The Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Program

Over the past 18 years, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Canada has reached out to provide more than 10,000 low-income newcomers, Aboriginal and other Canadian mothers and their children with structured lessons, practical information and community connections that develop mothers’ parenting skills and ensure their children have a better opportunity to succeed in school and society. There are two branches led by program directors: Aboriginal HIPPY in Canada and Multi-cultural HIPPY in Canada. While the core of the program remains the same, each branch has modified the curriculum and the delivery strategy to address cultural requirements.

HIPPY will remain the core program of the Mothers Matter Centre, and the sustainability and expansion of HIPPY will be the Centre’s primary focus. We continue to grow the program each year, support existing sites in their pursuit of more sustainable funding, and we ensure the highest level of program fidelity and outcomes. Our expansion plan is included in this document. Several of our proposed innovations will complement and enhance HIPPY by adding services to the standard HIPPY program delivery.

How HIPPY Works

  • The program consists of weekly home visits and monthly group meetings.
  • It operates for thirty weeks per year – over three years – working with mothers and their children, ages three, four, and five.
  • Home visits are conducted by peer Home Visitors who were previously mothers in the program.
  • Home Visitors reach out to mothers who, due to social isolation, poverty, language, or other cultural issues, are hard to reach. Home Visitors ensure the mothers feel comfortable participating and are successful in the program.
  • Home Visitors deliver high-quality child-centred curriculum activities directly to parents using role-play as a fail-safe method of teaching.
  • Parents work with their children with the HIPPY curriculum for 15 to 20minutes a day.
  • Monthly group meetings support mothers’ social integration and begin to establish support networks.

There are several evidence-based outcomes to the HIPPY program.

HIPPY Children demonstrate:

  • Improved academic performance compared to similarly situated children with positive outcomes for school readiness, reading ability and school behaviour.
  • Improved school readiness skills, school performance, English or French skills, self-esteem and self-confidence.

HIPPY Mothers report:

  • Improved parent-child relationships, greater self-confidence, reduced isolation, and improved opportunities for expanding social networks and social support.
  • Acquisition of skills necessary to work with their children, confidence in their role as their child’s teacher, improved language skills, greater participation in their children’s school, and more time spent with their children on learning activities.

HIPPY Home Visitors benefit from:

  • Employment (often first-time) for mothers who typically experience multiple barriers to employment.
  • Workplace training on HIPPY curriculum, community resource network systems, rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship, and employment skills.
  • Goal-setting and job-search support to transition Home Visitors to other jobs and/or higher education following their three-year work / learn position.
  • Home Visitors, once isolated mothers, are now highly employable members of society who contribute to the economic well-being of their families and communities.

HIPPY Components

The HIPPY program is comprised of four interlocking components – curriculum, Home Visitor and her visits, groups meetings, and a commitment to continuous training and support at every level of the program. When implemented together these components consistently yield positive outcomes.


The HIPPY curriculum is designed for parents and their children, aged three to five years old, and consists of: nine storybooks, weekly activity packages, and basic supplies such as geometric shapes, scissors and crayons for each year in the program.

Activity packages are set out as easy-to-follow lesson plans for parents, providing them with developmentally appropriate activities for their children with the objective of ensuring a successful and enjoyable learning experience. The activities guide parents in a process of engaging with their children using structured lessons that will ensure children’s school readiness skills, including: language development, perceptual and sensory discrimination, logical thinking, and problem-solving.

The skills and concepts are introduced progressively to the parent and child, first using the physical body, then concrete objects and, finally, representation of objects in pictures, followed by opportunities for practice and learning.

The skills are introduced using HIPPY’s wide-ranging, fun, learning activities that include reading, writing, drawing, singing, rhyming, games, puzzles, cooking, baking and more.

Parents are encouraged to build on the information in the activity packages in order to infuse the learning in all areas of their children’s lives.

Constant reviewing and updating of the materials ensures that the HIPPY curriculum is relevant for families and reflects current educational research findings.

HIPPY facilitates an international exchange of curriculum, additional complementary materials, and extension activities developed in other member countries.


Home Visitors, graduates of the HIPPY program, are hired and trained to visit mothers in their homes.

They support the parent, one-to-one, in transforming the home environment into a place of rich learning opportunities.

They accord to the parent a sense of respect for her or his role and authority as the child’s primary educator.

As a community member, the Home Visitor knows the language, lives the culture, and has faced the same challenges as the families with whom she works.

As a past HIPPY parent, and with ongoing training, the Home Visitor is familiar with the HIPPY materials and can transfer concepts and terminology to other parents.


The HIPPY program has gained success based on its ability to reach out and work with many of the most hard-to-reach families. This success is based on the capacity of Home Visitors to build trust with the caregivers and gain access to the home to deliver the HIPPY program to the family. HIPPY Home Visitors meet with the parents weekly to spend an hour reviewing the instructional materials using role-play.


Parent group meetings or workshops are held once or twice a month and are facilitated by the HIPPY local coordinator, assisted by the team of Home Visitors. Group meetings bring parents together to share experiences and ideas, reflect on the HIPPY activities, and discuss parenting topics both among themselves and with professional experts. HIPPY parent group meetings and parent-child workshops are stepping-stones for many parents to establish wider-ranging community and school involvement.


Training, instruction, guidance, shared learning experience, knowledge and skill-building are core components of the HIPPY experience. As a learning organization, HIPPY offers several layers of training from the national training sessions to regular weekly local training at the site level.

National Office – Local Coordinators: The national office of the Mother Matter Centre offers an annual conference and mandatory pre-service training along with ongoing professional education courses to coordinators to prepare Coordinators for their role as trainers and coaches of HIPPY Home Visitors.

Local Coordinators – Home Visitors: The HIPPY program utilizes a concurrent work-learn training program for Home Visitors. The Coordinator also meets with Home Visitors one-to-one. In the weekly training session, the previous week’s material is reviewed, questions answered, and challenges discussed. Then new material for the upcoming week is studied. As an effective, experiential teaching method, role-play is widely used by Coordinators with their Home Visitors and by Home Visitors with parents.

Home Visitor – Parents: With the parent in their weekly, one-hour home visit, Home Visitors use the same role-play method as in their own weekly training sessions. Material from the previous week is reviewed, and questions and challenges are discussed. Then new material for the upcoming week is role-played with the parent.

Parents – Children: After the parent is comfortable with the material, she is encouraged to work through the packet on a daily basis with her children. Each parent-child daily session takes approximately 15-20 minutes.


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