Minot Head Start celebrating 50th birthday

What child doesn’t enjoy a good birthday bash? Well, kids who attend Head Start in Minot, in a sense, have a whole year to celebrate as the vital program marks 50 years in Minot.

Started in 1968, the Minot learning center is still giving kids in need of a head start at school a chance to succeed later on just like any other child educated in the Magic City.

The young students might be from low income families, homeless or be in foster care. About 10 percent of the children served by the program have a disability or a developmental delay. The early services at Head Start are intended to help them catch up with peers who are from families from a higher income level.

Reporter Andrea Johnson recently paid a visit to Head Start and observed some of the kids enjoying themselves performing tasks they likely had no clue were educational in nature.

“The children’s drawings hanging on the wall may look like nothing more than scribbles, but to Head Start teachers they represent the beginnings of literacy,” Johnson wrote.

Literacy: Such an important milestone in life for any child, from any culture. But it doesn’t come without skilled teachers willing to spend the necessary time.

The preschoolers, who were learning how to recognize a happy, grumpy or fearful expression on the face of a cute, stuffed puppet are taking part in a social-emotional learning activity that will help them learn how to regulate their own emotions in a classroom, explained director Karen Knowles.

“It’s all to get them ready to go to school,” said Knowles.

Parents of Head Start kids are encouraged to read to their children as much as possible. They are also pointed toward other services their child or the entire family might benefit from.

One sad note Johnson pointed out: As of the end of October, there were 63 children on the waiting list for a spot in an Early Head Start classroom in Minot and another 63 children were on a waiting list for a spot in a Head Start classroom in Ward County. Some of those children may never get the opportunity to attend Head Start.

What a shame. Yet, that is the ugly truth of our economic situation. And it always comes down to money.

Had we the means, every one of the children in need of special services would get all the help they need. At least we would like to think that.

Happy birthday, Head Start. Make a wish. We know what ours is for you.