11 Basics to include in a Successful Home Visit
Preparing for home visits can be a very scary ordeal. Especially if you are a first time teacher or new to an area. Here are 11 Basics to Home visits are a great way to introduce students to a new classroom or teacher. We need to know the basics to survive one. I found that home visits were especially useful for first time students in a classroom or school.
Getting Parents Involved
I would introduce parents to the idea. The introduction would be something like: “I like to do home visits to help me get to know my students better. If you prefer we could meet at school. ” This way if someone was extremely uncomfortable with it, they had a way out. In my nine years of serving, I think I had two parents choose to meet at school. Everyone else was eager for me to meet their students at home.
I found home visits help me to learn more about my students. Often, I learned about the family structure, and what the kids liked, by asking them to show me their room. I found out how far they were from school, so could that be a possible hindrance to arrival time. I saw how parents disciplined sometime as well. It also allowed the students to meet me in their comfort zone. It also allowed me to see them in their comfort zone. This gave me a picture into what I might see once my kids become comfortable in my classroom.
The best way to have an awesome home visit is to be prepared. This means to make sure you have everything you need with you so that you can answer any questions a parent might have. I often had a home visit folder all ready for each of my students. The packet helped me stay on track. It also helped me to make the parents feel more informed and ready for the first day.
Here are 11 items or practices to use for a successful home visit.
1 A Preschool Introduction Letter
In this letter I like to include a short section about myself the teacher. I include my education, my history as a teacher, and a little about myself as a person. This simple act can help the parents to feel more connected and feel more open to me. I also include a short section in my letter about my expectations for them as parents. An example of this might be that I include a portion about open communication.
2 A school handbook
This is extremely important. This way they can look over the handbook before the first day. I also take the time to highlight any parts of the handbook that I find especially important to the parents. For instance, drop off, and pick up policies. First day information is also key. My first day was a parent day. I did this to help ease the kids into the classroom. This also gave me a chance to talk to all the parents as a whole. I usually addressed policies, schedule, and any expectations about programs. Programs I had included star student, reading buddies, or classroom volunteers.
3 The Print out of the Daily Routine
I give a copy to my parents so know what their students are doing through out the day. This also gives them a chance to ask me questions as well.
4 Student Information forms
I give them this to fill out early. This way I can collect it, and use the information to help prep my classroom. On the student information forms, I include the usual things like, name, age, address,phone numbers, etc. My Form includes things like favorite color, animal, t.v. time per day, bed time, wake time, favorite foods, etc. I get as much information as I can. If I have a bunch of students the like animals; then I can do a bunch of animal units through out the year. While parents fill out the form, I ask the students to show me their room.
I usually include a whole school year calendar, and a first month calendar. The whole school year calendar is important so they can start to plan out their year. The first month calendar is useful then I can talk about any special parts or dates for the first month. This will hopefully give them time to take off for field trips, plan volunteer time, or time to buy snacks. My monthly calendar was also my snack calendar. I usually took time to discuss the snack policy. If your school has a hot lunch calendar, this might be another great thing to include. That way you can discuss how the hot lunch program works if there is one.
6 Contact Information
I usually printed out a single sheet for parents that included all of my contact information. I included; the school number, my cell phone, because I didn’t have a classroom phone, my e-mail, and the classroom web page. I also included other important numbers. If you live in the northern states, you might want to include where to find snow day information. I find that I myself like quick reference sheets. I don’t like having to dig for numbers if I have a problem or concern. That is why I make one for parents. I have many who have appreciated that.
7 Informational Brochures
I provide a brochure on the importance of reading to their students. I even included a brochure from the local public library on programs that they offer for preschoolers.
Special Program Information- I had a star student program and a reading buddy program. I made sure to include information on each program as well as an example of each. I also made sure to discuss how each program worked, and what I expected from parents with these programs. Another program that is pretty popular is SHOW AND TELL. I discuss how I handle show and tell, and if kids are allowed to bring toys. This can be a sensitive topic with parents and students. I feel that it is easier handled one on one instead of in a group setting.
8 Flexible times
I find that parents have very unique schedules. Being flexible helps to make them more comfortable with you and with the whole Home Visitation. I try to stick to the schedule. If you have to miss, make sure you call and let them know. You want them to feel that their time is just as valuable as yours. Also include that you appreciate them taking time to help you better understand their student.
9 Personalized Information
At the conclusion of the Home Visit, I ask the parents to tell me their favorite thing about their student. Another question I ask is one thing that they feel is a struggle. Then I inquire if they have any information about their student that they feel is important for me to know. Maybe they have a blanket, that they are leaving home for the first time, and it will be a struggle. One student had health issues that affected her learning. This was a great time to let me know. This gave me ample preparedness time to set up a game plan before they even walk into my classroom.
10 A special toy from the classroom
The toy gets the student more involved and can help some become more open and share with you. Plus you may get a peek into their play life, and how they interact with others.
11 Thank You!
As a conclusion to my home visit, I always include a personalized thank you. I do this to demonstrate a true appreciation for the parents time, and it helps the students feel special. I like to keep it simple. Here is an example of what I have included in my thank yous in the past.
Thank you for the visit, and for allowing me into your home. I appreciate the chance to get to know you and your student better. I look forward to working with _________________ and you this year. Thank you for your time.
____________________.Abby Gaulke 2019
Now that you know the basics to any home visit, I hope you can truly appreciate that Home visits are a great way to get to know your students. A student’s home environment can help you understand challenges or strengths that face your student, and their family as well as their cultural . As teachers we know that things at home can greatly impact a students learning and behavior at school. This practice of home visits can give you a very valuable insight into a student’s life. I feel sad for teachers who have such large classes or great demands on their time. They don’t get the opportunity to do home visits. They are missing a crucial introduction to their students.
I hope that this post helps to shed some light on what to include on a home visit. This article should also help with what to talk about at your home visit. I wish that it sheds light on the importance of home visits and their role for a classroom. For more information and great ideas to include in your home visit, you can visit “Research Spotlight on Home,” Visits, by the NEA (National Education Association).
After you have successfully prepared for and completed all of your home visits, the next step is to continue those connections through out the year. To do this, I encourage my parents to attend the first day of preschool with their students. This eases the students into the classroom, by having mom and dad with them. Separation anxiety, may still happen, however, I find that it is less, because the kids get to experience a day with the support of mom and dad. Then they get to know friends with their parent.
In this way, I have now been to their home, and brought their home to school. These are great connections. I continue to make connections by doing an all about me week that first week of school. To learn all about that week. Please check out my post, ALL ABOUT ME!
What type of things do you bring with you on your home visit?