Getting Back to Basics

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Head Start, I think about how Head Start began – and it’s evolution over the years.  It’s important that Head Start staff is familiar with the history of Head Start – as well as its mission, vision and guiding principles.  Understanding the purpose and intent of Head Start provides staff with valuable information – and perspective – as they go about their daily work.

As we all know, Head Start has a language of its own.  It’s critical that all staff is familiar with the basics of Head Start – the Performance Standards, the content areas, self-assessment, community assessment and ongoing monitoring, just to name a few.  It’s important to understand that everything we do is to ensure that children are school-ready and that families are fully engaged and become self-sufficient.  It’s also crucial to understand the importance of accountability – having systems in place and staying Review-ready. These are all functions that are important, not just because we’re required to be in full compliance, but because they are best practices for people working with children and families.

Staff often talk about how much work Head Start is.  It’s true – it is.  But it’s also very rewarding.  The joy that teachers experience when a child learns something because of their efforts… the joy that family services workers feel from linking families to needed services… the joy that we all feel from knowing that we’re making a difference in the lives of children and families – these are the rewards.

Looking for training on “Head Start 101: Getting Back to Basics”?  Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

The Life of a New Head Start Director

Are you a new Head Start or Early Head Start Director?  Let me offer you my congratulations! This is a wonderful opportunity and, as I’m sure you’ve already found out, the beginning of an exciting journey.

As a Head Start Director, you are responsible for ensuring that the children and families receive high quality services, that your program is fully compliant with all regulations, and that you provide great leadership to your staff.  I know what you’re saying…….. I have a million things on my to-do list… so many things to address.  Where do I start?

We’ve found that there are 3 key areas for Head Start Directors to focus on:

  • Build relationships.  Having good working relationships is key.  Take time to build relationships with the staff – the staff at your office and the staff at the centers.  Get to know your Policy Council and Board members.  Reach out to your community – to other service providers.  And establish a good relationship with your Program Specialist.
  • Plan well and create systems.  Good planning is essential in Head Start.  Whether you’re designing training for your staff or preparing for a successful Federal Review, plan with your key stakeholders.  And be sure that the planning consists of setting up systems in your program – spelled out in your policies and procedures manual.
  • Provide strong leadership.  One of your most important roles is to provide great leadership to your staff.  Share your vision with the staff – and the critical role that the staff plays in your vision.  Make strategic planning a priority – set goals and monitor the progress frequently.  Communicate your expectations and provide staff with feedback and support.

Looking for “New Head Start Director Training: The Keys to Head Start”?  Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Essential Tips: Creating Impactful Training for Your Staff

Tip #1: Take time to recognize staff accomplishments and program successes

Even though training days are always busy, it’s important to take time to acknowledge successes and achievements in your program – and the role that staff played in it. Also recognize staff’s accomplishments – getting a degree, learning a new skill or reaching a goal. There’s always enough time to recognize the people who are serving our children and families.

Tip #2: Use a combination of training techniques to engage all types of learners.

Since everyone absorbs information differently, it’s critical to present information in a variety of training styles. We find that the most successful technique is a combination – presenting the new information followed by a practical experience. Begin by sharing the information via lecture and a powerpoint presentation. Follow it up with a high level of interaction – lively discussion and hands-on activities for participants to “experience” the new information and put it into practice.

Tip #3: Follow up pre-service training with regular training opportunities throughout the year.

People take in new information a little at a time. Instead of presenting a lot of new information at once, create multiple training opportunities for staff. Create a comprehensive, layered plan to provide training to staff throughout the year – once a month if you can. Lay a foundation of learning and then build on it – a little at a time.

Interested in impactful training for your staff? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at