Changing children’s trajectories: results of the HIPPY longitudinal study
The most comprehensive study to date has investigated the impact of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) on the Australian children and parents who take part.
HIPPY is an early learning and parenting program targeting four and five-year-old children in low-income households, delivered in over 100 Australian communities. It provides parents with the confidence, knowledge and tools to support their child's education and helps them create a home learning environment. Doing HIPPY improves their child's school readiness and parent–child relationships.
Key findings include:
- Not only did parents enjoy the program; they transformed the home learning environment and spent more time on learning activities with their children.
- At commencement, HIPPY children on average scored below the Australian mean on a test of literacy and numeracy.
- After completing HIPPY, children’s average score was above the relevant Australian mean.
- Their improvement suggests HIPPY leads to a changed learning trajectory for children, not just a developmental gain that might be expected with age.
- In this way HIPPY works to redress the negative impact of poverty and financial hardship on child development.
The HIPPY Longitudinal Study found a strong theoretical and empirical foundation for the program design. Parents were successfully engaged, indicating high levels of satisfaction with key aspects of the program. They actively reconfigured the home learning environment using HIPPY’s distinctive pedagogical practices and activities. Attending HIPPY group meetings helped parents improve their child learning outcomes.
The improvement in HIPPY children's average scores on a test of literacy and numeracy skills relative to the corresponding Australian mean for their ages suggests a changed learning trajectory, not just a developmental gain, indicating that HIPPY works to redress the negative impact of poverty and financial hardship on child development.
The study also revealed a subset of families who face additional challenges owing to their complex circumstances. This suggests opportunities for adaptation and extra support during the transition to school.