Parents, preschoolers learn at home in new HISD program

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HIPPY is a new program set to help early childhood development by giving parents and students the tools they need to succeed at home.

The Houston Independent School District plans to start offering in-home lessons this week.

Their program is called "Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters" or "HIPPY" for short. Program leaders hope to reach more families than ever. Eyewitness News recently tagged along for a HIPPY lesson to get a firsthand look.

Think of it as a "house call" for education. Home instructors visit parents for one-hour lessons, once a week over 30 weeks.

During their session, instructors teach parents easy activities they can do with their 3- to 5 year olds to help develop reading, math, and science skills.

Parent Brianna Garcia said she's already seeing a difference. Garcia said she feels more confident with own skills in helping teach her son.

"My son is very active so I felt like this is a good way to keep his mind occupied and everything," said Garcia. "I think that that program is changing me because prior to this, I wasn't as active in reading with him every night and understanding what's going through his mind."

Instructor Rebecca Lavergne said HIPPY is all about reaching kids long before they enter the classroom and aiming to give them a leg up.

"I like empowering the parents. I like coming into their homes and being able to teach them," said Lavergne.

"We teach them and we allow them to know it does start at home. They understand that. Once they see that their child is progressing and growing, they can grasp the fact. I can actually teach my child to learn. I can help the teacher instead of it always being on the school to do the teaching."

Senior Manager for Community Engagement Valerie Schillaci told abc13 "HIPPY" wants to reach more than 600 families district wide. She said a grant, totaling $5.8 million over 5 years, can help achieve the big goal.

"We've found all the families that participate in the HIPPY program out perform their peers," said Schillaci. "They model activities that are fun to do, easy to do, and they really enjoy them. The parents practice those activities with their children over the week until they get a new lesson the following week."

"HIPPY" is offered to both English and Spanish speaking families. For more information, head over to houstonisd.org/hippy or contact HISD at 713-967-5298.
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