At home and in school, children learn through play and experiences, as well as interactions and conversations with other children and adults. Talking with your children and asking open-ended questions can be fun for everyone. Encourage your child to think more deeply and develop his or her reasoning skills with questions such as “How do you think you could solve this?”, “What would happen if…?”, “Why do you think it works this way?”, and “How does that happen?” Even babies can benefit from beginning to hear these types of open-ended questions.
Remember that each child is unique and grows, develops, and learns at their own pace. Choose experiences and materials that match your child’s abilities and interests. Enjoy these ideas with your child as you continue in your role as your child’s first and most important teacher. Have fun!
Find a location near you.
(Full year – pregnant women and children ages birth to 3 years)
Early Head Start is held within families’ homes in Harrisburg City and suburban Harrisburg, PA, as well as Carlisle, PA.
Family Days are held at the following locations:
(5 hour days/week, school year – ages 3–5)
(Five 6.25-hour days/week, school year – ages 3–5)
(Five 4.5-hour days/week, school year – ages 3–5)
The Early Learning GPS is a great interactive online tool to guide families through their child’s growth and development.
To get started, simply answer 10 questions about your young child. There are no wrong answers to these questions. Then you can watch video tips and access other reliable resources about your child’s early learning.
Get started with the Early Learning GPS
The Early Learning GPS was developed by Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children in partnership with Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning.
How Children Show Trust
When you talk to and respond to infants and toddlers in consistent ways, they learn to trust the adults around them and learn their world is safe and predictable. This trust shapes their relationships throughout their lives.
Respond to your infant’s cries. Hold and snuggle your infant.
Play hide and seek or peek-a-boo. Talk to your infant, even from another room or from across the room.
Respond to your toddler’s need for comfort. Remove things that scare your toddler. Allow your child to explore himself in a mirror.
Follow your child’s lead. Practice daily routines – bedtime, tooth brushing, baths. Help your child wash his hands.
Allow extra time for your child to dress himself. Encourage your child’s individuality. Enjoy what your child can do well!
How Children Express Who They Are
Infants and toddlers learn who they are and how to express their individuality from a very early age. Families’ beliefs and practices and values establish the child’s sense of themselves.
As you talk to your infant during changing and feeding, talk about the feelings they are expressing. (You are so hungry. You are so happy today. You don’t like feeling wet, but you’ll be dry and comfy soon)
Respond to your infant’s smile with a smile and a happy voice. 8-18 months Label your child’s feelings. “You are happy.” Hold, read, sing to your child daily. Laugh and smile at your child.
Calm your toddler by picking her up, touching, talking to her.
Show your toddler you are aware of her feelings. Remind her to use words to express her feelings.
How Children Act Around Other Children
Children are very interested in other children from the time they are very young infants. Their relationships with other children and adults are shaped by their personality and experiences.
Look into your infant’s eyes when feeding, talking, changing, playing with her. Talk about what will happen next.
Pick your baby up when they lift their arms to you. Talk about what you can both see as you look around.
Label your child’s feelings. “You are happy.” Hold, read, sing to your child daily. Laugh and smile at your child.
Listen and respond to your toddler’s “stories.” Encourage them in conversations with you.
Provide opportunities for your toddler to play with other children at the park, Head Start, or with friends.
How Children Understand and Communicate
Infants learn to understand what is said to them and learn how to give messages. Babies communicate by smiling, crying, cooing, babbling, and moving their bodies. Learning language is a natural process that develops as children listen to those around them. Language skills vary a great deal from child to child. Some speak early, some speak later. They begin to look at and explore books and are interested in stories, songs, and other language.
Talk to your infant as you feed and change him. Imitate his cooing and movements.
Direct your infant to notice things. “Look, there’s Daddy. You found Daddy.” Use gestures along with words. Nod your head and say “yes.”
Talk out loud to your baby throughout the day. Use words to describe what he is doing. Use new words over and over. Point to things or pictures in books and talk about them. Combine easy words like “bye-bye” with words and gestures.
Give simple two-part directions. Use words that describe things or express action. Allow your child to choose books to read. Read them over and over. Ask simple questions. Encourage him to sing songs or chant with you.
Ask your child to tell you where something is, who someone is, and talk about what happened. Repeat the correct form of an incorrectly pronounced word or incorrect sentence but do not correct the child’s speech. Ask questions as you read books together.
How Children Explore and Figure Things Out
Infants and toddlers learn about their world as they explore by looking at, touching, tasting, listening to, and feeling everything around them. They learn how things work and how to solve problems.
Encourage your baby to touch and play with her bottle or toys. Talk to your baby about things in their world.
Move things back and forth for your baby to watch. Provide chances for your baby to find, grasp, and hold things.
Play turn-taking games. Provide toys and experiences that encourage your baby to solve problems. Hide toys for your baby to find.
