HIPPY brings generational transformation

Great Potentials Foundation introduced HIPPY to New Zealand in 1992. It is now found in 40 low socio-economic communities around New Zealand. HIPPY helps around 2300 families every year nationwide.

 is a two-year, home-based family literacy programme that lays the foundation for children’s success in school and later life.

The programme is designed specifically for those parents who may not feel comfortable in their own abilities to support their children’s education.

HIPPY works with parents of 3 to 6-year-old children who live in low socio-economic areas.

The programme builds the confidence and skills of parents to create a positive learning environment to prepare their child for school.  HIPPY also offers some parents a supported pathway to employment and local community leadership.

Research has shown that HIPPY parents are more likely than their peers to seek further education opportunities for themselves. It is a true two-generation programme.

The HIPPY Ripple effect

OUTCOMES: Research on HIPPY Children

Reading Age ComparisonResearch on New Zealand children shows that HIPPY prepares children for school, and that the gains in literacy and numeracy are maintained over time. In particular, HIPPY children perform better than classmates on:
  • Receptive vocabulary, and mathematics and problem-solving tests (Burgon, 1997, cited in Younger, 2003). This study showed some positive results regarding HIPPY children’s academic performance, despite the comparison group of children being more advantaged than the HIPPY group on important background variables.
  • Literacy measures, problem-solving and mathematics (BarHava-Monteith et al, 1999b). This study also found that HIPPY children consistently performed better than a control group on all literacy measures used and showed statistically significant gains for three of the six sub-tests of the Reading Diagnostic Survey and the BASE scale.
  • Reading ages and numeracy levels (Sauer, 2003). The gains from HIPPY were shown to be maintained for HIPPY graduates at age nine and ten years when compared with non-HIPPY graduates matched for age, gender, ethnicity, preschool and school experience. Three years after completing HIPPY, the HIPPY graduates were, on average, nearly one year in reading age above the non-HIPPY children and were continuing to outperform on numeracy tests. All of the non-HIPPY children had attended Finlayson Park School from five years of age. Literacy and numeracy levels were carried out by teachers as part of on-going school assessments. Numeracy measurements were adjusted into a nine-point scale for statistical analysis. [This research was carried out by Lin Sauer, HIPPY NZ Manager, previously Coordinator, HIPPY Finlayson Park.]
  • Reading age comparison after one yearA further study (Sauer, 2010) looked at HIPPY graduates in Year 8 of schooling and compared literacy and numeracy assessment results with national achievement. Results showed that, compared with the national achievement, the HIPPY graduates were more highly represented in the group working ‘above expectation’ and less represented in the group working below their expected level.
  • Surveys from parents of children completing HIPPY in 2003 and 2004 showed that: The activities and role play were effective in preparing children for school (HIPPY New Zealand Surveys, 2003 and 2004).
  • Information provided by the Flaxmere Project, Ministry of Education.

OUTCOMES: Research on HIPPY Parents 

The research on outcomes for HIPPY parents in New Zealand is less detailed and, to date, the focus of research has been on the parents’ involvement in educational activities for both themselves and their children.  This is indicative of the programme’s emphasis on bringing school-related activities into the home (Younger, 2003).
  • In a New Zealand study, BarHava-Monteith, Harre & Field (2003, cited in Younger, 2003) assessed the benefits of HIPPY to parents, caregivers and tutors by comparing HIPPY parents with a control group. The results showed that HIPPY caregivers were significantly more involved in educational activities, including: Involvement on school boards and parent-teacher associations; assisting on school trips; employment as teacher aides; use of the library with their child; attending school functions; enrolment in adult education classes. Measures in attitudes to parenting showed no difference between the two groups as all parents indicated positive parenting attitudes.


Data provided by parents shows that:
  • HIPPY increases parental educational activities (BarHava-Monteith et al, 1999b; Younger, 2003); helps the development of supportive relationships; increases the understanding of child development; improves personal skills such as time management and problem solving (Gotching, 2000); has a positive effect on parenting skills and family well-being; increases community involvement and employment for HIPPY tutors (Younger, 2003).
  • Surveys from parents of children completing HIPPY in 2003 and 2004 showed that: HIPPY was culturally accepting; the activities and role play were effective in preparing children for school; HIPPY increased parent-child interaction; tutors were supportive during home visits; the group meetings were informative, and a time of sharing; HIPPY helped parental confidence to be involved in their child’s school (HIPPY NZ Surveys, 2003 & 2004).
What Parents Say

What Hippy Parents Say What HIPPY parents say

Research into the Effectiveness of HIPPY 

HIPPY Kids - Attendance rates in High SchoolMare (2003, citing a study by Ramey & Ramey, 1998) examined HIPPY against each of six components that Ramey and Ramey had previously highlighted as necessary for an intervention programme to be successful:
  • Developmental timing (programmes which begin earlier and last longer are more effective): As a two-year programme beginning when the child is between 3½ and 4½ years, HIPPY is a relatively long intervention and is maximally effective for achieving good school readiness outcomes.
  • Programme intensity (more intensive programmes produce greater positive effects, and where participation is greater and more regular, the progress is also greater): Weekly contact with parents and caregivers through alternating home visits and group meetings, and daily activities between parent and child, ensures HIPPY both requires and supports active, regular involvement.
  • Direct provision of learning experiences (where children receive direct educational experiences the benefits are greater and more enduring than where only the parent receives the intervention): The scaffolded materials focusing on language, discrimination and problem solving, are practised between HIPPY Tutor and parent, and then the parent puts this into practice with their child. HIPPY curriculum and materials provided direct teaching and learning experiences for both parent and child.
  • Progress in Maths - HIPPY comparisonProgramme breadth and flexibility (the effects of the intervention are greater when more services are offered and where there are more routes to enhance development): HIPPY not only focuses on school readiness skills for children, it also increases family access to other services through the home-visiting tutor, and through the parent and caregiver participation in centre-based group meetings which provide enrichment and parenting support.
  • Individual differences in benefit gained from a programme (those with the lowest levels of education show the greatest benefit from educational interventions): HIPPY works with families whose children are considered to be ‘educationally at risk’ through lower levels of parental education, lower family income, etc. The use of modelling and roleplay provides support to families with literacy or English difficulties.
  • Environmental maintenance of development (that the benefits of the programme will ‘fade out’): HIPPY is designed to create development not only in the children, but also in the parents. Parents develop a belief in the value of education as well as a belief in themselves as their children’s first and most important educator. Parents are able to initiate, support and maintain their children’s development and positive attitudes to education.

What people say about HIPPY

Published Reports

HIPPY Annual Evaluation Report 2019
HIPPY Annual Evaluation Report 2018
HIPPY Book of Evidence 2020
HIPPY Book of Evidence 2018
HIPPY Book of Evidence 2017