Doing some extra family outreach this spring? Here are 11 tips for a great home visit
Families are one of the most important partners in a student’s education, but without effective communication and engagement, meaningful family-school partnerships can suffer. Home visits can be a fantastic way to establish positive communications and relationships with families, but not all home visits are created equal.
Attendance-related home visits often occur after unsuccessful attempts by school teams to communicate with students and/or parents. However, we should never assume that a family’s lack of responsiveness is an indication that they don’t value their student’s education and success. The primary goal of every home visit should be to build positive relationships, so it’s important that educators approach these visits free of deficit thinking toward families.
Students with poor attendance usually have one or more barriers to attendance at home or in their community contributing to their absences from school. Be mindful of this when conducting home visits, and be sure to let your sincere desire to offer support and partnership shine through as you work to help families overcome barriers to school attendance.
Are you planning on some home visits this spring to help keep students on track for a strong finish to the school year? Here are a few tips to help you conduct safe, effective, and maybe even fun, home visits!
- Set Goals: Before the visit, coordinate with school team members to set intentions and create clarity on the desired outcome of the home visit.
- Give a heads up: Whenever possible, collaborate with the family to schedule the visit, informing them why you’re visiting and finding the right time.
- Data deep dive: Before the visit, leverage your SIS or EveryDay Pro to review student attendance metrics and any other available information that may be relevant to their circumstances. This will help inform strategic questions to ask and the most helpful supports to offer.
- Pack your bag: Prepare to take any documents and writing instruments needed for the visit.
- Don’t go it alone: As a safety measure, have a colleague accompany you on the visit, and always have your cell phone with you.
- Get your bearings: Upon arrival, take a moment to observe your surroundings and assess for safety or risk. If for whatever reason, you or your partner perceive the situation to be unsafe, please depart immediately.
- Trust your gut: If you don’t feel comfortable entering the home, it’s fine to engage with residents outside of the home (front porch, breezeway, front yard) or remain in the front room of the residence closest to an exit.
- Know your audience: Cultural considerations should be acknowledged before making any home visit— be mindful of holidays, language barriers, or other expectations.
- Offer support & discretion: Make it clear that you are a school representative ready to help, and make every effort to maintain privacy to the best of your ability. If the family isn’t home, don’t share the purpose of your visit with neighbors.
Consider Next Steps
- Continue the conversation: Home visits shouldn’t be a "one and done" initiative, but an ongoing practice throughout the year as needed, paired with supportive phone calls home and additional communication as needed.
- Take good notes: The insights gained after home visits can be crucial for many of your colleagues working to support students. After your visit or even a phone call, a platform like EveryDay Pro can provide space to record highlights from your visit, including barriers to attendance or general background. This streamlined and transparent way of sharing information can help your attendance teams work more efficiently and effectively.
Looking for more on improving attendance and family engagement? There are so many resources on our website, including the Family Insights Toolkit!