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HIPPY’s program: teaching parents to teach their kids

A parent-teaching program developed by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will help parents in China and Korea better prepare their children for school.

The technology-transfer company of the Hebrew University, Yissum Research Development Company, has signed an agreement with Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN), a Chinese charitable social enterprise, and Lolo Educational Services Co. (LES), an educational contents provider in South Korea, for the entrance of its Home Instruction for Parents and Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program into those countries. HIPPY is an early learning program, developed by the researchers in 1969, that is already being used by 20,000 families in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Israel, Liberia, New Zealand, and the US. This is the first time the program has been sold to East Asian countries, Yissum said on Wednesday.

The HIPPY program partners with parents to prepare their children for school, particularly those most at risk due of poverty, limited education and language proficiency. HIPPY works directly with parents in their homes, giving them books, activities and skills. In addition, peer parent educators, who know the curriculum materials, make home visits and deliver 30 weeks of instruction to the parents on the program, who are then asked to engage with their children using the educational activities they have just learned. The aim is to empower the parents and help them become their child’s first teacher and prepare them for success in school, HIPPY said in a statement.

The curriculum consists of story and activity books and basic supplies such as geometric shapes, scissors and crayons, which help expand the literacy skills of the children, promoting language development, logical thinking, problem solving and perceptual and sensory discrimination, according to the HIPPY International website. HIPPY’s program adapts its material and languages to the various communities it serves, being sensitive to the different cultural needs and traditions, the statement said.

In China and Korea, the model was transformed to meet the higher educational demands of the upper and middle class populations. In these two countries, professional teachers, and not parent peers, will train the parents, to raise the level of the students at school. In Korea, the program will begin with a six-month pilot, during which time it will be further localized and modified. One hundred parents are expected to participate in the pilot at three sites in Seoul. “HIPPY has been steadily growing worldwide over the last 10 years,” said Dr. Miriam Westheimer, director, HIPPY International. “South Korea and China are the first programs in Asia where we will be adapting the core program model for a very different and more highly educated consumer.”

The HIPPY program was developed in 1969 by Dr. Avima Lombard, a researcher at the NCJW Research Institute for Innovation in Education at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who started an early education program in Israel that aimed to teach parents with limited formal education to be their children’s first teachers. The premise was that early education is critical to a child’s learning and helps prepare very young children from low-income families to better succeed in school. “As a country with a large population, there are currently hundreds of millions of preschool children in China,” said Yichan Yuan, chief executive officer at ASDAN China. “Parents are willing to prepare their children for school by educating them at home, however, lack of informative guidance makes it extremely difficult for them to succeed in this task. We believe that this initiative can have a big impact on education of children in China.”

Yissum was founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize the Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Located in Seoul, South Korea, LES develops and provides parenting resources via a social networking system and educational programs for academies and groups. ASDAN China cooperates in educational program with some 192 schools in 52 cities.

Shoshanna Solomon

 Photo: Hebrew University's HIPPY educational program helps parents better prepare their children for school (Courtesy).