Marble Falls, Burnet, Kingsland, Llano, Spicewood, Horseshoe Bay, and ALL of the Highland Lakes
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Head Start and Early Head Start teachers such as Miranda Vasquez, shown playing catch with Anthony O’Campo while Edward Calvery and Jasmine Aguilar play, make a difference in children’s lives through innovative and proven strategies. The program is celebrating 50 years in 2021. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
Opportunities for Williamson and Burnet Counties is celebrating 50 years of the Week of the Young Child now through Friday, April 16.
OWBC operates Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Burnet County, which serve ages 5 years and younger.
As part of the celebration, organizers are using daily themes and inviting youngsters and their families to enjoy activities together. It’s also a chance to shine a spotlight on the Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
One big misconception about Head Start, which is for ages 3-5, and Early Head Start, for ages 0-2, is that staff are “just babysitters,” said Aletha Laterza, Marble Falls center director.
Or, that the two services are daycares, said Trina Howell, Highland Lakes Center director in Granite Shoals. Howell was also a Head Start student herself.
“I think we’re a step above daycare,” she said. “We strive for parent involvement and support in the classroom and at home. I feel like we’re more involved in our approach and in our questioning.”
That includes testing a child to discover what they already know and what they can learn. Family advocates help set goals for each child and their family to ensure they are on pace to learn, said Tanya Graham, OWBC Family and Community Engagement coordinator.
“We go alongside with the family,” she said. “If they haven’t been in class, we help them get back into the school.”
Parent Jeni Chapman said her own child “has a lot of emotional trauma” and enrolling at Head Start has a made a big difference for the entire family.
“At daycare, they didn’t have the training,” she said. “When I came here, there’s a difference. Jen loves her teacher, and she’s excited to see her. (The teacher’s) training is a huge difference.”
During the Week of the Young Child, daily themes are:
Together Wednesday, which encourages families to “grab some materials and create” any building such as forts, hideaways, or other “homes;”
Artsy Thursday, which asks families to explore their artsy side;
and Family Friday, when families can do something together such as a talent show or an art projects or just go through a photo album and talk about the people in the pictures.
In addition to the celebration, Opportunities for Williamson and Burnet Counties is conducting an online fundraiser that allows people to purchase products for the campuses in Burnet, Marble Falls, and Granite Shoals to enhance the educational experiences of the students
Early Head Start and Head Start are accepting enrollment applications now.