Responses to an early childhood educational intervention with disadvantaged families: an exploratory study

Godfrey, Celia (2006) Responses to an early childhood educational intervention with disadvantaged families: an exploratory study. Other Degree thesis, Victoria University.


Recent decades have seen an expansion of the early intervention field, particularly with children who are deemed at risk of adverse outcomes due to socio-economic or other disadvantage. Early educational intervention has taken many forms, but those involving both the child and parent together have been shown to have the strongest effects. Additionally, intervention in the early years, enhancing the child’s ability to engage with formal schooling, has been found to have a lasting impact not just on the educational trajectory of the individual, but also on the life opportunities which become available. This thesis reports an investigation of the implementation of the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program in a regional city in Victoria, Australia. Here, for the first time, this intensive, graduated, two-year program was delivered to a group of Australian-born families experiencing trans-generational poverty and educational disadvantage. The administering agency trained para-professionals from the community who undertook fortnightly home visits to instruct parents in a standard curriculum designed to enhance the learning readiness of their children. Parents, in turn, delivered the program in daily sessions to their children aged four and five. On alternate fortnights this instruction was provided at group meetings for parents. Following previous research, it was expected that HIPPY would result in positive outcomes in terms of cognitive and socio-emotional functioning for children. The experience of parents and staff were also explored as part of the process evaluation. Implementation issues were documented, and their relevance to program outcomes was considered. Analysis of complementary qualitative and quantitative data showed that children made substantial gains in several areas. Interviews with parents revealed that HIPPY was enjoyable and achievable, and contributed to children’s increased confidence, early learning, and familiarity with schoolwork. Formal psychological testing demonstrated clear gains for children in terms of their early school skills and socioemotional development, although results in the areas of general cognitive development, school readiness, and academic self-esteem were inconclusive. Process evaluation found that HIPPY was relevant and feasible in this population and highlighted several key aspects of program implementation. Findings are discussed in the light of international literature in the early intervention area, and implications for future practice and research are drawn out.

Additional Information

Doctor of Psychology

Item type Thesis (Other Degree thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 380000 Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences
Historical > RFCD Classification > 330000 Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords early childhood education, early educational intervention, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, Victoria, Australia, disadvantaged children
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