from home, another Pre-K or child care into Head Start, from one class or option to another within Head Start, from Head Start into another preschool setting and from Head Start into kindergarten.

It is important to engage parents and children from the beginning of the transition process starting with their first preschool experience to the transition into elementary school.

Individualization:

In order to maximize each child’s learning potential, each child will have individual goals based on current developmental abilities and individual zones of proximal development.  BCHS system for individualization is linked to processes of child screening and assessment that result in individualized plans for learning.

The process of gathering individual child information is begun on the Initial Teacher Home Visit through the parent interview and is recorded on the Child Profile Form for use in individual child planning.  This tool is updated by teachers throughout the year and is shared in subsequent contacts with parents.

Battelle Screenings are completed within 45 calendar days of enrollment. The Battelle Screening is an early childhood instrument based on the concepts of developmental milestones. As a child develops, he or she typically attains critical skills and behaviors sequentially from simple to complex. The screening helps measure a child's progress along a developmental continuum.

School Readiness


Blair County Head Start ensures our school readiness goals support the children’s development of the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for success in school and to engage parents as active partners in that process. Physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development are all essential ingredients of school readiness.

  • Head Start views school readiness as children possessing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success in school and for later learning and life.
  • Programs must establish school readiness goals that are appropriate for the ages and development of enrolled children in the following domains: Language and Literacy, Cognition, Approaches to Learning, Physical Health and Motor Development, Social and Emotional Development
  • Implementing and measuring progress toward school readiness goals helps programs individualize for each child and ensure that children know and can do what is needed to be ready for kindergarten.
  • Head Start respects parents as their children's primary nurturers, teachers, and advocates, and programs are required to consult with parents in establishing school readiness goals
  • As children transition to kindergarten, Head Start programs and schools should work together to promote school readiness and engage families.

Community Partnerships


Blair Senior Foster Grandparent Program

Foster grandparents are role models and mentors to children of all ages. Foster grandparents help children learn to read, provide one-on-one tutoring, and guide children at a critical time in their lives. They give the kind of comfort and love that sets a child on the path towards a successful future.

Local Colleges and Universities

This partnership allows college students to have a “hands-on” preschool classroom experience. The students gain knowledge about classroom management, behavior management, lesson implementation and planning developmentally appropriate lessons for young learners. The interns gaining a "real world" perspective on an occupation they planning to peruse.

Penn State C-COR

Our agency has partnered with Penn State University to a provide nutrition education to children and families. An educator teaches monthly lessons to the children about healthy foods and nutrition. The children have opportunities to taste a variety of new foods. Penn State utilizes the CATCH Early Childhood (CEC) curriculum. This curriculum is designed to nurture a love of physical activity, provide an introduction to classroom-based gardening and nutrition, and encourage healthy eating in children ages 3-5. Little ones are motivated to walk, run, jump, dance and move their whole bodies while playing and having fun.

High School Volunteers

Senior Students from local school district volunteer in our Head Start classrooms. This allows high school senior to experience working and interacting with young children and decide if this may be a career path they are interested in. The students will have opportunities read to children, interact with children one-on-one, guide play, and assist with group activities.

Frequently Asked Questions


1What does BCHS curriculum consist of?
  • Planning around children's interests, strengths and developmental needs
  • Regular observation and on-going educational assessment
  • Hands-on interactive learning
  • Language and literacy enrichment
  • A variety of materials and equipment
  • Safe, organized, child-friendly environment
  • Individualized programming
  • Sensory exploration
  • Problem solving
  • Adult support
  • Consistent daily routine
2Can I volunteer at Head Start Centers?
Yes, volunteers are critical to the success of Head Start. The participation of volunteers has been an effective way of mobilizing community resources to strengthen Head Start Services. As Head Start enrollment expands, the need for volunteers’ increases. Volunteers can be parents, professionals, local residents, and members of the larger community, board members and those who serve on policy and advisory groups. Head Start volunteers may choose to give a few hours of time, or may volunteer every week.
3How do I enroll my child?
You can start the Head Start enrollment process for your child by contacting our Recruitment Voicemail Line at 814-946-5247, ext. 225. This mailbox is monitored daily. Or, you may complete the pre-enrollment from on our website by clicking here. One of our staff will contact you to discuss the program and obtain more information from you to determine eligibility.
4Does my family qualify?
When a representative from Blair County Head Start calls you, they will review our program criteria with you to determine eligibility.
5Where are your centers located?
Blair County Head Start has locations across Blair County: Altoona, Tyrone, Hollidaysburg, Duncansville, Roaring Spring, Martinsburg, Claysburg, and Williamsburg. Click here to view our location map.
6What are the hours my child would attend Head Start?
Blair County Head Start offers several different program options from 3 ½ hour to 6 hour days. Classes are in session either four or five days per week. Classroom options vary by location.