Hi and welcome to Knitting Help!
Yes, you want to leave the front, center sts, 8sts for the smallest size open. This forms the front opening of the hood which will frame the face.
Join the front and back at the shoulders and start picking up sts at the right side of the neck, around the back and down the left side of the neck, leaving the front center 8sts open. Turn at the end of the row and purl back on the same 40sts and do the specified number of increases at the same time. From now on you'll be working back and forth in stockinette stitch.
Here's a link to this very cute pattern: