COA’S HIPPY program provides extra support to prepare preschoolers for kindergarten. HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) is a national program that encourages parental involvement and works to strengthen family relationships.
When she was a single mother of four, Monique Strickland used to balance two jobs and attend school without having a car to get around in. Finding time for family fun was difficult.
Strickland wishes she had known about the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program then.
“As a single parent with not a lot of time, that quality time would have been great,” Strickland said.
No longer a single parent, Strickland is now getting extra support for her 5-year-old daughter Madison—nicknamed “Maddie”—from the HIPPY program. HIPPY is a national program that promotes school readiness for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds. The program encourages parental involvement and works to strengthen family relationships.
“The 15 minutes that you spend together doing a daily worksheet means a lot,” Strickland said.
Maddie participates in HIPPY through the Children’s Outing Association (COA), a non-profit organization that works to establish community through youth development.
HIPPY hosts monthly events at the COA Goldin Center, 2320 W. Burleigh St. Past events have included family game nights and entertainment by a magician, dancers and an “animal man” who works with small live creatures.
When Maddie brought a letter about HIPPY home from preschool two years ago, Strickland became interested. Now she attends the monthly programs and takes advantage of the at-home activities HIPPY provides. The extra support has given her more confidence in her ability to help Maddie grow.
“HIPPY opened a door and made me feel more comfortable with helping her,” Strickland said.
The at-home material from HIPPY helps children with everything from elementary concepts such as “in” and “out” to role-playing games and learning to write.
“I think [Maddie] is well beyond the standard set of kids her age,” Strickland said. “She’s writing in cursive, she’s reading and she’s an all-around confident kid.”
Strickland said she will stay in touch with the friends she has made at COA after Maddie graduates from the program.
Even though she now has a car, Strickland thinks one of the best things about COA is its central location, which is accessible by bus and brings in all kinds of people.
“Sometimes you go places and you feel like it’s a hand-out,” she said. “Other times, you feel like you don’t belong. Income bracket doesn’t matter at COA. We have become a family.”
Julie Esteves, bilingual co-director of a school-readiness program for young children, has grown personally and professionally during her 17 years at COA in the Riverwest neighborhood.
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This story is part of a special report focusing on eight agencies that provide services to neighborhood residents in a variety of communities. Students from Marquette’s Diederich College of Communication created the pieces under the supervision of Prof. Herbert Lowe and NNS Editor Sharon McGowan.