Why Home Visits Are Critical to Student Success
Very few teachers do not understand the importance of creating a partnership with parents to educate their students, but it can be difficult at times to establish contact with parents in this busy day and age. So, how can a teacher convey a sincere desire to work alongside parents to bring out the best in a student?
This where the home visit can be critical. Not only does a home visit allow a teacher to better understand a student’s home life and how it impacts school performance, but it has the potential to bridge any gaps in a culture that may be hindering a student.
California State at Sacramento did a study of fourteen schools whose teachers conducted home visits before the start of school. What they found was that the visits set the stage for reducing discipline issues, improving parental involvement, boosting positive feelings about school and improving student performance.
- Forming close partnerships between parents and teachers.
- Sets the tone for positive communication during the school year.
- Reassures the student that the teacher cares about his/her welfare.
- Helps to bridge any cultural differences that may hinder learning.
Visit in the Home
The traditional visit has been for the teacher to set an appointment with the family before school starts. Often, more than one of the student’s teachers may visit at the same time, which has the advantage of making the visit as convenient for the parents as possible.
Because the visit is in the home, the parents, especially those from another culture, may feel less intimidated than meeting in a classroom. Many times it can lead the family to share the traditions that are important to them, helping the teacher to understand the student’s perspective better.
Visit on Neutral Ground
Some parents are not comfortable having a stranger in their home, so meeting at a fast food restaurant or a coffee shop can be an excellent alternative. One teacher from Washington, D.C., said, “These visits are the most direct way to get the parents’ help. We’re able to gain their trust. It makes the connection instant and so much deeper.”
Preparing for a positive home visit is essential for a teacher to establish a foundational relationship with parents from the beginning. Many schools compensate the teachers for the visits and provide training to create a successful visit.
Project Appleseed is a program aimed at improving public school involvement that ties in with home visits. They encourage schools to host an open house picnic in the first week of school for parents and anyone from the community. This allows the parents to see the school firsthand. The second week is a breakfast for families, students, teachers, and administrators to allow everyone to get to know one another better. The third week is an evaluation of how well the school is reaching out to parents. And, finally, the last week is an invitation to the parents to take the Appleseed pledge to volunteer 10 hours per week at the school and to read to their children for 15 minutes each day.