Alira is happy to talk about HIPPY.
She is seven, no, seven-and-a-half years old. The half is important, and the correction is part of a confident conversation about her experience of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY).
Alira is a graduate, her sister Melinda is a graduate and their mum, Melissa Saunders is now a tutor of the program that helped her daughters to prepare to attend Taree Christian College.
The HIPPY program is to again start in the Manning and Great Lakes regions, and there are 10 of 25 places available.
Uniting Burnside HIPPY community connector, Katie Jones is inviting people to sign-up to the program which is to begin in around three weeks.
“The only selection criteria is that children are aged four-ish, are looking to go to school next year and live in the area,” Katie said.
Alira finished HIPPY when she finished kindergarten, which was a few years ago, yet her memory and enthusiasm is a testament to the positive impact of the program.
“My favourite was science,” she said.
“We liked going on the excursions, they were adventures and were fun.
“We went to the zoo and after we went to the zoo, we made a zoo of cardboard and a big drawing, and we also made binoculars with string.
“We did it with our mum, which was great.”
Melissa watches her daughter talk rapid-fire and with animation, she is proud and shares that HIPPY was also a learning experience for her.
I discovered how to use words that could empower them, instead of saying, ‘no, that’s not right’, I learned how to give them the option to have another try or to find another way ...Melissa Saunders
“I discovered how to use words that could empower them, instead of saying, ‘no, that’s not right’, I learned how to give them the option to have another try or to find another way, to not make it too hard for them,” Melissa said.
“It’s a fun experience to do with your kids and makes a huge difference to their confidence.”
She shared that when Alira and Melinda started school they were “always praised for how well they were doing” and Katie is quick to add, “The teacher said, you can tell a HIPPY kid in the classroom.”
Katie explains that HIPPY is a two-year program and it “recognises that parents are the experts of their children and really encourages them to be their teachers in the home.”
“It’s really focused on empowering the parents to learn lots of new things as well as encouraging their children while they are learning.
“Families get activity packs every week in the age four program, and the idea is that they spend five to 10 minutes a day at home with their little one going through each of the activities, so they start to learn colours and shapes and numbers, read stories and do arts and crafts and other activities.
”It also supports kids when they start school, HIPPY teaches how to share, how to take turns, how to make friends, and all of those things are really important when they are in the playground, when they don’t know what to do, or know how to ask for help, it helps to build resilience. “
For further information visit the HIPPY Australia website and to take part in HIPPY contact Katie Jones on 0427 414 488.