The secrets of a successful home visit

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By Sue Cowleyeducational author and trainer

Visiting a child in their own home before they start at your setting can help to achieve a smooth and stress-free transition for everyone, as Sue Cowley explains

The secrets of a successful home visit

The transition from home to an early years setting is often challenging for babies and young children. They move from the safety and security of the known carer and familiar environment, to a strange place, full of new adults and unfamiliar experiences. Home visits can help to make their forthcoming new experience easier to cope with.

Why are home visits important for children and their parents ?

For the child, a meeting with practitioners at home means it is far less scary when they start at the setting. You can talk together about your shared experience of their home. Practitioners report that many children remember a home visit for a long time, as a key event.

Home visits are also beneficial for the child’s parents to learn more about your setting. For those parents who lack confidence in English, you can offer guidance about the setting, and help them to fill out any forms. Some parents may want to talk confidentially about concerns or issues within the family. This is easier in the home than in the more formal environment of the setting.

How can home visits help the practitioner?

Of course, homes visits are beneficial for practitioners as well. You get to meet the children in a relaxed setting, where they literally feel ‘at home’. You are also likely to get more of an insight into children’s development and skills: a child who appears shy and reserved at nursery might be outgoing in the home. As an added bonus, you should find home visits an enjoyable part of your role.

Introducing home visits

When you are planning to introduce home visits, consider the following practicalities:

  • Who is going to carry out the visits?
  • When in the year will they take place?
  • How long should each visit last?
  • How are you going to approach parents?
  • What do you need to take with you?

Who?

Two staff should visit together – often one teacher or lead practitioner, and one nursery nurse or assistant. This is important for safety reasons, and it also allows one of you to talk with the carers, while the other focuses on the child.

When?

The best time for visits is usually in September, at the start of the academic year (although this depends on how your intake works). Some settings close for a week at the start of term in order for visits to take place.

How long?

Each home visit could last approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Remember to leave enough time in between each appointment for travelling between the homes. You might make four or five visits in a morning, with one appointment per half hour, to include ten minutes travel time.

Approaching parents

Home visits should be optional. Download a sample letter to send to parents. Your letter should outline the benefits of home visits for the children, parents and the setting. Make a point of inviting dads and other family members along, as well as mums.

What to take?

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