Education

Education services are provided through daily classroom experiences that are intentionally planned to develop skills that are important for success in kindergarten. Children learn best through active learning experiences that have a purpose and are meaningful to them. Teachers make observations daily to plan for and guide children based on their individual needs.

Classrooms are arranged to offer multiple opportunities for children to explore, discover, and grow. The classroom is set up in learning areas. The daily schedule and routines are established to structure the day. The goal is to create a classroom community where children learn how to get along with others, solve problems peacefully and learn the academic skills they need to be successful in school.

Family & Community

Family Services Support staff recruit and enroll families into all Early Childhood Programs including Head Start, Early Head Start, Even Start and Voluntary Prekindergarten.

All families have wishes and dreams for themselves and their family members. The Family and Community staff work with each family individually to express and reach these goals. This partnership may include:

  • assisting families connect with community resources
  • training on topics requested by parents including discipline, nutrition, and budgeting
  • connect families with community services including job fairs, English and GED classes, child care providers

Disabilities

Children with disabilities make up at least 10% of enrollment and must meet specific eligibility criteria. We believe all children are special and have unique ways of learning. Because of this belief, children with disabilities are a welcome part of our Early Head Start and Head Start Programs.

Children younger than three:

  • Must have an Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP) to qualify as a child with a disability
  • May receive services in a center based or homebased program depending on where they live

Children ages three to five:

  • Must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to qualify as a child with a disability
  • Are often referred to Head Start by the Lee County School District's Exceptional Student education (ESE) Department

Specialists in the areas of child development, curriculum, and disabilities work together with parents and teachers to make sure that all children grow, play, and learn together.

Mental Health

Mental Health and Wellness Services are provided to Early Head Start and Head Start children. These services support positive social emotional growth for young children and their families.  By engaging parents in program services, they are provided many opportunities to learn about mental and behavioral health.  A strong foundation of social and emotional skills will prepare children for school readiness.

Mental Health and Wellness Services include:

  • General classroom observations
  • Conscious Discipline and Second Step program training and consultation
  • Counseling and/or social skills groups
  • Parenting classes
  • Consultation with parents, guardians and staff
  • Short term family counseling
  • Referrals to community agencies
  • Information provided to families as appropriate
  • Staff training and wellness

Health Services

Three registered nurses who are the health specialists, oversee the Health and Dental needs of all enrolled children. The health specialists are available for any questions, concerns, or needs about your child’s health plan. If you need help, call 239-332-2512 to speak to a nurse.

The health specialists will communicate with parents in a variety of ways:

  • to inform parents if a health problem is identified
  • to share the results of children's screenings (vision, height, weight, speech, and hearing)
  • to provide articles on nutrition, dental health and other topics in the monthly Parent Involvement Press
  • to share at parent meetings in the classrooms
  • to provide reminders of children's upcoming physicals or shots
  • to provide other health information parents request

Vision

All children are screened for vision within the first 45 days of school beginning. This is just a screening and not a complete eye exam. This screening may be repeated if necessary. If your child is having any difficulty, the nurse will complete a vision referral and send it home. However, it best for your child to begin school with a vision exam completed by an eye care physician.. The nurses will assist you in this process. The nurses' name and phone number are listed on the referral if you should have any questions.

Speech and Language Screening

As part of the screening process, children in the Head Start classrooms will have a speech and language screening within the first 45 days of school. The screening will look at how the sounds that make up words are formed and the use of words to talk. If concerns are found, children are referred to the speech therapist at the school for a closer look.

Hearing Screenings

Children in Head Start classrooms will have a hearing screening prior to the first 45 days of school by the Head Start staff. If children fail the screening, they will be re-screened at a later date. If children are unable to pass this second screening, they will be referred to their doctor for a medical hearing check-up.

Height and Weight

All children’s heights and weights are measured prior to the first 45 days of school.  This is to monitor their physical growth and development.  As you may have heard, the Surgeon General says that there is an “Obesity Epidemic” in America .  The research shows that overweight children often end up being overweight adults. The risk of hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease is much greater for overweight adults.  

