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El Paso's Region 19 Head Start goes WILD!

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.





 Educators at ESC Region 19 Head Start have come to appreciate the Growing Up WILD curriculum and what it accomplishes for the students, by keeping them interested and engaged in their daily activities. Most importantly, Ramona and the Head Start teachers believe that Growing Up WILD is helping to prepare these young children to enter kindergarten, which is a central goal of Head Start. With tools to prepare children emotionally and intellectually for school, Growing Up WILD supports Head Start’s programs aimed at producing healthy children prepared to enter kindergarten ready to succeed. For these reasons ESC Region 19 in El Paso will continue to use the Growing Up WILD curriculum into the foreseeable future. Because of Head Start’s dedicated teachers and invested parents, Growing Up WILD will continue to engage young learners and help them to succeed in school.   




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