Home visits – good or a waste of time?

We had our home visit today from Pickle’s reception teacher and Teaching Assistant.  We were both very excited about it and saw it as a great opportunity to properly introduce ourselves, our home and how we feel about school (both of us).  I haven’t always felt like this about home visits though and I know some of you aren’t big fans of the idea.

 Years ago, prior to having my children I remember a close friend discussing having a home visit for school.  I was aghast at the idea, feeling it was an invasion of privacy and also a complete waste of money of resource.  4 years down the line from having my daughter I’ve had time to come around to the idea, I’ve spoken to other mum’s who experienced it last year (when their children started a pre-school attached to a primary school) and everyone was quite positive about the experience.  I have since found myself looking forward to the opportunity to meet Pickle’s teacher and having 1 to 1 time (albeit only 30 minutes) which I feel I won’t get very often in the throes of a school term.   However, I know, through conversations I’ve eavesdropped on and ones I have had on twitter that many people find them odd, especially those from Wales, Ireland and Scotland where home visits are not done or from people whose school opted not to do them.

 I found this useful bit of feedback from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers about home visits which shed some light on the reason behind it. 

“For parents with no prior link to the school, entering school premises and meeting teachers can be a daunting prospect, particularly if their own experiences of education were less than positive. Parents may feel more secure and in control in their own homes, and therefore able to talk more freely. In familiar surroundings, they may also find it easier to remember important facts about their children’s medical history, their likes and dislikes and their routines”.

 It also highlights the idea to strengthen the link between school and home.

 “Practitioners working in the foundation stage are well aware of the importance of making links with children’s parents and families. Parents are their children’s first and most enduring educators, and so when practitioners work with them the results are hugely beneficial to children’s development and learning. Partnership is about sharing knowledge and understanding of children, both from the parents’ point of view and from the teacher’s.”

 there was a lot more information about in the document and you can read it here. http://www.atl.org.uk/Images/The%20early%20years.pdf

 I know some people are quite suspicious of home visits and I imagine under different circumstances than my own, some people may feel intimidated or embarrassed about having to host a teacher in their home.  I know that a teacher couldn’t help but notice and perhaps take note of those children being raised under difficult circumstances but from my perspective (which I know isn’t universal) I can only see that as a positive thing for a child.  If you’re teacher can recognise your background as a challenge then that can only mean they can put in more preparation or understanding during their schooling.

 Our visit was very useful.  We had filled in a booklet together about a week ago with basic information alongside favourite books, favourite things to do, sports, extracurricular activities and an opportunity for Pickle to write her name and draw a picture of herself.  Then when her teacher and TA arrived I sat down with her teacher whilst the TA took a picture of Pickle for the front of her book and then helped her to draw a picture of her family.  She loves drawing and colouring in, so she was in her element.  This gave me an opportunity to find out what I needed to do on the first day of school.  Where to take her, what to take (did she need her PE kit and book bag on the first day – the answer was no).  I found out whether most people were doing packed lunches or not, what was suitable, reminded to include two drinks (one for class and one with her lunch) and I was able to ask all those niggling stupid questions of a new school mum such as whether someone would help her open a Frube or similar dessert at lunchtime.  I was also able to tell her about the after school club she’d be attending for 2 days and this was noted down.

 Her teacher talked me through the different start times on the first two days she starts, talked about the opportunity for parents to help out in the classroom if they want to (they have a roster, but it isn’t a requirement to do it) and she gave me stickers to use to fill in whenever Pickle does something of academic note (e.g. She wrote the letter “K” without help, or she was able to add up 2 pieces of chocolate and 3 pieces of chocolate).  This helps the teacher know that information she may have taught in class is being used in application at home and she’ll stick the sticker in her school book.  I was also given a “Proud Sheet” as our school will have a weekly proud bench at the assembly and children will be commended for achievements they have made that may not be academic, such as being brave at the dentist, or helping mummy when a sibling is sick or learning to swim without armbands.  I was asked about allergies, restrictions to her diet and religious requirements as well.

 There were a few admin documents as well. Pickle and I had signed a Home/School agreement promising certain things and the teacher advised me on what to do if she was ill, who I had to call and any documentation I need.  Whilst I was doing all of this Pickle had taken the TA to the far end of the house to show her the chickens and tell her their names. My mother in law (who was looking after her when I headed off to work) also chatted with her.

 They were supposed to stay for 15 minutes but the whole visit took about 30 minutes and I feel so much happier for having it and I’m sure my daughter did too (I had to rush out the door to work, so will ask her tonight). 

 Did you have a home visit? Was yours as positive as mine?  Do you find the whole home visit a bit strange?

 Would love to hear your views on it.

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About freefallinginto40

I am 40 years old. I blog about how I'm coping with my "new" age at www.freefallinginto.com . I'm a married mother to two after years of infertility. I have a 6 year old called Pickle and a 3 year old called The Monster. I work 4 days a week. We are also planning a move to the country! I blog about that at www.ourmovetothecountry.wordpress.com
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2 Responses to Home visits – good or a waste of time?

  1. Dez says:

    I’m really pleased that you found the home visit a positive and beneficial experience. This is the second year out school has done them and after each visit you realise how essential they are. Our Reception team also went out to visit the children in their playgroups/nurseries, then the children spent 2 afternoons at the school and finally the home visit. With 90 children in Reception the visit is the mainly the only time when the Teacher, TA, Parents and.child get the chance to openly discuss their concerns. It’s a shame more schools don’t offer them.

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