HIPPY program enrolling students for new year

Published 5:30 pm Saturday, August 25, 2012

Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, also known as HIPPY, has started enrollment in Escambia County. Because of limited space, parents are encouraged to express interest in enrolling their children in the program. The sooner they do so, the more likely their children will be able to participate in the program.

New enrollees must be three or four years of age by Sunday, Sept. 1 in order to participate in the program. If a child doesn’t reach the age of three until after Sept. 1, they must wait until the following year to enroll in the program. The age guidelines follow guidelines for school enrollment. The goal of the program is to equip children with basic skills so they will be prepared to start off on the right foot when they enroll in school.

Lynette Penner, who is in charge of Escambia County’s HIPPY program, estimates about 80 kids will be able to participate.
“The goal is to get kids ready for school,” Penner said.

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Currently, Penner is taking names of those interested, with pre-testing to follow, before the start of the program in mid-September. The testing is simply to measure the progress students make throughout the program. Once the program begins, its schedule runs concurrent with local school calendars, ending in May and lasting a total of 30 weeks during the school year.

Among the basic skills covered, the children learn shapes, colors, numbers, how to draw a straight line, how to walk in a straight line, and how to correctly follow directions. Often, children are expected to already have such skills before they begin kindergarten. Not all children automatically have these skills from day one, so the HIPPY program tries to ensure that all children can start school having already learned these skills.

As HIPPY’s name indicates, four or five trained home educators provide lesson plans and encouragement to help parents learn how to better prepare their children for school. Because of the limited number of spots available, participation is critical to a child’s success in completing the program. Children who are not immediately admitted to the program may have a chance to gain admission at a later time.
One of the main reasons for the limited number of spots is the cost of the program. Escambia County has to purchase the curriculum materials through HIPPY. According to Penner, the program is federally recognized and is a research-based curriculum, so a lot of the materials have shown positive results through previous testing.

“We don’t have an indefinite amount of funding,” Penner said.

Throughout the program, nine books are provided. In the three-year-old program, these books include classic storybooks often found in retail bookstores, while the four-year-old program includes books gathered from the HIPPY program. The storybooks are one of the costliest expenditures of the program, but all materials are provided at no charge.

Children who have already been with the program may be eligible for a second year at the ages of four or five. The program is ideally designed to start children at three and continue the program the following school year at four.

“The four-year-old program builds some on the three-year-old program,” Penner said.

This is the fifth year of the HIPPY program here in Escambia County. The program has proven to be popular throughout the state.
“Alabama is a very active state,” Penner said.

Anyone interested in having their child participate in the HIPPY program may contact Lynette Penner at 251-359-5086.