Head Start teachers now have a new way of getting information about teaching reading skills to preschool children through a series of televised lectures and demonstrations called “HeadsUp! Reading.” Available through a satellite hookup or videotape, the program is trying to raise the knowledge base of Head Start teachers.

This staff development initiative was spurred by a federal regulation requiring that by 2003, all Head Start teachers must have at least a two-year college degree.

To date, California, Nebraska, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have signed up for the service for a two-year period, and most other states are testing the program on a pilot basis at one or two sites. Paying for the service gives the states access to the courses through two different methods: satellite distribution on Wednesday evenings (for which teachers must go to a site with satellite links), or videotapes for home viewing. In either case, the program is meant to be supplemented with a discussion facilitated by a trained expert in child development.

The focus of the courses is teaching Head Start teachers how to instill reading and writing skills in youngsters. This includes information on selecting books for children and presenting those books to them.

Developers of the program say they will incorporate changes based on feedback after the first year is completed. They may provide more video demonstrations of how various techniques actually work with children. They also plan to differentiate more clearly activities that are appropriate for children of different ages, and they soon will translate the whole program into Spanish.

For more information about helping preschoolers develop reading skills, visit the following web sites: