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HIPPY, a Program Working to Prepare Preschoolers for Success

by Joanne Shum

Parents love their children and want them to do well in school. Some parents seem to instinctively know how to achieve this and others don’t have a clue. But even those who do have a feel for how to reach their little ones are often uncertain as to what needs to be learned before kindergarten. School is harder than it used to be. There is more information to be covered and new things are being discovered daily. However, there are some basic things that all children should master before entering kindergarten.

Parts of Alabama have a program which assists parents with school readiness. This is Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY). HIPPY has been at work in Alabama since 1993 serving parents of children ages three, four, and five.

HIPPY works to ensure that children enter school knowing many things such as: letters, shapes, colors, and motor skills. Parent educators visit the home weekly and deliver a packet of lessons, books, shapes, and enrichment materials. The parent educator makes sure the parent knows how to teach the various lessons, but the parent does the actual teaching.

There are 30 weeks of lessons. If a child is enrolled as a three-year old and remains in the program, 300 lessons are covered. This allows a lot of cognitive learning to take place, but a lot of things that can’t be measured on a skills test also take place. For example, when a parent works on the HIPPY lessons for 10 to 15 minutes, five days a week with her child, the child knows intuitively how special he or she is. Also, the child knows that education is a strong value in the home. Bonding between the parent and the child is strengthened. Special memories are created and the parents learn to appreciate and understand the unique way their child learns. Self-esteem is fostered through a sense of competency and a lifelong love of learning is established.

The children who have benefited from being in the HIPPY program have entered kindergarten well prepared for success. They feel confident that they will enjoy school and do well. The grades that the HIPPY students are making show that their confidence is well placed. The former HIPPY students consistently make the honor roll and are leaders in their classrooms. Teachers who receive HIPPY students remark on how much they know and how smart they are. Many kindergarten teachers have an opportunity to participate in HIPPY before beginning school. Perhaps in time, funds will be available to make this a possibility.

Click here to find out where the HIPPY program is currently available in Alabama. The HIPPY state advisory board is working to expand the program statewide. There is no charge for the program. To register, call 334-265-2364 or toll free 866-974-7905.

Joanne Shum is a retired Early Education Specialist with Montgomery Public Schools. Mrs. Shum is the Executive Director of the HIPPY Alabama state office located at 1921 Walnut Street in Montgomery, Alabama. Her email is joanneshum@hippyalabama.com.