HIPPY Montréal

Parents are their children's first – and best – teachers, and the ideal time for kids to start learning is in their earliest years. HIPPY is a home-based, preschool education program that builds on the bond between parents and children. For families who do not have the education, knowledge or language skills to prepare their preschoolers to enter school in Quebec, HIPPY Montréal provides tools and support that allow parents to make a real difference.

A photo of a woman reading to a young girl.

HIPPY Montréal

HIPPY Montréal – the first French-English bilingual program – was started as a collaboration of the Salvation Army, The Centre for Literacy and Elizabeth House. Generously supported by the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation, HIPPY Montreal began serving 40 families in the Montreal districts of Nôtre-Dame de Grâce (NDG) and Côtes-des-Neiges in 2005.

In 2008-2009, HIPPY Montreal served 133 children from 114 families. A group of 11 home visitors – other parents from the community or former participants in HIPPY – delivered the program in family homes, supported by a coordinator and a program assistant.

The Centre has raised enough funds to maintain a reduced HIPPY program in NDG for 2009-2010. We have formed a new organization to take over management through a transition process, and have begun discussions with a vibrant local community organization about becoming the host for HIPPY Montréal. This year we expect to serve up to 60 NDG families.

2009-2010 will see the creation of a new HIPPY-Rive-Sud satellite site managed jointly by the South Shore Reading Council and Premiers Pas Ville Lemoyne and serving 12 families.


How HIPPY works

The HIPPY program offers structured 30-week curricula in English or French – one program each for 3-, 4- and 5-year old children – in the family home. Every week, our home visitors deliver activity packets and related books to participating parents, teaching them how to follow different daily activities with their children and what skills are being developed. Parents are expected to spend 15-30 minutes each day with their children, doing the activities proposed in the HIPPY curriculum.

After following the program for 30 weeks, parents will have learned:

A young girl receives an award.
  • How to support their children at various stages of their development
  • How to identify the strengths, weaknesses and interests of their children
  • How to maintain good working habits through better time management and organization
  • About the Quebec school system, and what skills their children will need to succeed in school
  • How to become active participants in their children's schooling, and support their children's academic learning
  • How to collaborate with various social and academic supports – both in the community and at school – to ensure their children's continued success

Parents and children also participate in monthly group meetings and gatherings for special occasions or holidays. Speakers introduce community resources and the Quebec school system and address other questions raised by participants. Group meetings help break isolation for parents by building a supportive community.



HIPPY Montréal engages families through workshops, outings and special events. Events in 2008-2009 included:

  • Outings to the McCord Museum
  • Outdoor winter activities at Kent Park
  • Mid-term carnival with games and supper; end-of-year graduation party
  • An alpha-French course for program parents, including workshops on how Quebec schools work and how to get involved with their children's schools and education (offered in partnership with CREP, Centre de ressources éducatives et pédagogiques, of the Commission scolaire de Montréal)
  • Information sessions for parents on child development, children's self-esteem, learning disabilities, family discipline, and preparing children for Kindergarten


An efficacy study funded by the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon has found that the HIPPY-Montréal pre-school family literacy program, located in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and serving the N.D.G. and Côtes-des-Neiges communities, has contributed significantly to the eventual success of disadvantaged and/or immigrant children aged 3 to 5 when they enter the school system.

The primarily qualitative study, The Montreal Home Intervention for Parents of Pre-School Youngsters (HIPPY): An efficacy study (June 2009), conducted by Lynn Butler-Kisber, Joanne Kingsley and Sylvia Sklar, provides a comprehensive understanding of how the HIPPY program operates within the multicultural context of Montreal; how the contextual features of the program and the roles of the various participants--children, parents, Home Visitors and Coordinator--contribute to the program; and how the three-year-old children in the Fall 2006 cohort progress through the program. The resulting recommendations should provoke reflection among educators, parents, community workers, and funders.

The Butler-Kisber-Kingsley-Sklar study includes a detailed literature review of studies recognizing (1) the importance of parents in the education of their children; (2) the greater efficacy of early interventions compared to later remediation; and (3) the crucial role of family commitment to the efficacy of intervention programs. This study, the first to examine a HIPPY program qualitatively and holistically, finds that

“HIPPY children made important gains in early literacy and numeracy skills as well as in the socialization skills needed for success in school.”
(Butler-Kisber, Kingsley, and Sklar, The Montreal Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-School Youngsters Project (HIPPY): An efficacy study, p. 50 .)

Evidence from the pre- and post-Peabody Test, parent questionnaires, researcher observations, and anecdotal material from HIPPY-Montréal children entering kindergarten all corroborated these gains. Since a body of research has shown that ensuring positive learning experiences for children in the earliest years is likely to produce better outcomes than providing remediation at a later age, these gains should have a significant impact on HIPPY children’s eventual success and perseverance in school.

The researchers were particularly impressed by the dedication of the Coordinator and the Home Visitors serving HIPPY families, and by the commitment of most families to the program, even when they were exhausted by their struggles to establish themselves in a new country and their children were tired after time spent in daycare.

See also the follow-up study, Evaluation of Outcomes.


Get involved with HIPPY!!

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We need volunteers to help with childcare during parent workshops, with office work and database maintenance, and with the occasional translation of program materials. If you have expertise you could share with HIPPY families – on child development, community enterprise, language training, or cooking and crafts – please bring your ideas to our project coordinator.


An international program

HIPPY was developed by Dr. Avima Lombard in 1969 at the National Council of Jewish Women Research Institute for Innovation in Education (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel). Originally designed to serve the under-educated and to help integrate immigrants (refugees), its curriculum continues to be adapted to local programs. Internationally, HIPPY serves over 22,000 families in Australia, Canada, El Salvador, Germany, Israel, New Zealand and the United States, with possible expansion into China, Portugal, Singapore and Zimbabwe. HIPPY Canada was founded in 2001 – with a Vancouver site actually in place since 1998 – and is offered in urban and aboriginal communities across the country.


HIPPY in the Media


Thanks to Our Supporters

HIPPY Montréal thanks all of its wonderful supporters, including:

Abe and Ruth Feigelson Foundation
Borough of Côte-des-Neiges/Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Caisse populaire Desjardins Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Centre de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS) Cavendish
Charles Cusson Foundation
Children's Emergency Foundation
La famile Michelin (Steve & Rob Memorial Hockey Tournament)
Fondation du Grand MontréalLa Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon
Great-West, London Life and Canada-Vie
Gustav Levinschi Foundation
Hay Foundation
Lire, c’est grandir / Raise-a-Reader
Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles (MICC)
Zeller Family Foundation

Contact Us

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For more information about HIPPY Montréal, please contact:

Program Coordinator
Tel: (514) 486-1486
E-mail: hippymontreal@bellnet.ca

For information on national and international initiatives, please see:

HIPPY Canada

HIPPY International

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