By Alison Haining, Reception Teacher and mum of 2.
I sat and tried to work out how many home visits I have done as a Reception teacher......... 6 years teaching reception children, between 15 and 30 children each year. I worked out it was somewhere in the region of 150. Which made it all the more ironic that I was immensely nervous when it was my turn to be visited at home by my daughter’s teacher.
As a teacher, I loved home visits. They gave me a huge insight into a child’s background and gave me an opportunity to begin to build a relationship with both the child and their parent(s) both of which I believe are equally important. By visiting a child in their home environment, I was able to find out so much more about them than I could from having them in the classroom.
From a home visit, I could gain an insight into their behaviour, their ability to listen and talk and their confidence. I was also able to start building a picture of their home-life and their interests. This made made it a lot easier to tailor provision at school and support the parents.
A home visit was also an opportunity for the parents to talk to me about any concerns they had or to share any private details, whether it be a medical condition, concerns about toilet training or separation anxiety.
It also gave me the opportunity to introduce some expectations I have as an early years practitioner, such as regular reading at home, practising self-care such as getting dressed independently......and even not having a dummy when coming to school.
The most important part however was having a shared experience with the child, so that when they took their first steps into my classroom, they recognised me as a person that had been welcomed into their home. For those children that struggled with transition into school, we were able to chat about their dog or the favourite toy they had shown me at home.
Having always reassured parents that I was there to meet the child and not to give parents marks out of 10 for tidiness, I found myself frantically hoovering my house on the morning of my daughter’s visit. I also made biscuits. Lots of biscuits. (I’m still feeding the remnants to the birds on a daily basis). My husband thought I was pretty mad. There was no need for me to be nervous, but I really was. On reflection, I think I went into baking overdrive for a number of reasons...
I know how important a parent/teacher relationship can be and I wanted my relationship to get off to a good start. I really wanted them to like me, and more importantly my little girl.
I knew that the home visit signified the start of a whole chapter in our lives. My daughter was more than ready to start school, both emotionally and developmentally, but I knew that once she started school, our lives would change. This person coming to my house was going to be a huge influence on my daughter.
My daughter’s new teacher knew that I was a teacher myself, so I wanted her to know that (with biscuits at the ready) I would be supportive and understanding and not judgemental.
All in all the home visit went well. The teacher spoke to me about my daughter - her strengths, likes, dislikes and pre-school experience. The LSA (Learning Support Assistant) spent time getting to know my daughter and made some observations about where she was developmentally. It lasted about 20 mins and thankfully they were grateful for a cup of tea - and my biscuits!