HIPPY parent turned home instructor describes experience as ‘great opportunity’

As fall approaches, the Family and Community Engagement Department is busy recruiting 15 part-time home instructors to work with the HIPPY program for the 2015–2016 school year. The program was recently awarded a $6.5 million grant from the Health and Human Services Texas Home Visiting program to expand to schools across the district, serving almost 1,400 families.

Home instructors play a vital role in delivering the program. Over 30 weeks, home instructors visit the parents of preschool-aged children, delivering research-based curriculum in reading, math, and science to ensure students are ready to start kindergarten and succeed in school. We spoke with Veronica Herrera, a former HIPPY parent turned home instructor, to find out more about the job.

What motived you to get involved in the HIPPY program?

A friend told me about the HIPPY program because I was looking for an academic program for my preschool-aged kids. I liked the program because it was something different for my kids to learn, and a different way of teaching my children. They liked it and it was fun for them, which meant I wasn’t stressing out as much about them learning. They surprised me because they knew more stuff than I thought they knew — the program was challenging and great.

You visit parents at home once a week and role-play learning activities with them that they can then practice with their 3-, 4-, and 5-year olds. What has that experience been like?

It’s been very interesting. A lot of times, parents didn’t know how smart their kids are. It allows the parent to make learning fun. I also love the responses I receive from the children. One child told me, “Thank you for your presents that you gave me and the books. I really liked them. Now you can go. Bye.” He was referring to the HIPPY materials.

What is something that has surprised you while working with the HIPPY program?

My five-year-old HIPPY kids. I’m surprised when they come to me and start reading out of nowhere, ‘”Teacher, I can read!” It’s a big surprise to me to see the progress the children make.

What would you say to someone who is interested in becoming a home instructor?

If they like to learn different things in different ways, then this will be a great opportunity. Not only do you learn patience, but you also learn how to think out of the box. You also get different ideas from other coworkers, which is pretty cool. Most importantly, seeing the children succeed in school makes it all worth it.

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a HIPPY home instructor, apply online at bit.ly/1JjB3IN. Visit the HIPPY website at HoustonISD.org/HIPPY or call 713-967-5298 for more information.