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Icon_ Head Start Basics

Head Start Basics

On-Demand • Online • 10 PD Hours

Available in Pre-Service Bundle

This course trains new and returning staff on the basics of Head Start—the program’s history, parent and family engagement, health policies, Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS), and more!


UPDATE: This course is currently being transferred to The Academy's new course platform. Because of this transition, new registrations will not be available to start the course until May 1, 2024. We apologize for any inconvenience. 

Hiring new staff? Getting them trained on the basics of Head Start and the training required by the Office of Head Start is vital. But, it can also be very overwhelming and time-consuming to plan and implement. Head Start Basics is a ten-hour course designed to train new and returning staff on the basics of Head Start. In addition to exploring the program’s 57-year history, the modules cover everything from parent and family engagement, health policies, the HSPPS, and more!

Course Level: Beginner

Requirements/Prerequisites: None

Target Audience: Instruction and Effective Practice, Leadership and Management, Parents and Families, Program Operations, Support Services

Course Meeting Times: None

Completion Timeline/Duration: Self-Paced

Head Start Alignment: This course supports programs in meeting 1302.92 Training and professional development requirements of the Head Start Program Performance Standards. It satisfies about 75% of the OHS training requirements in the Head Start Program Performance Standards. It is recommended this course be taken with Bias Busters Basics to meet more of the OHS required training.


Course Outline

Learning Objectives

  • Understand what Head Start is, where it began, and the basics behind how it operates. 
  • Implement specific skills to improve effectiveness in the classroom.
  • Gain knowledge and skills related to special education, health and safety, and family engagement.

Module Topics:

When Head Start Basics is purchased, learners will have access to the following modules. Please note, that each is also available for individual purchase.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act & Americans with Disabilities Act Basics

Head Start Basics Series:

This course will provide you with a strong understanding of the policies and practices in identifying potential learning delays and disabilities and how to provide additional and appropriate services to children.

Mandated Reporting & Child Protection Basics

Head Start Basics Series:

This course covers general information about the legal responsibilities of mandated reporters and how to recognize and respond to possible abuse or maltreatment. Learners will finish this course knowing who a mandated reporter is, what a mandated reporter’s responsibilities are, and how they themselves must carry out those responsibilities.

Early Childhood Health Services Basics

Head Start Basics Series:

Health and wellbeing serve as the foundation of school readiness and child development. This course explores how early childhood programs can use Head Start’s whole-child approach to support children, families, and communities on their paths to success.

Parent & Family Engagement Basics

Head Start Basics Series:

Explores how early education programs can partner with families to support children’s healthy development, school readiness, and wellbeing by following Head Start’s renowned whole-family model.

Passenger Restraint Safety Basics

Head Start Basics Series

This course trains early education staff on best practices, standards, and key regulations in Head Start that they can use to keep children and staff safe during transportation. Even for staff who do not typically transport children, knowing the proper way to do so is vital to ensure all staff are equipped in the event of an emergency.

Head Start Program Performance Standards Basics

Head Start Basics Series:

What makes Head Start the most high-quality early childhood education program? Explore the revolutionary Head Start Program Performance Standards. First introduced in 1975, this concept inspired a federal standards initiative for public schools and continues to help programs improve and find new ways to help children and their families across the nation.

Bloodborne Pathogens Safety Basics

Head Start Basics Series:

Children and adults in early care and education programs can be infected with serious viruses or bacteria and not even know it. This course explores best practices from the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) to mitigate the potential of this serious risk.

Active Supervision Basics

Head Start Basics Series:

How do you know if you are keeping all of your students safe and accounting for there whereabouts all of the time? This course will provide an effective model and strategies to ensure you are keeping safety as your top priority through active supervision.

Head Start History Basics

Head Start Basics Series:

Head Start is the most important social and educational investment in children, families, and communities the United States has ever undertaken. Dive into the program’s rich history in this short two-hour course.

Course Author

Dr. Deborah Bergeron

Dr. Deborah Bergeron

Dr. B served as director of the Office of Head Start from 2018-21. From 2019-21 she broadened her leadership as director of the Office of Early Childhood Development in the Administration for Children and Families. Known as "Dr. B" to former students and teachers, she spent three decades in pre-K–12 public education as a classroom teacher and school administrator. She currently serves as deputy director for Community Engagement and Innovation at the National Head Start Association.

Registration Rates

Regular Rate: $195

NHSA Member Rate: $90

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What learners are saying...

Karlie Alexander

"I use what I learned in this course every day. I have to think about and apply my knowledge of Head Start basics, foundations, policies, and procedures in each of my daily work tasks."

– Karlie Alexander, Behavioral Specialist/Disabilities Coordinator
Community Action Program of Central Arkansas

Christa Held

"I took the Head Start Basics course at the recommendation of my supervisor. As someone new to Head Start, it provided a broad foundation, including history, growth, and framework, into Head Start."

– Christa Held, Director of Program Operations
Community Services for Children

Tianee Lane Ma Ed

"I learned the importance of collaborative partnerships between Head Start programs and families as it provides a strong foundation for communication about children's learning, families strength, and parent involvement."

– Tianee Lane, M.A.Ed., Teacher Mentor, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community Early Childhood Education Center