Thursday, August 18, 2016

Home Visits: How I Make Them Happen

I am so excited to share what I’ve been working on with you all today! It's a little long, but I promise it's worth the read and I have a FREEBIE share for you at the end. 

Last year, I began home visits along with a few other teachers from my building. Home visits are not just for head start or preschool. They are a great way for teachers to get out in the community and make the first connection with families a positive one!

I have been spending some time the last couple of days getting prepared. I start by putting together little goody bags. 

 Inside, are a few things to get them thinking about back to school and build excitement for our year together.

Miniature composition books:

How cute, right? You can find them at Walgreens 6 /$1. It cost $4 for my entire class. I added a cover to encourage them to write or draw about their summer and to bring it to share with all of us on the 1st day.


These are from the dollar section at Target.  Still only totaling $5 for the whole class.


3 packs from the dollar section at Target. I’m still only totaling $8

Treat bags:

From the Dollar Tree. I only had to buy one pack, so total I spent $9 for my entire class.

Last, I printed and cut a set of flashcards to practice and review the facts they began learning last year.

After the bags are ready to go I print these letters on Astrobright paper.

The letter gives a little preview of all we’ll be learning together and gets them pumped about 1st grade! I also include important dates like Back to School Night. I print a few for the families that aren’t home when I stop by, as well. They just have a little extra line that says, “I’m sorry I missed you.”

Now, before you check out and think that you can’t find time for home visits or they’re unrealistic let me show you how we structure them at our school. I promise you will see the possibility.

When you think of home visits, you might think of days and days, or hours and hours, of time that you have to commit. You might picture stopping into each home and sitting down with every single family for who knows how long. That is not how home visits have to be. That's not how we do home visits. When we know something is important we have to begin thinking outside of the box.

This is how we’re able to make it happen:

I stop by, completely unscheduled. They have no idea that I'm coming. You might think this sounds crazy, but I promise it works. The visit is quick and informal and this is what makes it possible.

I knock on the door. Parents, or sometimes the child answers the door, and I say something like, "Hey, I'm your first grade teacher," or, "I'm your child's first grade teacher." I introduce myself and I say, "I'm just stopping by for a second. I wanted to drop off a little goody bag and let you know that I'm excited to start our first day together and that I'm excited that I get to meet you early." I give them the goody bag, maybe ask how their summer is going, the parents talk a little and that’s it. Done. I made my first family connection and I’m on to the next.

Here’s what has happened during these visits. Parents are blown away. I hear a lot of, "Wow, I can't believe you stopped by." or "We've never had a teacher stop by before and can’t believe you took the time." and “This is so cool that you’re doing this.” They're always really excited and surprised that we are coming to them rather than the other way around. It’s a really good feeling that were able to make this happen.

I have had families invite me in and I always let them know that I have to go visit so many other families and I really appreciate it, but that I am unable to come in. They're always really understanding. This keeps your visits short, but still has the same impact.

The time spend allows you to get to know families and build a relationship that will last for the rest of the year. The families and kids feel at ease having seen me, knowing that I care, and that I am dedicated to teaming with them this year.

That’s it. That is how we run home visits at my school. I finish them all in one day and I would say it takes me about four hours to do them all. Now, hopefully I have you seeing the possibility!

There is one last thing that I do to prepare and that is simply planning the best route to be as efficient as possible.

Using our school attendance system I print out an address list for my class. Our lists sort by common addresses so all the students who live in one apartment complex are grouped together.  I visit the apartment complexes first because I park at one and walk around to each home.

One of my favorite parts about being out in the community and in the apartment complexes is that you get to a couple of houses and by then the word is out that you’re there. After a while you have these little groupies following you around because they're so excited.

After I do all of the home visits at the apartment complexes, then I move on to the houses. When I'm planning out the houses, I put all of the addresses into Google Maps. Usually, I only have about ten or so. You have to do this on your computer, you can't do it on your phone. Put in each address and it will show you the most efficient way to go in order to stop at each house. I follow along the route and before I know it I’ve visited the home of every family.

So, I just spent four hours of really quality time connecting with kids and families. I feel really good about having already seen them.  They see me out in the community and know that I care, that I am truly excited to be their teacher, and that we're going to have this amazing year together.

Are you thinking outside the box yet? Seeing the possibility? Feeling hopeful? Are you going to try home visits? Maybe, you already do them? Leave a comment. I know we would all love to hear from those of you who are going to try home visits this year and those of you who are still unsure of how you can find the time. Let’s work it out together because teaching is better together. We all need to hear one another and find ways to feel hopeful and inspired!

To help get you going I have the editable forms for you in my TpT store for FREE! Just head HERE or click the picture below to download. 

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