A group of little Tasmanians starting school in 2019 has already received a valuable introduction to learning.
30 families recently completed the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY), a school-readiness program which Anglicare delivers in Launceston.
Research shows participation in HIPPY has a proven positive effect on parenting style and the home learning environment.
“The quality time families spend together doing HIPPY gives children a great start for their early years at school,” said Anglicare’s HIPPY coordinator Aparna Banerjee.
HIPPY provides resources and support – equipping parents with everything they need to create a fun learning environment at home.
“Children take part in play-based, educational activities with their parents and family members,” said Aparna. “We suggest doing HIPPY activities for around 15 minutes a day. But once the children get interested in an activity they often want to keep going!”
HIPPY supplies free stationery, activity books and drawing materials for children to use. Home tutors, who are paid Anglicare employees, visit HIPPY families regularly over the two years of their enrolment.
“During the first term, the home tutors visit the parent every week, and after that they go fortnightly,” she said Aparna. “They explain the activities and chat about ways parents can bring those ideas off the page and into the world by relating them to everyday situations or places”.
“For example, asking a child to help find five apples at the supermarket helps to reinforce what they are learning about numbers,” said Aparna. “Or encouraging them to keep watch for the number 7 bus as they wait at the bus-stop”.
All of the HIPPY learning activities are based on the Australian kindergarten and prep curriculum.
“At a conference in Launceston last month, a grade four child came and spoke about HIPPY,” said Aparna. “She said she still remembered many of the HIPPY activities, but most of all she remembered the bond that she felt with her Mum while doing them”.
HIPPY has a long history. It began in 1969 and has since spread to a variety of countries around the world. In Australia, the Federal Government funds the delivery of HIPPY in 100 communities, reaching around 5000 children each year.
The feedback from participating parents has been overwhelmingly positive. 96% said there had been an improvement in interactions with their child and they had a greater sense of confidence as their child’s first teacher. 97% said their child was more prepared for school because of HIPPY. Schools also reported that HIPPY parents were more likely to be involved in their child’s learning and development.
HIPPY provides opportunities for parents to go on to work as paid home tutors, sharing their knowledge and experience with new families. “There is also support available for tutors to continue with further education and development,” said Aparna. “One of our Launceston tutors has completed a Certificate 4 in Community Services, another has done a medical receptionist course. People set their own goals and go from there”.