Home-Based Curriculum

Read this Standards in Action vignette for a look at the Head Start Program Performance Standards on home-based curricula. It features a fictional grantee and describes how program leaders work with others to meet the standards. Program staff can use it to reflect on and identify the most appropriate ways to put the standards into practice in their own program.

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The Current Situation

A woman reads with a boy seated on her lapFulton Early Head Start (EHS) and Head Start Child Development Coalition has long used infant/toddler and preschool classroom-based curricula for its EHS and Head Start  home-based options. For consistency between the program options, they had chosen to self-adapt the classroom-based curricula rather than have different curricula in each option.

Serena, director of the early childhood program, leads the program's School Readiness (SR) Team. The full team consists of the education manager for the center-based programs, the home-based supervisor for the home-based programs, selected EHS and Head Start teachers and home visitors, and two policy council representatives. The team has two subcommittees—one for center-based and one for home-based. Each meets separately with Serena when there are option-specific issues to address.

Serena has been reviewing previous meeting notes related to the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) around home-based services as she is preparing for the full team's next meeting. The home-based supervisor, home visitors, and one policy council member whose child is in the EHS home-based program reviewed the curriculum standards at their last subcommittee and Serena wondered if they would be able to continue using the center-based adapted infant/toddler curriculum.

The team listened to the Office of Head Start (OHS) October talk for grantees on the governance and education HSPPS, then met again. During the webinar, one of the presenters addressed this question. The OHS representative clarified that the standards in the home-based education section require programs to implement a research-based home-based curriculum. The team now understands that their self-adapted curriculum won't meet the intent of the regulations.

The Solution: First Things First

The SR Team is now wondering what their next course of action should be. They know they have to implement a research-based home-based curriculum by August 2017. They need to identify new curricula for EHS and Head Start and everything that entails including (but not limited to):

  • Finding available research-based curricula that also must meet the other curriculum criteria:
    • Promotes parents’ role as child’s teacher/focus on parent-child relationship
    • Aligns with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) and state early learning guidelines (ELGs), is sufficiently content-rich, and includes an organized developmental scope and sequence
  • Determining costs to purchase and maintain, including initial and ongoing training costs
  • Ensuring program/policy council/board buy-in

They brainstorm some questions about finding available and appropriate curricula:

  • Who will explore the options? When does this need to be done?
  • What criteria will they use to make choices? For example:
    • How will the team determine ELOF/ELG alignment?
    • How will the team know if the new home-based curricula align with the center-based curricula? For example, would children receive comparable educational experiences and support?
    • Would their current child assessment tool work with the new curriculum—or would they have to find a different child assessment tool?
  • If the chosen home-based curricula need to be significantly adapted to better meet the needs of their children, who would they partner with to make changes? When would the adaptation work need to happen. How would they monitor whether the adaptation adequately facilitates children’s progress toward meeting the program school readiness goals?
  • What is the budget for purchasing curricula and providing initial/ongoing training? What other costs need to be considered (e.g., fidelity tools; maintenance of curriculum such as replacing or buying additional curriculum manuals and curriculum materials)? Once they identify potential curricula, there are three more questions:
    • How will final selections be made? Who will make the selections?
    • How will they achieve program/policy council/board buy-in on final selections?

The Solution: Next Steps

Finally, the team identified some questions to consider once they find appropriate home-based curricula and make the decision to purchase and implement them:

  • How do they phase in the new curricula?
  • How will home-based staff be trained at the onset of curriculum implementation and ongoing?
  • What other steps will need to be included in the transition?
  • How will they monitor implementing the curriculum with fidelity?
  • What additional professional development and technical assistance will be provided to staff beyond the phase-in stage?

Once the SR Team identifies answers to these questions, the program is ready to move forward on choosing home-based curricula and planning for transition, training, and implementation.

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Keywords:Home-based curriculum

Resource Type: Publication

Last Updated: September 18, 2019