Meeting Head Start Educational Standards

Head Start Program Performance Standards

1304.21 – Education and Early Childhood Development

Child development and education approach for all children.

In order to help children gain the skills and confidence necessary to be prepared to succeed in their present environment and with later responsibilities in school and life, grantee and delegate agencies' approach to child development and education must:
  • Be developmentally and linguistically appropriate, recognizing that children have individual rates of development as well as individual interests, temperaments, languages, cultural backgrounds, and learning styles; Ramps and Pathways activities allow children to work at their own pace; do not require children to be verbal but encourages language development because children can talk about their ideas, what they have tried, etc.; and encourage creativity so that children can pursue their own interests and problems to solve.
  • Be inclusive of children with disabilities, consistent with their Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Program (IEP) (see 45 CFR 1308.19); Children with many different kinds of disabilities can work with Ramps and Pathways because children can pursue their own problems in a way that makes sense to them. Children can immediately observe the results of the object moving along the pathway and can work with the materials with varying complexity.
  • Provide an environment of acceptance that supports and respects gender, culture, language, ethnicity and family composition; Ramps and Pathways activities are engaging for all children. Girls as well as boys find them interesting and should be encouraged to build ramps. There is nothing inherently discriminatory about Ramps and Pathways – children are simply exploring the laws of physics, which is all around us.
  • Provide a balanced daily program of child-initiated and adult-directed activities, including individual and small group activities; Children can and should pursue their own problems to solve and teachers can support this by observing what children do and asking appropriate questions to stimulate children’s thinking. Children can work alone or collaboratively when constructing ramps.
Grantee and delegate agencies must provide for the development of each child's cognitive and language skills by:
  • Supporting each child's learning, using various strategies including experimentation, inquiry, observation, play and exploration; Ramps and Pathways activities provide opportunities for children to explore physical phenomena such as the principles summarized in Newton’s Laws. Children engage in the process of scientific inquiry as they make observations about what they are doing and the results, pose their own problems to solve, gather data, and explain their thinking. This aligns with the National Science Education Standards (Science as Inquiry Standards).
  • Ensuring opportunities for creative self-expression through activities such as art, music, movement, and dialogue; Constructing Ramps and Pathways is a creative process and children can express themselves creatively in the design of their structures.
  • Promoting interaction and language use among children and between children and adults; and Ramps and Pathways give children something to talk about as they make observations and become excited when their structure works as they intended. Teachers and children can engage in conversations about what they children are doing as well as children sharing ideas amongst one another.
  • Supporting emerging literacy and numeracy development through materials and activities according to the developmental level of each child. Children can view digital photographs of themselves working with Ramps and Pathways and dictate to the teacher their reflections on what they were doing. This process provides a model for children of the link between spoken and written language and children can read back their own words. Mathematical thinking is encouraged as children reason about spatial relationships as they build as well as observing similarities and differences amongst objects and how they move down the ramps (classification).
In center-based settings, grantee and delegate agencies must promote each child's physical development by:
  • Providing sufficient time, indoor and outdoor space, equipment, materials and adult guidance for active play and movement that support the development of gross motor skills; Children are most certainly active when building ramps. They build strength as they utilize unit blocks to build the foundation for the pathway. They also must be aware of how they navigate through space as they work around other children who are also building ramps.
  • Providing appropriate time, space, equipment, materials and adult guidance for the development of fine motor skills according to each child's developmental level; and Children must make many fine adjustments to their pathway as they troubleshoot a problem area in order to get it just right for the object to successfully continue down the ramp. They work carefully with the materials as they construct what are often fragile structures in order to keep from knocking them down.
  • Providing an appropriate environment and adult guidance for the participation of children with special needs. ALL children benefit from exploring Ramps and Pathways materials in all of the ways mentioned above.

Child development and education approach for preschoolers.

Grantee and delegate agencies, in collaboration with the parents, must implement a curriculum (see 45 CFR 1304.3(a)(5)) that:
  • Supports each child's individual pattern of development and learning; As mentioned previously, Ramps and Pathwyas activities allow children to work at their own pace and pursue their own interests and questions.
  • Provides for the development of cognitive skills by encouraging each child to organize his or her experiences, to understand concepts, and to develop age appropriate literacy, numeracy, reasoning, problem solving and decision-making skills which form a foundation for school readiness and later school success; Ramps and Pathways provide opportunities for children to make many observations and put those into relationships that become their early theories about how the world works. With continued experiences, they will refine their theories and begin to form a basis upon which later conceptual learning in science will be built.
  • Ensures that the program environment helps children develop emotional security and facility in social relationships; Children are presented with many opportunities to negotiate and engage in conflict resolution as they share common space and materials.
  • Enhances each child's understanding of self as an individual and as a member of a group; Children learn that they can have their own ideas and be confident in their ideas but also realize that others have ideas as well as they observe other children building ramps structures nearby. They can work individually implementing their own ideas or work in groups and see themselves as part of a team.
  • Provides each child with opportunities for success to help develop feelings of competence, self-esteem, and positive attitudes toward learning; and As children successfully build ramps structures of their own design, they develop confidence and become very excited about their accomplishments. They feel good about themselves, feel empowered to push themselves further, and view themselves as a scientist.
  • Provides individual and small group experiences both indoors and outdoors. Ramps can be done individually or in small groups of their children’s own choosing and can certainly be done indoors or outdoors.