Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Early Childhood Education - Why Business Cares

Eduardo, one of our HIPPY students in Houston
with one of the projects he completed with his mom 

According to a ReadyNation report, the majority of large chambers and business round tables "have come to see early childhood as an investment in workforce and economic development that yields a high return." This organization seeks to connect insightful members of the business community with the work being done in Early Childhood Education and School Readiness. It makes my heart glad to see that our work is beginning to be recognized as a key to our country's future. ReadyNation has lot of research on their website on the economic effects of the achievement gap in U.S. schools. These effects include lower lifetime earnings, poor health and higher rates of incarceration. If you'd like to add your voice to supporting school readiness, please consider taking the ReadyNation Pledge!

TAKE 10 Challenge

Irving HIPPY families and staff at a TAKE 10 CHALLENGE event

Irving HIPPY in the Irving Independent School District recently participated in a health and fitness challenge. Once again, this initiative demonstrates how our HIPPY sites add on programming to the core of the HIPPY model, based on local partnerships and needs in the community. 

Parents in Irving were challenged to do at least 10 minutes of exercise daily, and nutrition and fitness classes for 12 weeks. They tracked their progress and the top 3 families were awarded prizes such as gift cards and Y-memberships. All families won in a way, because all of them were provided information and experiences that can have lifeline positive effects on their health and well being. 

You can view a slide show of pictures of this initiative here. Thanks HIPPY Irving and program partners for making our Irving community a healthier place!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

HIPPY Houston starts parent book clubs

Maria Santos, HIPPY Coordinator HISD

HIPPY program coordinators tailor the program to their community. Recently, HIPPY Houston sought to expand their efforts of increasing parent involvement and literacy through the implementation of book clubs. The first book club to be set up was at Roosevelt Elementary. About 30 parents attended and were eager to discuss the book "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk". This book provides parents with strategies of how to help children solve their own problems, not fix their problems for them. As parents of 3, 4, and 5 year olds our HIPPY parents are faced with many situations where this applies. The HIPPY curriculum itself is full of opportunities for parents to support their child's learning. 

The book club has been a great success according to HIPPY Coordinator Maria Santos. "The book they chose for the club is easy to read and provides them many useful exercises and tips they can use at home to help their children at school." And parents agreed, including Minerva Salazar who attended. She shared, "The book has helped me better understand my daughter, to be able to look at issues at school from her perspective."

The initiative was highlighted in the HISD produced newscast, and can be viewed here, it begins at minute 3:10. It was also covered in the Spanish language Educalos segment, here

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Power of Talk

According to a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, "the key to early learning is talking — specifically, a child’s exposure to language spoken by parents and caretakers from birth to age 3, the more the better." The author goes on to describe a new initiative in Providence Rhode Island where home visitors will be trained to help parents increase the amount of family conversation in their home. The goal is to increase the number of words per hour, per week and per 3-year old lifetime. Research has found that children who hear more words, and who engage in more conversations do significantly better in school. All this made me think about how HIPPY supports the power of talk in our families.

The HIPPY curriculum is the key to this. Our HIPPY parents are provided with written materials that suggests specific dialogue for parents to speak to their children. Some educators have challenged us on this method - saying that our materials are too rigid and that parents need to use their own words not a suggested dialogue. In fact, parents learn from the suggested dialogue and adapt it to their own style. The curriculum gives parents a successful strategies for the following:

  • Questions to ask during and after reading a story
  • Giving a child directions and instructions, beginning one step directions for 3 year olds, and onto two and three step instructions as children develop
  • How to introduce a new concept to a child
  • Giving a child opportunities to share his/her opinions and ideas
  • Helping a child identify his/her feelings
Additionally, while the curriculum begins in a highly structured format, by Age 5 it is quite open ended, expecting parents to apply the techniques on their own. These strategies have ensured that children are exposed to a great deal of conversation and vocabulary, and therefore are highly prepared for school!

Read the full New York Times article here