Have toys your child can use to move or make sounds. Keep toys at a special place. Ask the child to get them or put them away. Count things. Name things.
Talk about matching and match socks, toys, other objects. Point to and talk about small details in books. Play hiding games with people or objects.
How Children Move Their Bodies and Use Their Hands
Infants and toddlers gain more control over their arms and hands and legs and feet as they mature. They need safe places to move freely and practice all these new movements.
Play pat-a-cake or this little piggy or other word games while gently touching your baby. Allow her to move her legs and arms freely. Place a rattle or toy in her hand.
Change your baby’s position frequently throughout the day. Provide time for the infant to be held in a sitting position. Rock your baby.
Sing simple songs and move your baby with the music. Provide balls and other soft objects to throw. Make your home safe to explore.
Have riding toys, balls to kick. Jump with your child. Have materials they can hold and use to draw. Dance with your child to music.
Have toys for catching and throwing. Put measuring cups and toys in the bathtub. Walk backward, tiptoe, stand on one foot together.
These activities are based on the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (HSELOF), Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards, and the High Scope Approach.
By working and playing with other children and with adults, a child develops important social skills that will be with them throughout their life. Young children watch others, imitate them, and want to play and talk and learn about themselves and others. How a child relates to adults and other children, asks for help, and how they understand and express their feelings are important. Children’s feelings about themselves are also very important. Children first learn about their own family. From there, they learn about their school, neighborhood, the larger world, different jobs, where people live, reasons why rules are needed, and how people get along and live together.
All children need to feel secure, comfortable and successful about learning. Each child learns in their own way. Adults can help support them by closely watching to help discover a child’s learning style. Children need to be encouraged to try new things, solve problems, and to be persistent in their activities and projects.
From the time children are born, their ability to learn language is amazing. They listen, make sounds, and begin to speak. Young children need lots of experiences with language in their everyday life and in their play. They need to talk with you and to have you listen carefully. Language development involves listening to and understanding speech, using new words, and knowing that letters make sounds in words.
Literacy involves children knowing about and enjoying books, knowing that letters and words have meaning, using letter names, understanding that writing things has a purpose, and beginning to write by using letter-like shapes, symbols, or actual letters.
Young children learn math by playing and working with real objects. They learn about size, quantity, patterns, measurement, time, space, and shapes as they play with objects.
Children use all their senses, as well as trial and error, to observe, explore, experiment, investigate, compare, classify, predict, question, and look for answers as they play with objects. Science involves the properties of things (soft, hard, wet, dry), studying nature and living things, thinking about how things change and move, gathering information and making conclusions.
The arts include dancing, music, dramatic play, and art. All children should have opportunities to use and enjoy the arts. Current research shows a direct connection between the arts and higher levels of thinking and learning.
Young children develop important physical abilities which are supported by active indoor and outdoor play. Children need chances to exercise all their muscles (their large muscles like arms and legs and their small muscles like their fingers and hands). It is especially important to know that physical movement helps brain development and learning, and young children need to move and handle actual things to learn. Children need health and safety experiences to learn about personal health and safety and promote healthy lifestyles. They need to learn how to take care of themselves and rely on themselves.
Comprehensive services, which include health, nutrition, social, and other services determined to be necessary by family needs assessments, in addition to education and cognitive development services
The Head Start Impact Study and the Pre-Kindergarten follow-up study provide data supporting the importance of providing services from birth to five.
CAHS primarily uses Federal and State dollars to fund operations. View our Annual Accomplishments for more information about our funding.
Head Start programs are available in 65 counties in Pennsylvania. More information is available from the Pennsylvania Head Start Association.
There are Head Start programs in all 50 states in the United States. More information is available from the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center.
Income guidelines. CAHS follows the poverty guidelines. CAHS accepts over-income families only when there are no income-eligible families available.
Age. Early Head Start accepts pregnant women and children ages birth to three. Head Start accepts children ages three to five.
Residency. Residency requirements may apply to certain sites.
Interest. CAHS is looking for children and families who are interested in participating in the program, ensuring their children get to school every day, and/or participating in home visits.
We have enrollment specialists prepared to answer all your enrollment questions. They can perform enrollments over the telephone, where you are placed on a waiting list until a suitable space is available. You can reach the enrollment specialists at 717-541-1795. Learn more.
CAHS promotes positive parent self-esteem and develops leadership skills.
“The Head Start staff really takes an interest in not only my child but also my family and we really appreciate their concern.” “Good Job!” “Well Done!” “My child is much more confident.” “We are extremely pleased with our child’s progress and the overall professionalism of the staff.” “Capital Area Head Start helped our family focus on positive behaviors and the behavioral process.”
Employs approximately 260 staff
Employment opportunities with Capital Area Head Start are available through Keystone Human Services.
Schedule a Head Start speaker at your community or church group.