Tara O’Brien, left, who teaches seventh grade math at Traner Middle School in Reno, chats with student Freddy Ramirez Diaz and his mother, Maria, during a home visit. Studies have shown that... (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)
How to Develop Effective Teacher Home Visits
After a three year study of 14 schools engaging in teacher home visits for students, researchers at the California State University at Sacramento (CSUS) found evidence that home visits could increase student performance, jumpstart parent involvement, reduce discipline problems and increase overall positive attitudes toward school. If done correctly, a home visit program can give teachers, parents and students a better opportunity for connection, communication and collaboration.
Why are home visit so beneficial?
Parents stay in their comfort zone. Meeting in a classroom can be intimidating while talking over the phone can be distancing and impersonal. By having a teacher travel to the student’s house, parents may be more likely to voice their concerns, speak candidly, and let the teacher into their lives.
Closer partnerships, positive communication. Many times when a teacher contacts a parent, it is regarding an issue with low grades or poor classroom behavior. Home visits give parents and teachers the opportunity to meet simply to talk and collaborate for the benefit of the child they both care about.
Meetings break the “cycle of blame.” Especially with low-performing students, parents and teachers can begin to blame each other for the failings of their children. Home visits help to put a human face to a name and turn finger pointing into teamwork and understanding.
The teacher learns more about their students. A study conducted at Missouri State University found that the biggest benefit of home visits was a better understanding of the child’s environment and the how that environment might impact the child’s learning in the classroom.
Students realize they have a network of support. Children have reported feeling a sense of relief when their parents and teachers meet. Children take comfort in knowing that their teacher understands their home situation and in knowing that what they do in the classroom may have consequences at home.
Parents are more likely to become involved. When parents are more familiar with their child’s teacher, they are more likely to become involved with their child’s learning and more involved in school activities and volunteering. In this way, a few well-placed home visits can enrich the entire school community.
Our Tools for Teacher Home Visits
Beginning a home visit program and bridging the home-school gap does take an amount of planning, training, and funding to be effective. Initially, teachers often voice concerns about the safety of traveling to strange homes, what they should do during a 30-to-90 minute session, and how to draw appropriate boundaries during the visits. Many other teachers who had never conducted a home visit had concerns about language barriers, parental reactions to visits, and fitting visits into their full schedules. However, after training for the visits and participating in the home visit programs, the majority of teachers found home school visits an effective and innovative tool.
Here are some ways you can make your teacher home visit more effective:
Use Parental Involvement Report Card as a self-diagnostic tool for parents. The Parental Involvement Report Card is intended to help parents rate their contributions to their child's success at school. Teachers can use these 31 questions as a guide to discover some of the ways that parents can help their child at home and at school. Schools can distribute the Parental Involvement Report Card to all families by ordering Project Appleseed's Parental Involvement Toolbox.
Connect parents to learning by utilizing the Parental Involvement Pledge. Title I schools must include the Parental Involvement Pledge learning compact in parent/teacher meetings as it relates to the child’s achievement as required by Title I, Section 1116, Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. Deploy the Pledge to discuss student progress during teacher home visits. Use it to explain the school's high academic standards and high expectations for all students. Teachers can use the Pledge to recruit volunteers. Schools that are most successful in engaging parents and other family members in support of their children's learning look beyond traditional definitions of parent involvement -participating in a parent teacher organization or signing quarterly report cards-to a broader conception of parents as full partners in the education of their children.
In a U.S. Department of Education study, a majority of Title I schools indicate that compacts help promote family involvement. Title I principals were asked to rate the helpfulness of compacts in achieving different types of school and family outcomes. Responses tended to differ by school poverty, with the highest-poverty schools finding compacts most helpful.In the highest-poverty schools, 85 percent of principals found Title I compacts helpful in supporting homework completion.
About 8 out of 10 principals in high-poverty Title I schools rated compacts as helpful, as did a majority of principals in low-poverty schools.
Across all schools, about 30 percent of the principals considered compacts “very helpful”.
Principals perceived compacts as having the greatest impact on homework completion, school climate, student discipline, and reading at home—factors that are amenable to intervention by school-family partnership activities.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) redefines high-quality professional development for elementary and secondary education. Whether you’re a brand-new or seasoned educator or parent leader, we have the evidence-based knowledge you need to get up to speed, perform at your best, and get the most out of parents. Project Appleseed provides an economical opportunity to bring Kevin Walker - our founder and a national parent leader - to your school community. Mr. Walker will help you engage families in constructing effective teacher/home visits by nurturing relationships with parents and families.
Traveling Family Engagement Workshop: Project Appleseed's professional development is not a stand alone activity rather than a journey that is intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven and family focused. We have three ways to help you practice effective family engagement by bringing Kevin Walker to your school community.
Online Training via Skype: Our flexible Skype Professional Development options offers two one hour sessions scheduled at your request. Download our slideshow presentation of Project Appleseed's program, Strong Families, Strong Schools, for more information on how we engage families.
An overview of the Six Slices of Parental Involvement. Guidance on how to engage parents. Each session is meant to offer solutions for educators and parents tailored to each school or district’s needs. Features the implementation of the Parental Involvement Toolbox in your school community and the metrics for parent engagement success.
An introduction to Title I parental involvement and planning and evaluating your Title I Program.
Follow-up utilizes access to Powerpoint Central, a library of Powerpoint presentations on parent engagement by education experts from across the country.
Follow-up features ongoing two-way support by phone, email.