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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Bringing preschool home

Adriana Fuentes, left, is learning child-raising strategies from home visitor Brenda Richards. Photo: Washington Monthly

By the first day of kindergarten, children with educated, affluent parents are far readier for school success than children from low-income families, writes Anne Kim in the Washington Monthly.  Instead of trying to get disadvantaged kids into preschool, a nonprofit called Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) brings early learning to low-income mothers.

Adriana Fuentes, an Army wife in Virginia, is raising a four-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter. Brenda Richards, a home visitor for Fairfax County Public Schools, visits every week.

Richards pulls out a big plastic box she takes on all of her visits. The box is like Mary Poppins’ magical carpet bag, except it’s filled with props for this week’s activities, rather than a birdcage and a hat stand. On the agenda this week: making homemade “Play-doh” out of flour and salt, learning about gravity and recognizing shapes. . . . Richards opens a container of pre-made clay to demonstrate math activities using the dough. They practice cutting the dough into two pieces, then four. “I wouldn’t have thought to do any of this,” said Fuentes, holding a plastic knife. “I wouldn’t know how to teach him.”

Fuentes applied for Head Start, but ended up on a long wait list.

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