Israeli training course for parents gets a boost from Bill Clinton


An Israeli educational programme for preschool children has received “an unbelievable international response” after being name-checked by former US president Bill Clinton.

At the Democratic National Convention last week, Hillary Clinton’s husband praised her for bringing the Hippy (Home Instruction for Parents and Preschool Youngsters) initiative to the US.

The presidential candidate heard about the programme - which started in Tel Aviv in 1969 to help parents teach their children basic skills before primary school - while Mr Clinton was serving as president.

“She thought it’d work in Arkansas,” he told the crowd. “I said: ‘That’s great, what are we going to do about it?’

“She said: ‘Oh, I already did. I called the woman who started the programme; she’ll be here in about 10 days and help us get started.’

“Next thing you know I’m getting dragged around all these preschool graduations … watching these poor parents with tears in their eyes because they never thought they’d be able to help their kids learn.”

He said that 20 years later, “research has shown how well this programme works to improve readiness for school and academic achievement.”

Miriam Westheimer, Hippy’s international director, said it was “pretty thrilling” to have a former president speak glowingly about her programme, “but not surprising.

“We've worked with the Clintons for many years, and when there’s talk about her work in the field of early childhood, it comes up as one of her big accomplishments.”

Since the speech on July 27, she said Hippy had received enquiries from authorities in Kenya, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Bermuda about taking the programme to their countries.

“It’s exciting to get that level of recognition,” Ms Westheimer said.

She explained that “today, Hippy is one of several evidence-based programmes based in the US which are federally funded, but in those days, it was the first home-instructed programme.

“Early on, Hillary saw the power of working with parents and making sure they had the information and support they needed when their children were very young.”

The programme was founded in the late 1960s at the NCJW Research Institute for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is currently licensed by Yissum, Hebrew University's IP transfer company.

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