All HIPPY programs around the world follow the HIPPY model: a developmentally appropriate curriculum, with role play as the method of teaching, staffed by home visitors from the community, supervised by a professional coordinator and with home visits interspersed with group meetings as the delivery methods. The HIPPY model has four components:
- Role Play
- Coordinators & Home Visitors
- Home Visits and Group Meetings
Each of the four features of the HIPPY model was chosen and developed in order to allow participation from parents who might otherwise not get involved with their children’s education. Although HIPPY is for any parent who wants educational enrichment for his/her child, the HIPPY model was designed to remove barriers to participation due to lack of education, poverty, social isolation and other issues.
The HIPPY curriculum is written for parents so they can be confident in their role as their child’s first and most important teacher. The curriculum provides detailed instructions for parents to introduce new concepts and skills to their child, steps to follow in presenting the activity, questions to ask, and tips to extend and adapt the activity to their child’s specific interests. Parents receive weekly support from their home visitor which allows them to engage in the parent-child activities with confidence.
The activities are designed around core learning domains of literacy and language, math and science, motor development and social emotional growth. The HIPPY curriculum is available for parents with children ages 2 – 5. Each year includes 30 weeks of activity packets and accompanying storybooks. The entire curriculum is available in English and Spanish and in both print and digital formats.
HIPPY is not a curriculum of mastery, but rather a curriculum of exposure to skills, concepts, and experiences with books that together constitute “school readiness” for young children. Skills and concepts are developed through a variety of activities including reading, writing and drawing, listening and talking, singing and rhyming, playing games, cooking and sewing, shapes and colors, puzzles and more.
Role playing is used throughout the HIPPY program by all participants. The coordinators and home visitors role play activities every week, taking turns in the roles of parent and child. Home visitors then role play the activities with parents at home or in group meetings. The parent does the activities with his or her child once the home visitor is gone.
Role Play provides opportunities for discussing the purposes of particular activities, for reflecting on the specific needs of learners (both adults and children), and for developing new teaching skills. This method of instruction promotes a comfortable, non-threatening learning environment in which there is always room for mistakes.
Additionally, role playing promotes parental empathy for the developmental capabilities of young children. Finally, the role playing method of instruction is easily managed by home visitors and allows for parents with limited reading ability an opportunity to become effective first teachers of their children.
Coordinators & Home Visitors
The HIPPY program is delivered by home visitors who are members of the community served and were also parents in the program. They visit parents in their homes each week to role play the curriculum. Home visitors are crucial to the HIPPY model. Their knowledge of the language, culture, and uniqueness of the community allows them to develop trusting relationships with the families while promoting equity and increasing parents’ confidence.
Each HIPPY program is supervised by a professional coordinator whose primary responsibilities are recruiting parents, hiring and training home visitors, organizing parent group meetings, and developing enrichment activities. The coordinator and the home visitors meet weekly to role play the materials, discuss the previous week’s activities, and share experiences.
Home Visits and Group Meetings
At the heart of the HIPPY model is the home visit. This is the time when the relationship between home visitor and parent is developed. Each home visit is unique, but all of them share common methods and goals. During each visit, the home visitor provides the parent with the tools and materials that enable the parent to work directly with their child on developmentally appropriate activities. Home visitors support the parent’s understanding of early childhood development concepts and terminology that increase the parent’s ability to observe and understand their child’s learning process. This knowledge also allows parents to be better advocates for their children.
Group meetings allow parents to come together and share their experiences. Parents are strongly encouraged to attend the monthly group meetings, leaving the isolation of the home in order to learn from and teach one another. Home visits are the key to the HIPPY program, but the relationships that are formed during these times are supported through group meetings. Group meetings and home visits work together to balance the learning experiences for the parent and child.