Enrolling her two young children in Child Care Resource Center Head Start Birth to Five program came with a surprising benefit for Geneva Miranda, whose first language is Spanish.
She found that her children are supported in speaking both English and Spanish because their teacher is bilingual.
“At home, we only speak Spanish,” Geneva says. “I loved that the teachers nurtured both languages and said ‘it’s ok to speak Spanish, we understand you.’ I like that our culture is respected.”
Geneva enrolled her 2-year-old in Head Start at just 22 months old and started her now 3-year-old child when she was 20 months old. The program has opened a number of doors for her children.
“Just being there a few weeks, my oldest has picked up a lot of English,” Geneva says. “She will come home and say “good morning, mommy.” I couldn’t believe it! Learning to speak another language is happening so quick for her.”
Along with activities and lesson plans, Geneva received school supplies, toys, diapers, and items designed to engage her son’s sensory skills.
Even though the program has been virtual due to the pandemic, Geneva says the high level of quality has remained the same.
“The teachers have gone above and beyond with the activities kits and they have helped me personally,” Geneva says. “I feel the teachers are engaging with my child, sending supplies and activities and giving me instructions so I can be a good teacher. It helps my daughter with her social skills and I can spend more bonding time with her and get her to the level she needs to develop.”
Geneva’s son has experienced some challenges with speech and she says his teacher has not only provided her with helpful tips and exercises to improve his communication, but has helped her learn to be patient.
“She helps me understand it’s ok taking things slower,” Geneva says. “She always reassures me about what I’m doing.”
Through the Learning Genie app, which is utilized by Head Start, Geneva has shared with the teacher photos of her children doing activities like eating frozen yogurt or playing games. At first, Geneva was surprised to see the teacher actually responded to the photo. But now, she sees the responses as yet another example of the time and attention Head Start teachers provide.
“The teacher will respond directly to my daughter, interacting with my pictures and showing she cares,” Geneva says. “It’s a very personal relationship that makes us feel we are together even though it’s virtual.”
Seeing how the program has benefited her children and experiencing the support of their teachers has inspired Geneva to become a teacher, herself.
“It made me want to be part of early childhood education,” Geneva says. “Now I’m going to school and taking courses. I’ve been inspired by Head Start to focus my career on teaching.”
Head Start is actively enrolling new students. To be eligible for CCRC’s Head Start program, families must qualify under the Federal Income Poverty guidelines. Income requirements may be waived for special circumstance or disability, but must not exceed a specific amount.
Click here to apply for CCRC Head Start.