“One thing is clear. Parents care and, given the opportunity, parents are ready to invest in their children’s education. Our work with HIPPY is designed to make that possible.”
Avima D. Lombard, HIPPY Then and Now: A Retrospective, 1994
By the late 1960s, it was clear that Israeli-born children of immigrants from North African and Asian countries were not achieving in school as well as their peers, even though they were attending preschool. A researcher at the NCJW Research Institute for Innovation in Education at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Avima D. Lombard – herself an immigrant from the United States, who had acted as an Evaluation Coordinator in Head Start during her years as a doctoral student at UCLA, proposed a solution: “At the Research Institute, we thought that our efforts should be directed to the homes of these young children; perhaps we could find a way to bring changes into the home that would help prepare children to deal with the demands of school. In focusing on the home setting, it seemed that we would have to consider two major areas: the educational enrichment of the child and strengthening the mother’s self-esteem through her activities as an educator in the home setting.” (Lombard, Success Begins at Home: The Past, Present and Future of the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters, 1994, p.8)
The program that evolved was HIPPY (Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters), in Israel called HA’ETGAR, meaning ‘the challenge’. Implemented initially in 1969 as a small pilot study with some hundred children in Tel Aviv’s Hatikvah neighborhood, positive evaluation studies of this and subsequent groups led to the Israeli Ministry of Education’s adoption of HIPPY as a national program.
Four decades have brought many changes within HIPPY and the birth of a variety of programs to meet the needs of Israel’s dynamically changing society. All of these programs share the original and enduring HIPPY principle, that parents and positive parent-child interactions play a key role in children’s learning and ability to realize their potential.