April 11, 2023 – Some of a child’s most critical years academically are before they even step foot in the classroom.
That is the foundation behind the international HIPPY program, which stands for Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters.
This program — available to families around the world including Duval County – helps children ages 2-4 get ready for school in their very own home.
“It’s very important because we want them to be ready for school,” said Sharlane Talbert, HIPPY coordinator for Duval County Public Schools. “It prepares your child for when they walk into the classroom on the first day of kindergarten. They are set, and they already know what is expected of them.”
Through the program, early childhood specialists work with the parent/guardian to train them on how to teach their child. The program provides a research-based curriculum, interactive activities, and supplies for parents. Lessons focus on critical reading, writing, math, science, language development, and social and emotional learning.
“It makes you your child’s first teacher,” said Talbert. “The home visitor will come into the home and role play the lessons with the parent and guardian. They provide the parent a script so that when they are in front of their child and they’re teaching their child the lessons, they are prepared for any hiccups that might come.”
HIPPY tracks students through their senior year of high school. Studies show that kids who are enrolled in the program experience even more growth compared to children who have not been in the program before.
Talbert says more than three dozen children are enrolled in the district’s HIPPY program, and there’s room for more. Additionally, the program is available in English and Spanish and can be provided virtually.
“We always want people to be comfortable with the lessons in their home language,” said Talbert. “We give them lessons just as if they’re in a classroom. Everything is scripted for them. It tells them from A to Z, exactly what to do.”
HIPPY is income-based. A parent must make below 200% of the poverty line or receive benefits from Medicaid or cash assistance. For more information about the program and eligibility, visit http://www.duvalschools.org/HIPPY.