Nutrition

Your child will receive a nutritious breakfast and lunch during the school day.  All meals served are low in fat, sugar and sodium (salt) and served family style.  Monthly menus are made available and a copy of the menu is posted in your child’s classroom.  Parents are not permitted to bring any food, (home-made or store bought), into the classroom (this includes for birthdays and holiday celebrations).  If your child has any food allergies or requires a medically prescribed diet, restrictions and/or supplements, please contact the Health Specialist assigned to your child’s classroom.  Paperwork from your child’s doctor will be required for these special nutritional needs.

Dental Services

Good tooth care can protect your child’s precious smile! Tooth decay is the most common disease in children in the United States and it can easily be prevented. By encouraging good tooth-care habits now, you can help your child have healthy teeth for a lifetime. PARENTS PLAY A KEY ROLE IN HELPING YOUR CHILD MAINTAIN A HEALTHY MOUTH.

Best practices encourage parents to create a dental home for their child. Young children are most comfortable with medical/dental staff when they are with their parents. Dental appointments should be made by parents and guardians. Parents are asked to obtain a copy of the treatment plan for their child's health record. Records can be given to your child's teacher who will pass the information along to the nurse. The nurses can help support you in the process if needed. You can reach them at 332-2512.

The dentist examines your child’s mouth, and writes out a treatment plan that is specific to your child’s dental needs. If your child has no cavities, the treatment plan will consist of a cleaning and fluoride application. If your child has decayed teeth, the treatment plan will list each tooth that needs to be worked on and how the dentist plans to fix each tooth. Sometimes, children need to be sent to a Pedodontist, (pediatric dental specialist), for extensive dental work and the parent/guardian MUST be present at these appointments.

Baby teeth are very important. They help your child eat properly, speak more clearly and they save spaces for adult (permanent) teeth. Make tooth care part of your family’s routine. The children brush their teeth after meals in the classroom. We encourage parents to brush with their children before bedtime. Be a good role model. Eat healthy foods, floss and brush at least twice a day. TALK ABOUT DENTAL VISITS IN A POSITIVE WAY.

Health Updates and Medical Referrals

Physical Exam - All children enrolled in the Early Childhood Learning Services need to have current physical examinations. For children under 2 years of age, physical exams are required at 2, 4,6,9,12,15,18 and 24 months. For children over 2 years of age, they are required every 12 months. Please schedule appointments with your child’s medical home (pediatrician). You may receive a notice from your Health Specialist if these are due or late. It is important that the yellow exam form from the doctor be sent to your child’s teacher. If you have any questions, please contact your child’s Health Specialist.

Medical Referrals - In the event that the Health Specialist identifies something about your child that requires further medical attention, you will receive a medical referral form. The top half of the form states the concern the nurse has identified. The bottom half of the form is for the medical professional to complete after your child has been examined. Once completed, the form is to be turned into the teacher. If you have any questions, please contact the Health Specialist listed on the form that was sent to you.

Immunizations - Your child’s immunizations (shots) need to be current. Please schedule those with your child’s pediatrician (medical home) or Health Department. If you receive a letter from the Health Specialist about necessary or overdue shots, you must have them completed and the blue form sent to the teacher. CHILDREN MAY NOT BE IN SCHOOL WITH AN OUTDATED SHOT RECORD. For information about the “Shots for Tots” program, where free immunizations are given through the Lee County Health Department, call 332-9501. If you have any questions, please contact your child’s Health Specialist.

Community Dental Resources

  • Project Dental Care - This FREE community dental program is for anyone nine years of age and older. Call the Health Department at 332-9516 and ask for Project Dental Care.
  • Family Health Center - Contact Family Health Centers at 332-0417. They have offices in most communities within Lee County.
  • Edison College School of Dental Hygiene - Call 985-8334 to set up an appointment for all ages. Appointments can take several hours as this is a teaching facility. There is a small fee for this service, for adults.
  • Dr. Tim Verwest - 9371-7 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33919, 239-482 2722. Dr. Verwest accepts Medicaid.
  • NCEF Pediatric Dental Center (University of Florida) 7007 Lely Cultural Parkway, Bldg. L, Naples, FL 34113, 239-775-3052. Accepts Medicaid.