The premise of Head Start is simple; Every child, regardless of circumstances at birth has the ability to reach their full potential.
Sometimes lessons come from the most unexpected places. It’s natural to associate early learning programs with the growth and development of children, but what about parents? That is my story.
My young life was spent between two impoverished homes, rife with addiction. Between my mother’s gambling habit and my father’s violent drug addiction, little regard was given to my education as a child. I dropped out of school in 10th grade and began to get into trouble myself. I was in and out of jail and couldn’t retain a job – much less grow a career. But after meeting my wife and having two daughters of my own, I realized I wanted something better for them. Head Start, an early childhood education program serving 60 Idaho communities, gave me the opportunity I needed to change the path I was on and help create the best future possible for my daughters.
Through Head Start, I learned that ages 0 to 5 are the most developmentally important years of a child’s life. Enormous linguistic, conceptual, social, emotional and motor competence skills are developed during this time. I also learned that children who go through quality early learning programs, like Head Start, are less likely to drop out of high school, be retained a grade or end up in a juvenile correction system. Early exposure to chronic stress, abuse or neglect can harm a child’s development and ability to learn. Not only does this expand the drastic difference in grades, comprehension and test scores, but it also translates into a widening range of income levels for Idaho.