Gadsden County Program Shows Parents How to Tutor Their Children

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By: Symone Davis
February 17, 2016

GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. -- At first glance, it might not seem like your typical tutoring sessions.

Delfina Pérez, of Greensboro, Florida, isn't here to learn for herself. Instead, she's learning how to teach her two youngest daughters.

"At first I was expecting for them to show her something but then they told me what I was supposed to do and I kind of likes it because I was able to work with her," said Perez.

Perez is a part of PAEC HIPPY, that's short for Panhandle Area Educational Consortium Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters.

It's a free program geared towards low income parents.

HIPPY offers home-based early childhood education for 3, 4, and 5-year-olds.

"What we're trying to do is not only get them ready for school to head into kindergarten, but also to empower the parents to be their children's first and most important teacher," said Nicole Reyes, Executive Director of the Gadsden County HIPPY Program.

The program is 30 weeks long and each parent is assigned a home visitor-- a mentor, who comes out once a week for an hour or so to go over pre-determined assignments.

"What the packet consists of is language, math, science, motor and literacy skills. Each activity takes fifteen minutes," said home visitor, Latoya Sweet.

Parents then go over these activities with their children everyday for 15 minutes.

At the end of the 30 weeks, the home visitor then meets with the child, testing them on their progress.

Latoya Sweet says the biggest reward of the program is seeing the parent's gain a sense of accomplishment.

"I've had parents to tell me that HIPPY is making my child want to read. HIPPY is making my child want to be a better student in class," said Sweet.

"My daughters come from school and says I have homework. I need to do my homework too," said Perez.

And for Delfina, knowing she played a part in making it all happen makes the reward so much sweeter.

"The opportunity to work with them, to be with them, and encourages me to be more with them to see how they doing in school," said Perez.

The Gadsden HIPPY Program has been in the area for less than 2 years. They serve residents in Chattahoochee, Midway, Greensboro, and Quincy.

PAEC HIPPY is a national program founded at the University of South Florida in 1996.

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