School Readiness

Research shows that what happens during the first five years of life is critical to healthy child development. Head Start's comprehensive focus on the five central domains of birth to 5 development is essential to children getting ready for school.

health worker examining children

Head Start programs offer services that support families and strengthen communities so that children are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. They focus on early identification, treatment, and health promotion. Staff use these health strategies to make sure children engage in learning. They are critical parts of Head Start's school readiness activities.

The tools and resources in this section may help program managers and staff plan and implement health services that help children get ready for school.

teacher with student in classroom

Assessing Child Health Status

Children's health guides program managers and staff as they develop and implement plans for the program and each individual child served. Developmental, sensory, and behavioral screening offers a data snapshot of children that helps staff identify and address concerns quickly. When necessary, staff refer children for appropriate follow-up and treatment. Children are more likely to stay healthy when they have an ongoing, continuous source of care.

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child in classroom

Growth and Development

Managers and staff use child assessment to learn about child progress. At the program level, managers use ongoing child assessment data to plan health services for all children. It also helps staff identify specific health or developmental needs that may impact learning. Using assessment data, staff are able to individualize and nurture each child's growth.

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teachers with students in classroom


School readiness goals describe what children will be able to achieve in order to be ready for kindergarten. Program managers and staff offer high-quality health services that help children meet those goals and get ready for school.

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children playing in classroom


Program leaders plan health services that help children meet school readiness goals. They use many different strategies to identify health concerns, offer timely treatment, and promote children's health. Including these strategies in school readiness planning ensures children are healthy, safe, and ready to learn.

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School Readiness

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Last Reviewed: December 2016

Last Updated: December 13, 2016