October 8, 2013
The Long Road Home
A Capital Area Early Head Start (EHS) family moved from Nepal to the United States in August 2010 and relocated to Harrisburg last spring.
Pushpa Gurung reported feeling totally lost when they arrived in Harrisburg. The family didn’t know many people. They were unfamiliar with the area. They were living with relatives, were unemployed, and unable to drive. The family’s infant daughter, Prativa, was enrolled in EHS sixteen days after moving the Harrisburg. Soon after her daughter’s enrollment, Pushpa was elected as the Policy Council (PC) Representative for her center and began attending monthly meetings with other parents at the Head Start main office. She was initially very worried about being the PC representative but ended up really enjoying the role. Her husband soon found employment at Fresh Express as a jet printer operator. Pushpa said she began to connect with people and other parents who were like her, and began to feel like she wasn’t alone anymore.
Pushpa was very worried about her four-year-old son, Prithivi, who wasn’t in the program at the time. Prithivi wasn’t speaking any English, didn’t get to socialize with children aside from his sister, and was always around older people. He began attending the center’s Family Day with his sister and mother. He was very shy and cautious of his surroundings. One of the EHS staff began to engage him in play. He didn’t seem very interested in anything until the staff member asked him if he wanted to go to the art area. She sat with him for quite some time and was absolutely amazed at the detailed pictures he was drawing. Prithivi only said two words the entire time he sat with her, but he clearly understood what was said to him.
The Home Visitor has continued to support this family by helping them obtain food stamps and medical insurance, as well as helping them enroll Prithivi in a Head Start center-based program. The Gurungs are achieving their goals. This year, Pushpa was elected to the Policy Council Executive Committee. She reports that Prithivi is learning a lot more English. He is now “reading” books to his baby sister.
Technology on the Move in our Classrooms
Beginning in October, teachers will be receiving training on how to use iPads as a teaching tool in the classroom. iPads and appropriate apps were purchased to enhance children’s learning and ability to use technology. In 2012, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College released a joint position statement on technology and interactive media as tools in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. The position statement reflects the ever-changing digital age and provides guidance for early childhood educators about the use of technology and interactive media in ways that can optimize opportunities for young children’s cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and linguistic development. The position statement states that technology and interactive media are tools that can promote effective learning and development when they are used intentionally by early childhood educators, within the framework of developmentally appropriate practice to support learning goals established for individual children.
Public Broadcasting’s Ready to Learn initiative suggests that when electronic resources have been carefully designed to incorporate what is known about effective instruction, they serve as positive and powerful tools for teaching and learning. Capital Area Head Start staff will receive training on the evaluation of educational content and strategies for facilitating children’s use of technology. We believe that the impact of technology is mediated by teachers’ use of the same developmentally appropriate principles and practices that guide the use of print materials and all other learning tools and content for young children.
Through the use of digital media, Capital Area Head Start children can develop persistence, focused attention, hand-eye coordination, concepts of print, comprehension of language, and the ability to follow directions and use critical thinking skills. All of these skills were identified in Capital Area Head Start’s School Readiness Goals. We are excited to have the opportunity to expose the children in our program to using digital media to enhance the learning experiences already provided in our classrooms.