© HELEN H. RICHARDSON/GETTY IMAGES
I can’t think of an easier way to begin
building mutual respect than to give the
parents a home court advantage.
supportive, yet extremely busy parent—
wanted a fresh start for her children. She
expressed reluctance the first few times I
tried to set up a home visit. But as I built
a relationship with Gabby, she began to
pester her mom into letting me come.
Gabby heard about my visits with other
classmates and saw the books and school
supplies I’d brought them. Finally,
Ms. Ross allowed Davon’s teacher and
me to come one day after school.
Tips for Home Visits
n Never go alone. Invite the
teacher of your student’s siblings,
an administrator, or staff member
to accompany you. If a translator
will be needed, invite someone
who speaks the parent’s language.
n Ask your principal for training
(and perhaps compensation).
Our district gets training for visits
through the Parent Teacher Home
Visit Project ( www.pthvp.org).
n Bring a gift. A baggie of school
supplies, a book, or a seasonal gift
not only shows your appreciation,
but also is a great, positive ice
n Take copious notes right after
each visit. After a few visits, conversations with different families
might blur. I keep a parent communications binder in which I write
down notes from every home visit
and other parent communications
throughout the year. Before conferences, I go through my notes to
build on those conversations.
n Don’t worry about timing. It’s
ideal to get many home visits in at
the beginning of the year, but fall
is often busy. Send out a general
request to visit families in their
homes, listing times that work for
your schedule. Then make phone
calls to arrange visits early on
with those parents with whom
you anticipate needing a strong
relationship. I’ve even done a
home visit in May, taking a teacher
from the next grade level along.
n Don’t worry about location. If
parents are—like my mother—too
embarrassed to have you in their
living room, visit on the front
porch, the lawn, even at a local
restaurant or park. The point is
to visit parents in a place where
they’re comfortable—and get
yourself off campus.