Spring into Education: Families get a head start on school

Parents and families gather for a "Spring into Education Community Fair"
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Parents and teachers gathered outside the Grand Mesa Center on North Ave today for a “Spring into Education Fair” put on by the Rocky Mountain Service Employment Development Head Start Programs.
The fair offered food, face painting, games and booths with more information about Mesa County companies and the Head Start program.

Head Start is a federally funded program that works with low income families to provide their children with learning opportunities and preparation for kindergarten. Teachers and Students use a creative curriculum that helps kids grow academically, socially and emotionally.

"We help them learn their colors and their shapes and social and emotional skills so that when they do get to kindergarten, they know exactly what they should be doing and that they are there for the purpose of learning," Migrant Head Start Manager Daisy Thomson said.

In the classroom, students work on art projects, language and cognitive development, math and early reading skills. The program also has a number of Family Advocates that work directly with parents to address other problems and preparation for elementary school.

"It just gives them opportunities that they may not have because our parents are low income and they usually can't afford a program like this," Head Start Teacher Dena Haag said.

Grand Junctions program has two teachers per classroom to work with students. During the government shutdown in October the teachers continued to work on a volunteer basis without knowing when or if their pay would return.

"I like when the light goes off in their eyes and you see that they've learned and they've coped and they have adjusted because sometimes when they come into our program at three years old they are shy and quiet and have never been around strangers," Haag said.

There were also about 12 Mesa County companies at the fair today showing their support and giving out more information. Head Start is encouraging families to enroll for the 2014-2015 school year as soon as possible.

"Kids are our future and if we can't give them the education they need from day one... we are just setting our children up for failure," Thomson said.

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