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Preschool: Families and Programs

About Child Development: PreshoolPages 1 | 2

Home Visiting

Home visiting can be one of the most effective ways to promote a strong relationship between parents and early childhood educators. It is a unique opportunity for educators to get to know their students and their families. It is a true honor to share a child’s life and to be welcomed into his home. Equally, it is a pleasure for parents to know how interested educators are in their child. Home visits are a great way to form a strong partnership between teachers and parents.

There are many benefits to home visits.

  • Increased parent involvement
  • Building strong connections between home and child care that support a child’s success
  • A chance for educators to view the child in her home/cultural environment
  • The opportunity to discuss the teacher’s goals for the child and parents’ expectations
  • A chance to discuss any needs parents may have
  • A chance to continue educational efforts in the home by bringing learning activities, books, or other suggestions to the parents
  • A chance for parents to have one-on-one time with the teacher
  • A chance for teachers to focus on one child and his family
  • Opportunities for the child to share her home life with her teacher
  • Times when teachers can model and reinforce positive parent/child interactions

caregiver and momThe ultimate outcomes for home visits are increased parent involvement that will create a union between home and schools. This can improve a child’s self-esteem and lead to educational success for children.

There are different kinds of home visits with different purposes. Head Start teachers visit homes when the school year starts to introduce themselves to the child and his family, to explain a little of the year’s planned activities, and to help children have an easy transition into the program. Other programs focus on facilitating a healthy pregnancy for teen mothers or providing nutritional education. Some visits might teach parents the basics of child development or target family literacy needs. Still other programs use home visits to try to prevent problems, such as unplanned pregnancies or child abuse.

There are some basic guidelines for home visiting.

  • Set up a time that is convenient for all. Teachers should be aware of working parents’ schedules, and parents need to be thoughtful of teachers’ personal lives outside of school.
  • Inform parents of the purpose for the visit. What are the goals and expectations for the visit?
  • Prepare. Home visitors should thoroughly prepare for the visit by getting directions to the house and gathering all materials needed for activities or social service needs parents may have. Prepare an activity such as cooking, reading a book, making a craft, or discussing a specific topic.
  • Be flexible. The planned activities may not work for that visit or that family. A parent could be sick, and the visit may need to be rescheduled. A parent may have a long list of questions or specific concerns that take over the discussion. A child may not want to read the book you chose for the visit.
  • The visit should be no longer than an hour and can be scheduled weekly, monthly, or quarterly depending on goals for the program.
  • Respect the home. A visitor is not there to judge the cleanliness of the home or to make changes in the child’s routine. The visitor is there to value the home culture and to acknowledge the family’s strengths and uniqueness.
  • Include extended family members, such as the child’s grandparents, whenever possible.
  • Observe and listen. The visitor should observe family routines and interactions. Listen to concerns and comments parents have. Make sure the parent is involved in the activity. They may feel the visitor is there for the child and leave the room or only watch the activity. This is a time for parents to interact with the teacher as well.
  • End the visit on a positive note. The visitor should express her gratitude for being welcomed into the home and plan for the next visit.

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