TAMIU’s Texas Center Brings ‘HIPPY’ to Rio Bravo, El Cenizo

TAMIU’s Texas Center, Donors Brings
‘HIPPY’ to Rio Bravo, El Cenizo Families

Lucky parents in Rio Bravo and El Cenizo will now have help to develop their three-, four- or five-year-old child’s full potential.

Texas A&M International University’s Texas Center for Border Economic and Enterprise Development is sponsoring the world-renowned HIPPY—Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program—to help parents access the tools, skills and confidence to help prepare their children for success in school and life.

Richard Perez, Texas Center program manager, said the innovative program empowers parents as all children’s first teachers.

“HIPPY helps parents empower themselves as their children’s first teacher by giving them the tools, skills and confidence they need to work with their children in the home. The program was designed to bring families, organizations and communities together and remove any barriers to participation that may include limited financial resources or lack of education,” Perez said.

HIPPY is an international program that started in Israel in 1969 as a research and demonstration project. It spread to other countries and came to the United States in 1984.

Funding for the first year of HIPPY Laredo has been provided by former Laredoan Mendell Granoff, family scholarships from the D.D. Hachar Charitable Trust, in-kind resources from TAMIU’s Texas Center for Border Economic and Enterprise Development and grants from AmeriCorps and the Intercultural Development Research Association of San Antonio. The Laredo Area Community Foundation will serve as a catalyst for bringing together the partnership.  Approximately 45 children are projected to benefit from the Laredo HIPPY program.

Perez said that the program helps parents be the best for their children.

“All parents want the very best for their children; they want them to succeed… but not all the parents know how to develop their children’s potential.  HIPPY was designed to remove any barriers to participation and is designed to reach these often challenged and isolated families.  The focus is on the early years of the child.  We are targeting the three-year-old where the brain is actively seeking knowledge of any kind,” he explained.

Research findings indicate that many children are entering kindergarten without the necessary cognitive and social skills known to have an effect on success in school, especially in reading and writing. Children whose parents are involved in their early education by becoming aware of their strengths and weaknesses and staying in regular contact with their teachers are more likely to have successful school experiences, he noted.

HIPPY is different from other early education programs because it focuses on parents as their children’s most important teachers with age-appropriate language development, problem solving, logical thinking and perceptual skills. Skills and concepts are developed through a variety of activities that involve reading, writing, drawing, singing, sewing, games, movement and more.

HIPPY works by exposing children to skills, concepts and experiences that ensure “school readiness” in young children. Parents learn teaching skills and foster a new kind of relationship with their children that centers around learning.

Perez said that perhaps the most crucial component in the HIPPY model is the staffing use of home visitors.

“Bilingual home visitors are recruited from among the parents being served, as well as others from within the community. All are supervised by professional coordinators.  Role playing is the principal method for teaching parents the processes and activities for promoting their children’s skill development.  Home visits are interspersed with parent group meetings. HIPPY maintains this is essential to being successful,” Perez said.

Established guidelines provided by HIPPY will be followed to identify families to be assisted, he said.

“Basically, there is a concentration on the desire of the parent to provide the best for their children via education.  There is a determination as to the desire to be an active participant focused on the benefit to the child and, finally, a face to face review with schools and other programs such as HeadStart,” he said.

For more information, please contact Perez at rperez@tamiu.edu or 326.2840 or visit offices in Western Hemispheric Trade Center, room 222F.

University office hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu