Centacare Mount Isa is looking for families to sign up to a free educational program for children under 5, which has been successful in Australia and overseas.
The HIPPY program (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters) focuses on fun learning activities to develop literacy, numeracy. language, and motor skills.
HIPPY Program Manager Rebecca Brown said it recognises a parent’s role as their child’s first teacher.
“We work with families to prepare a child for the more formalised learning environment but acknowledging parents are the first educators in a child’s life,” Ms Brown said.
“We focus on working with parents to build their confidence as educators in the child’s life, and then they work with the children on activities to get them ready for school.”
Each child is enrolled for two years, starting the year before prep school and continuing into their prep year.
Activities are centred on the child’s development in fine and gross motor skills, colours, shapes, language, literacy, and numeracy.
HIPPY is a national program fully funded by the Australian Government and managed by The Brotherhood of St Laurence.
“It is recognised in many different countries and in many different languages,” Ms Brown said.
Centacare has facilitated more than 250 families through the program in Mount Isa since 2009.
HIPPY Co-ordinator Diana Tuari-Ngatai said it is open to all families in Mount Isa, and all tutors have been parents in the program.
“I train the tutors weekly, and they teach the parents who teach their children,” she said.
One of these parent tutors is Jayasree Parthasarathy who’s daughter Sreenidhi is in her second year of the program.
“It’s very useful for the child as well as the parents. It gives us the baseline for how to start the teaching for the kid,” Ms Parthasarathy said.
“Some parents don’t know where to start – I was in a big confusion as to where to start as a parent.
“We were new to not only Mount Isa but Australia, and as a migrant mum, the way I learnt in my country was completely different to how they teach in Australia.”
To register for the 2017 program contact Centacare, 80 Short Street, Mount Isa.
Parents of children 3 years old can also register their interest for the 2018 program.
The first year of the program consists of weekly meetings between parent and tutor to focus on upskilling the child.
The second year pares back to fortnightly sessions to make time for prep school homework.
Many parents such as Ms Parthasarathy have re-entered employment through the program by becoming a tutor.
Ms Brown and Ms Tuari-Ngatai said HIPPY is culturally diverse and has contact with both the migrant centre and Indigenous community groups, but is open to families of all backgrounds.
Up to 35 families participate in the program each year.