An innovative program that recognises that children’s primary teachers are their parents has started in Walcha.
The Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) commenced in Walcha two months ago and held its first group meeting a fortnight ago.
The two year program works with parents and children in the year before school and the crucial first year of school to foster a love of learning in the student and empower the parents.
The program also provides an opportunity for one parent to become a HIPPY Tutor at the start of each year.
“Some parents applying to be a tutor may be going back to work after a gap or might be going to work for the first time,” said HIPPY New England Co-ordinator Debby O’Brien.
“We understand this can be daunting and we provide support for parents to make this transition.”
Walcha mum Bec Naylor is tutoring her four-year-old niece and has been employed by the New England HIPPY provider part-time to work with Ms O’Brien to deliver the program to participating Walcha parents for the next 18 months.
“The work is flexible for me and as a tutor, I get trained and work through activities with the Ms O’Brien ahead of visiting my families,” Ms Naylor said.
“I get knowledge about early childhood education, the theory behind it, and connecting with other services in the area.”
HIPPY parents who are not employed as tutors are also supported to access training and professional development opportunities, and are provided with referrals to employment or training services if this is something they wish to pursue.
The two year program consists of a curriculum of 60 weeks of learning activities designed to fit into the daily life of the family. HIPPY families spend around 10 to 15 minutes a day, five days a week, doing educational exercises together.
The activities and storybooks are fun and educational, and are aligned to the Australian Early Years Framework and National Quality Standards (NQS).
Home Tutors schedule regular weekly or fortnightly visits with the carer to discuss and work through the program activities in the family’s home. Carers are also encouraged to participate in regular parent Group Meetings. HIPPY is an opportunity to learn and grow for parents as well as children
HIPPY is in 100 communities across Australia. The Brotherhood of St Laurence holds the licence to operate HIPPY in Australia and the program is fully funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Social Services.
Through HIPPY Australia, the Brotherhood of St Laurence licences over 60 community organisations to run HIPPY locally, and recognises that local organisations and people know their communities best. HIPPY Australia supports each of the 100 sites to deliver HIPPY in their communities.