Home-Based Program Nurtures Family

posted 9/14/22 -- LCCAA’s home-based Head Start program helped Oberlin native Rebekah Fields-Johnson take ownership of her children’s education and has made her a better mother.

Rebekah, her husband Mario, and their four children have all been touched by Head Start and her baby girl due in September will be also, she said. Her entire family has been empowered.

“I love home-based. It’s so flexible for our schedule,” she said. “Being able to have them in their own environment is easier since there are so many of us. It’s a family thing; we’re all involved.”

The Johnson family became part of Head Start when oldest son Xavier enrolled in home-based at age 3, six years ago. Daughters Xenieya, 7, and Xylahna, 5, are both graduates as well. Son Xemar just turned 3 and started receiving visits from Sabrina “Miss Ellen” Osborne. Daughter Xoie is expected Sept. 20 and already on Miss Ellen’s list.

“Every child is different,” Rebekah said. “So as we’ve been on this journey, she’s been able to get to know my kids.”

Xavier began Head Start with strong emotions. Miss Ellen introduced Conscious Discipline to help both mother and son. Rebekah now uses the program as a “staple for our household.” She’s grateful for the curriculums which have helped her “take the reins” as a parent.

“I have seen her go through so much through the years,” Miss Ellen said. “She is very strong. I’ve watched her grow as a woman and as a parent.”

Rebekah appreciates the program’s whole family approach. Working with Miss Ellen has encouraged her to continue her education and improve skills such as time management. She worked as a STNA until COVID-19 closed her children’s schools. Now, while home-schooling daughter Xenieya as she recovers from surgery, Rebekah is taking classes at Lorain County Community College.

“I set goals with Miss Ellen for what I wanted to do as a parent and as an individual,” she said. “It goes beyond the kids. It really works on the whole family.”

Miss Ellen’s weekly, 90-minute visits include songs, activities, stories and more. While the visits have been conducted recently over Zoom or outside at a distance, the Fields children have been fully engaged and grown tremendously.

“It’s always child led,” Rebekah said. “My kids love to sing and dance, so she keeps them active and motivated. They look forward to her coming.”

When the older children are home, they’re included as well. Activities vary from practicing writing skills to taking nature walks in the Johnson’s neighborhood. Miss Ellen brings materials or drops them off if the visit is virtual.

“Center-based isn’t for everyone. This approach gives you so much flexibility and involvement – with the help of someone who is educated,” Rebekah said. “It nurtures our whole family and we cherish it.”