Enhancing learning in early childhood within the family: evaluation of practice and theory in a multi-cultural context

Gilley, Tim (2002) Enhancing learning in early childhood within the family: evaluation of practice and theory in a multi-cultural context. PhD thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


This thesis provides an analysis of a particular approach to enhancing learning in early childhood within the family. It involves an evaluation of practice and theory in an educationally disadvantaged and multi-cultural community. The Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) has a 30 year history and was inttoduced into Australia in 1998 by the Brotherhood of St Laurence. It is a two-year intensive program with four and five-year-old children and their families. Current understanding of the importance of learning in the early years, and intensive adult-child communication, explain why programs such as HIPPY which engage parents as teachers of their young children can be effective. Early learning experiences are at home. Later programs in school often appear to be inadequate to redress early disadvantage because they intervene too late and lack the resources to provide the necessary adult-to-child input. The research reported here was an evaluation of the second intake of 33 children (32 families) into HIPPY in Australia. A triangulation research method involved (a) participant observation of the program, (b) interviews with stakeholders, and (c) an assessment of children in the program and in a matched comparison group. Direct testing and teacher assessment of children was undertaken in the areas of general development, literacy, numeracy and school behaviour during the children's first and second years of schooling. The research findings indicated that the program was well implemented at a number of different levels and that the overseas model can be successfully implemented in multi-cultural Australian conditions. The approach to the diverse language backgrounds of families was a major area of successful adaptation from the standard model. Both qualitative and quantitative data analysis indicated that the program enhanced children's school progress. The study identified lessons for future evaluation studies of the program in Australia. The research findings indicate an encouraging start for HIPPY in Australia. In broader terms, the study points to the potential importance to disadvantaged children of well implemented home-based early childhood education programs.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/15286
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1301 Education Systems
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (Australia), Evaluation, parent participation, early childhood education
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