Education Service Center (ESC) Region 19 Head Start fulfills the needs of low-income families in El Paso, Texas by providing child development and family support programs, but within the past year they have added an additional component to their long list of services: the Growing Up WILD curriculum. Head Start, a federally funded organization, is facilitated by local non-profits in cities all throughout the country. El Paso is home to the third largest Head Start program in Texas, serving more than 4,000 infants, toddlers, preschool children, and expectant mothers. They offer a variety of services, catering to the mental, social, physical, educational, developmental, and nutritional needs of young children and their parents.
Growing Up WILD was implemented in all of Region 19’s 145 Head Start classrooms beginning in September of 2011. Earlier four Head Start trainers had attended a Growing Up WILD Facilitator training, later moving on to provide training for all 300 Head Start educators. The teachers have many positive views on Growing Up WILD: the curriculum is supportive of children’s learning, easy to follow, and enjoyable to teach.
Ramona Huffman, Education Program Manager for ESC Region 19 Head Start, says that the feature teachers most often praise about Growing Up WILD is that the activities can be implemented in many areas, not only math and science but also nutrition, art, and literacy. “The teachers lead the children in songs from the guide because it helps them develop their vocabulary,” Ramona says. Of all the components in the guide book, the teachers utilize the songs most often, though they use some part of the curriculum every day.