Home Visits for Teachers
There are many reasons, benefits, and downfalls of home visits for teachers. If you, your grade level, or your school is thinking about home-visits, here are a few things to consider:
Why Should I Do Home Visits in the First Place?
- It helps to really get to know your students – nothing teaches you about your students more quickly than being inside of their home. You can learn about the challenges that your students face, from not having a proper space to complete homework, to living in cramped quarters.
- It shows the parents and students that you care about them and where they come from. Take just a few minutes to visit a student’s home will teach you about the values and culture of their family. This builds rapport and sets the stage for future communication.
When Should You Do Home Visits?
The best time to do home visits is during the first few weeks of school, when students are on their best behavior and you don’t have any (or many) trouble-areas to address. Some teachers do home visits in place of the first parent-teacher conference (in the fall). Home visits can be conducted during or after school hours (around the time when parents are used to parent-teacher conferences). Avoid home visits during evening hours, especially if you are visiting areas that make you uncomfortable.
How Often Should I Complete a Home Visit?
Once per year per student is usually sufficient, as home visits require significant time and coordination. For certain students, or students whose parents have difficulty making it to school functions, two visits per year can be beneficial.
What Should You Do During a Home Visit?
Home visits should be positive and brief. You can follow a specific format to make you more comfortable. It’s a great opportunity to hand out and go over any class or school expectations and to check if the parents have questions. You will most likely be invited to see the student’s room – kids LOVE giving you the tour and will usually be very proud of their space. Take them up on this opportunity. Many families will offer you food or drink. It is up to you if you would like to accept these offers, but it will make families and students incredibly happy if you do. We’ve made a free home visit tracking sheet that you can check out here.
What if I Don’t Speak the Language or am Afraid to Make a Home Visit?
Often our students come from areas that we are uncomfortable with visiting. Remember that this is how the student lives, every day. To make yourself more comfortable, be sure to conduct the visits during the daytime. Bring a colleague or counselor/administrator to any student homes that you are uncomfortable visiting. If you do not speak the language, see if you can find someone in your school who can attend the visit with you as your translator. As long as the student is present, you should be able to communicate with the parent/s.
Are Parents Required to Agree to Home Visits?
Parents should agree to the visits ahead of time and should be given the option to not participate. You should never force a family into doing a home visit. If your school culture encourages home visits, parents will begin to view the experience as typical and you will have much better participation than if you attempt to be the only teacher in your school doing home visits.
What Should I Do if I Discover Something Disturbing During the Home Visit?
Report anything disturbing to your school administrator so that you can be given advice on next steps. Examples of this would be obvious drug paraphernalia in the home or signs of neglect. Very rarely home visits result in a report to Child Protective Services. Your student’s safety should always be your top priority.
Home visits are an excellent way to form deep, lasting bonds with your students and their parents. Although they can take time and effort to execute, they will give you insight that simply cannot be obtained from inside the four walls of your classroom.