Tag Archives: head start program


Back to School: Helpful Tips for Parents

Getting the new school year off to a good start can influence a child’s attitude, confidence and performance both socially and academically. The transition to school can be difficult for both children and parents. Even children who are eager to start school may need to make adjustments as they start the new year. The amount of adjustment is really dependent on the child, but parents can help their children manage the back-to-school transition by making the first day easier.

Here are a few ideas to help ease the transition back to school and promote a year full of successful school experiences:

Make sure that your child is physically healthy and ready to learn.

To start the year off right, make sure that your child is in good physical and mental health. Schedule doctor and dental checkups early so that you know your child is ready to begin school with a foundation of well being. Discuss any concerns you have over your child’s emotional or psychological development with your pediatrician. Your doctor can help determine if your concerns are normal, age-appropriate issues or require further assessment. Your child will benefit if you can identify and begin addressing a potential issue before school starts.

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Routines are essential

Plan to establish or re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines at least one week before school starts. Prepare your child for this change by talking with your child about the benefits of school routines in terms of not becoming overtired and being ready to have a great time at school. Bedtime reading is a great routine to start during the summer and to sustain as the school year begins.

Parents: Do your homework. 

You may have received information this summer from your child’s school. Make sure to review any material sent by the school as soon as it arrives. These packets may include important information about your child’s teacher, room number, school supply requirements, school calendar dates, bus transportation, health and emergency forms and volunteer opportunities within the school. 

Visit school with your child

Visiting the school with your child can help your child feel at ease with the upcoming school transition. Meeting the teacher, locating the classroom, lunchroom, etc., will help ease back to school worries and will also allow your child to ask questions about the new environment. Call ahead to your child’s school to identify what the system is for back-to-school campus visits.  Parents can make note of important back-to-school dates, especially orientation events. This is particularly important if you have children in more than one school and need to juggle obligations.

Maintain a positive perspective. 

If your child is anxious about school, send personal notes in the lunch box or backpack. Reinforce your child’s ability to cope with back-to-school transition. Be a model of optimism for your children so that they will emulate your confidence.

Plan to volunteer in the classroom.

Some parents can volunteer regularly and others less periodically throughout the year. Doing so helps your child understand that school and family life are linked and that you care about the learning experiences happening at school. Being in the classroom is also a good way to develop a relationship with your child’s teachers and classmates, and to get firsthand exposure to the classroom environment and routine. Teachers welcome parent help and involvement. 

white house

White House Honors ASU Alumnus As Champion Of Change

Arizona State University alumnus Angelica Vilaverde was honored as a Champion of Change at the White House on Monday. She is one of 11 individuals from Head Start programs across the country who earned the honor.

Honorees were commended for their commitment to delivering on the promise of Head Start, a comprehensive early childhood development program designed to provide education, health and social services to low income children and their families.

“Today’s Head Start Champions of Change have collectively shaped the lives of thousands of children and their families,” said Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy. “Each day, these Champions work to innovate and forge new paths to deliver the support that our most vulnerable children and families need to reach their full potential and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. This work is essential in helping our country win the future.”

While participating in a panel discussion with other Champion of Change honorees at the White House, Vilaverde cited the parent-child relationship and early education as significant indicators of children’s success. Parents that she works with represent many nationalities from Somali and Burmese refugee families to children whose first language is Spanish.

“You can’t build a house without a foundation. I feel as a teacher that we are providing that foundation for them to go on their educational journey,” she said.

Vilaverde, who earned her master’s degree in infant-family practice and her bachelor’s degree in family and human development from Arizona State University, is an Early Head Start child development specialist who works at Southwest Human Development Early Head Start and Head Start located at the Educare Arizona facility in Phoenix. She teaches children ranging in ages from 1 to 3. Involving parents in their children’s education is an important aspect of her work as is reaching goals for each child that may range from increasing vocabulary to answering specific questions.

“Angelica is truly a gifted and sensitive teacher of very young children. She is a wonderful example of the knowledge and skills that we hope the graduates of our Master of Advanced Study in Infant-Family Practice undergraduate Early Intervention Certificate acquire during their time with us,” said Robert Weigand, Angelica’s mentor, Child Development Laboratory director and Cowden Distinguished Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Family Dynamics at ASU.

Vilaverde is hoping for an expansion of Head Start in the future and for more leaders to recognize the importance and value of early childhood education.

“I think Head Start is a wonderful program because it really invests in these children to make them successful and school ready,” she said.

During the panel discussion at the White House, she also mentioned that her proudest moment was encouraging the mother of one of her students from Mexico with a degree in psychology to pursue her dreams even though the mom wasn’t confident of her English skills.

“Now she is a child development associate at one of our other sites,” Vilaverde said.

Learning that she had been named a Champion of Change was a “complete shock,” but she was excited and honored to have the opportunity to go to the White House.

“I’m glad that the Obama administration is recognizing teachers for the work that they do,” she said.

The Champions of Change program was created as part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.

For more information about the Champion of Change event at the White House, visit the White House’s website at whitehouse.gov/champions