Capital Area Community Action Agency Head Start strives to ensure that each four year old transitioning to kindergarten is prepared for a successful educational experience. We seek to provide a comprehensive child development program that addresses the needs of the whole child.
A scientifically based curriculum and assessment tools are used to ensure the children are progressing and will be ready for Kindergarten. Teachers plan learning experiences and environments, and use teaching strategies in a thoughtful and intentional way to support and extend children’s knowledge. They work on organizing children’s learning so that experiences build on one another helping each child to acquire key ideas and skills. Children are seen as individuals, and the setting and strategies adapt to the individual levels and interests of the children.
The teaching teams build children’s approaches to learning throughout the program day and across planned and spontaneous experiences. Curriculum activities and experiences are planned in the areas of language and literacy, cognition and general knowledge, approaches toward learning, physical well-being and motor development, and social emotional development each day. This process allows the staff to customize curriculum to facilitate each child’s optimal development.
The curriculum implemented in COMMUNITY ACTION is Creative Curriculum published by Teaching Strategies, Inc. Creative Curriculum draws on research from over 100 scientific studies and is considered an evidence-based developmentally appropriate approach by the State of Florida, Office of Head Start, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Creative Curriculum is comprehensive and provides both early education knowledge and daily practice resources in tandem, giving every teacher the “what,” “why” and “how” of early childhood education. In addition, Creative Curriculum supports individualized instruction, helping teachers meet the needs of every type of learner, and addresses all the important areas of learning, from social-emotional and math to technology and the arts, and incorporates them throughout every part of every day.
For additional information about Creative curriculum visit http://teachingstrategies.com/curriculum/.
Screenings and Assessments
Upon entry into the Head Start program, each child receives required screenings to confirm that he or she is in good health and is developing well. This is the initial determination of the child’s overall health status, developmental strengths, needs, and areas of identified concern such as possible delay or disability (i.e., Speech, Language, Behavior, and Cognitive).
Children are assessed using Teaching Strategies Gold (TSG), which is inclusive of children with disabilities, children who are English-language learners and children who demonstrate competencies outside of typical developmental expectations. Children’s developmental progress is assessed in September, January, and May. The first assessment occurs within 45 days of program enrollment to establish a baseline level of development and to establish an individualized learning plan. Teachers review a child’s assessment data in conjunction with observation and performance based assessments to create a picture of the whole child.
As part of the Teaching Strategies GOLD online assessment tool parents can access their child’s assessment and classroom lesson plans by logging into their individual family portal. To visit your portal visit https://gold.teachingstrategies.com/gold/parents/.
School Readiness Goals
COMMUNITY ACTION supports child and family development through a comprehensive School Readiness Plan that encompasses school readiness activities, policies and procedures, alignment of school readiness goals with the HS Child Development and Early Learning Framework and the Florida School Readiness Performance Standards for Three-, Four-, and Five-Year-Old Children, which are aligned with the expectations of local education agencies. The COMMUNITY ACTION School Readiness Plan includes child assessment, analysis of individual child progress through assessment data and program information, family engagement in their child’s education, and service area collaboration to ensure children achieve the academic gains necessary for successful transition to kindergarten.
School Readiness Goals articulate program expectations regarding child progress across the five essential domains of child development and early learning. School Readiness Goals are set in the HS essential domains with key focus areas defined for each domain.
The School Readiness Goals are culturally and linguistically appropriate and support the health and learning of children as they enter the program and transition into kindergarten. Each goal is defined using objectives that are aligned to recognized stages of child development which enables the goal to apply to children at differing levels of development. To develop these goals, the Early Childhood Manager collaborated with the Education Advisory Committee. A School Readiness Committee that included members from the parent policy council and representatives from our local schools was also formed to review the goals and revised School Readiness plan. This group also periodically recommends updates and revisions.
Measurement of school readiness goals is conducted by aggregating and analyzing child-level data related to the achievement of each goal. This is done in order to assess and direct continuous program improvements related to the curriculum, teacher practice and interactions, professional development, and program design. Progress is analyzed using reports of children’s assessments, child observation data, mental health observations, and student planner and portfolios three times annually. Data is analyzed at the beginning, mid-point, and end of the school year.
All Head Start teachers have a degree in early childhood education or a related field. All assistant teachers have either a college degree in Early Childhood Education or a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification. All Head Start staff has experience and has received training in early childhood education and human services.
The Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program (VPK) is a legislatively mandated program designed to prepare Florida’s four-year-olds for kindergarten and builds the foundation for their educational success. Participation is free for all four-year-olds born on or before September 1st of each year who are Florida Residents. We provide VPK in all seven centers.
To apply for your child to be part of the Florida Vountary Pre Kindergarten program visit https://vpkcp.floridaearlylearning.com/.