On Wednesday, September 13, the Council officially announced it is transforming all of the sites where we offer Head Start services. Now, when you drive by our locations, instead of seeing a sign that says “Child Development Center” you will now see a sign that says “The Prep Academy.”
In order to understand The Prep Academy it may be helpful to have a quick refresher about the purpose and impact of Head Start.
Head Start is a comprehensive early childhood education program for young children, ages birth through five, and their families, including pregnant women. All of our Head Start programs provide a stimulating and culturally appropriate learning environment, using an evidence-based curriculum that will prepare them to be successful in school and later in life. The first five years of a child’s life are vitally important. Research indicates that a high quality early childhood education can positively impact things like school retention and graduation rates; decreased need for special education services; college enrollment and attendance; and employment, including higher life time earnings. It has been our privilege to prepare thousands of children and families for success since our Head Start program first opened its doors in 1965.
So, what is The Prep Academy?
While we believe the name change is important in its own right, for communicating to the wider public what we stand for, each Prep Academy represents much more than just a name change. It is our goal that “The Prep Academy” will give the community a better picture of what we do in Head Start and to more readily understand the impact our high quality early childhood education has on children, families, and communities.
Our Prep Academies will contain state-of the art enhancements for supporting early childhood education. They will have the newest technology: smartboards for the teachers to use to engage the children; touch-screen tablets for interactive learning; and, innovative digital learning tools developed by leaders in early childhood education.
Our Prep Academies will also contain more materials to reflect the linguistic and cultural diversity of our families. Our classroom environments are welcoming to all children and must help them grow up in an inclusive society.
Our Prep Academies will also include enhancements to the playgrounds and outdoor spaces. Having access to outdoor play space promotes habits of healthy physical activity and is important for motor skill development. It also helps young children to increase their sense of cooperation and autonomy.
Our Prep Academies will continue our legacy of increasing these and a variety of other competencies in young children. Some other competencies include: critical and expressive thinking skills; self-confidence; mathematical competencies; problem solving; scientific investigations and experimentation; creativity, and social and emotional competence.
In short, our Prep Academies will serve as a rich foundation which will help prepare children to be successful in any of their next learning environments.