HIPPY to help Murraylands youngsters

HELP will soon be at hand for Aboriginal parents whose children are preparing to start school in Murray Bridge.

Early next year, Anglican Community Care will introduce the Brotherhood of St Lawrence's program Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY), two years of home-based tutoring for eligible families.

HIPPY Australia national manager Marian Petit said the program had been proven to improve participating children's literacy and numeracy elsewhere in Australia.

"A rigorous independent research evaluation found that HIPPY children began the program with numeracy and literacy skills, on average, 30 per cent below the Australian norm," she said.

"After two years of HIPPY, their cognitive development was the same as the Australian average."

In Alice Springs, Arrente woman and HIPPY tutor Bonita Swan said she had seen the program's benefits in her son and grandson.

"Tutoring my son, having that one-on-one time, was a lot of help for him," she said. "When he started school the next year he already knew all the basic stuff.

"An important thing he got from HIPPY was confidence, being able to tell the teacher he knew the answer to the question, because a lot of our little indigenous kids are too shy or frightened to put their hand up."

The program's roll-out is expected to create three jobs for coordinators and tutors.

Murray Bridge was one of 25 centres across Australia announced as HIPPY locations earlier this year.

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