Getting a Head Start on Culture

Placeholder Show Content


Head Start is a government pre-school program run through the United Stated Department of Health and Human Services. Head Start’s goal as an organization is “Helping people. Changing lives. Building communities” and it primarily serves low socio-economic communities and the children that live within them. Head Start has a long history of improving academic success by correcting or buffering against the negative effects of poverty so children coming through its program are developmentally on par with their peers. However Head Start has vested interest in many other non-academic areas of development, such as cultural development. Head Start has long worked with ethnically dense and diverse communities to encourage the cultural growth of its students and local community. However, fostering cultural development is a difficult task as there are many sensitive issues, rules, and obligations that any organization should adhere to when trying to improve cultural development. One particular area of Head Start where the teaching of culture is especially difficult is within Native American reservation centers. The Office of Head Start (OHS) regularly encounters requests for assistance from reservations in improving their ability to support children’s cultural development, which is understandable considering the fact that Native American culture has a long history of mistreatment in this nation and is severely damaged. The goal of this particular thesis is to explore how parents and teachers within one reservation community want their children to develop culturally. I asked three particular questions regarding the relevance of traditional culture, perceived cultural needs, and the efficacy of Head Start in meeting those needs. The questions are as follows. In the minds of parents and teachers, how relevant is teaching Native American culture at the pre-school? What are the cultural needs, as perceived by parents and teachers, of the children within the Head Start program? How do parents and teachers perceive the efficacy of Head Start’s approach to teaching culture within the classroom? Through this research I hope to contribute to a growing body of literature on culturally-minded teaching and Native American identity formation.


Type of resource text
Date created June 2014


Author LaPlant, Riel


Subject Graduate School of Education
Subject Stanford University
Subject Education honors
Subject Head Start
Subject Native American culture
Genre Thesis

Bibliographic information

Access conditions

Use and reproduction
User agrees that, where applicable, content will not be used to identify or to otherwise infringe the privacy or confidentiality rights of individuals. Content distributed via the Stanford Digital Repository may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-SA).

Preferred citation

Preferred Citation
LaPlant, Riel. (2014). Getting a Head Start on Culture. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


Undergraduate Honors Theses, Graduate School of Education

View other items in this collection in SearchWorks

Contact information

Also listed in

Loading usage metrics...