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An unfamiliar early childhood education program, which has been around for decades, is getting new attention, thanks to former President Bill Clinton.

He praised HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) in his speech last month at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

“Twenty years of research has shown how well this program works to improve readiness for school and academic achievement. There are a lot of young adults in America … who are enjoying better lives because they were in that program.”

HIPPY is a home-based educational enrichment program for young children, which also seeks to strengthen the bond between parents and children. Through the program, parents receive educational material and weekly home visits from a coach who advises them on how to get their preschoolers ready for kindergarten.

It’s an international program that began in Israel in 1969, and arrived in the United States in 1984. Today, it has 137 programs in 22 states, where it serves more than 15,000 children and their families–many of them living in low-income communities.

The federal child welfare website says HIPPY helps parents with limited formal education prepare their preschool-aged children for successful early school experiences.”

Children growing up poor, in homes without books all too often begin their formal education lagging behind children reared in more educated middle and upper-class families.

One recent study blamed this lack of early educational engagement for the science gap, which begins early and gets wider over time.

Donna Kirkwood, HIPPY national program director, told the Arkansas Times the program also empowers parents, who often feel intimidated when discussing their child’s education with teachers, to become their child’s best education advocate.

“We teach parents how to communicate with educators,” Kirkwood said. “It’s about an adult talking with an adult so the parents feel they are on the same level as the teacher, principal, director or any other person in their child’s school.”

So, what’s the link between the former president and HIPPY? Hillary Clinton, as first lady of Arkansas, discovered HIPPY during a visit to Miami. After witnessing its effectiveness there, Mrs. Clinton in 1985 introduced the program in Arkansas.

SOURCE: Arkansas Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter 


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