In addition to your one-on-one home visits with each child and family, twice a month the home-based option brings together small groups of families for child development experiences, parenting education, and opportunities to socialize and become friends with other families. Socializations are described in the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) and the Information Memorandum (IM) Child Development Services During Home Visits and Socializations in the Early Head Start Home-Based Program Option, ACYF-IM-HS-00-22. Some of the major points are listed below.
Because the HSPPS describes preschool socialization more specifically than Early Head Start (EHS) socializations, the IM goes into much greater detail and is an important resource in implementing socializations for infants and toddlers.
You should plan experiences that help families better understand child development and school readiness. You are also supposed to offer structured and unstructured learning experiences for both children and parents that integrate their individual goals. These group experiences are designed to facilitate the development of emotional security through trusting relationships with a limited number of consistent and familiar people. Socialization experiences provide home-based staff the unique opportunity to focus on the parent–child relationship and interaction in the context of the group setting.
Additional goals of socializations include supporting the early child–parent relationship and reducing the isolation that some parents experience. There should be opportunities for parents to share their parenting joys and challenges with other parents. Socialization experiences should incorporate and honor the cultural practices of the families.
The HSPPS emphasize the integration of comprehensive services into socializations: physical health, oral health, mental health, nutrition, and child development and school readiness.
The HSPPS describe diverse roles for parents in socializations. Families are engaged in all aspects of socialization experiences: planning, implementing, and evaluating as described in each Family Partnership Agreement.
As you do in home visits, you use opportunities during socializations to model successful strategies for engaging children and supporting their development. You also observe a child in the group environment with the parents while helping the parents to recognize and celebrate the child’s skills, abilities, and interests.