HISD home visiting program to help hundreds of families prepare children for preschool

The Houston Independent School District this week will begin offering in-home lessons to hundreds of new families from across the district in an effort to help parents better prepare their children for preschool.

The lessons are part of the district’s Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters — or HIPPY program. As part of the program, HIPPY home instructors models simple educational activities for parents to practice with their 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds.

The one-hour, weekly lessons span 30 weeks and cover early literacy skills, mathematics, science, fine and gross motor skills, and language development. Research shows that HISD kindergarten students whose parents have participated in the HIPPY program significantly outperform their peers in reading and math.

“The HIPPY program improves the connection between parent and child, and the children will surprise you with the changes in their confidence and attitude,” HIPPY home instructor and parent Veronica Herrera said. “My 4-year-old son was in the HIPPY program and he is already reading, recognizing and sounding out words, and writing short sentences. His pre-K teachers have told me he is on a first grade level.”

The home visiting program has been in place in HISD since 1986. Thanks to a $5.8 million grant recently awarded to the district by the Texas Home Visiting Program, the program is expected to serve nearly 600 families per school year over the next five years.

Under the grant, the program will expand into the Sunnyside, Third Ward, South Park, and Hiram Clarke communities. Additionally, all parents participating in the home visiting program will be able to enroll in free GED and ESL classes at Houston Community College.

“HIPPY is truly a life-changing program, we’re proud to be able to again offer it to our HISD families.” HISD Assistant Superintendent for Family and Community Engagement Jorge Arredondo said. “Early childhood is a critical time for cognitive development, and this program has proven its effectiveness in preparing young children to succeed in school.”

More than 40 HIPPY home Instructors, each assigned to different communities, will spend the next week meeting with families, helping them get enrolled in the program and beginning in-home lessons in English and Spanish. Parents must be zoned to an HISD elementary school or early childhood center to be eligible.

Parents can sign up online at www.houstonisd.org/HIPPY. For more information, call 713-967-5298.