One Sunflower

the power of home visits

on September 4, 2010

I’ve begun my home visits with my new students, so far I’ve met six of my sixteen families.  I will be meeting the other ten over the course of two days next week.  Except for the excruciatingly slow pace of filling out the necessary paperwork to register their children for school, I love these visits.  I love seeing the children in their home environment; I love seeing the love and pride the parents have for their children; I love connecting with these little beings in such a personal way.

My visits to a child’s home always tell me things about a child’s life that I could never learn by reading their registration papers or scoring their Ages and Stages Questionnaires.  I found out about a mother’s pride in the potatoes she’s producing in her garden and how one dad is eager to go to English classes while he is laid off from his construction job.

While the parents are working through the registration forms, I give the children crayons and paper and watch as they work, sometimes coaching them through a drawing of their family members or a portrait if it seems like they are capable.   This time together provides a way for me to talk to a child about their family and their personal interests.  I find out a bit about how the child communicates their ideas and how confident they are in this social situation.

A visit with a child who is on an IEP showed me that he struggles with his grip and organization of his figures.  Even though I haven’t been able to read the IEP yet, this brief glimpse gave me some ideas of the work we’ll be doing together.

I have been really curious about what my returning students retained from our writing and journal work of last year.  I only have 3 returning students this year but I visited 2 of them last week.  I am so excited by the work they produced on this first home visit!  One little girl started hesitantly on the far right of her paper.  I was sitting on her left and this was the farthest from me that she could get.  She drew a circle for a head and I had to make suggestions one-by-one for the rest; “how about the body?,” “what about legs and arms?,” “remember how we drew balls for the feet?”  She completed that figure and named it for her dad and then began another.   This time I just looked at her when she looked for me for the coaching.  She didn’t hesitate this time but went on to add all the parts by herself and to complete a figure for each member of her family.

My other returning student was not shy or hesitant.  She produced big, beautiful figures and went on to tell two full-blown stories, one about her cousin walking dogs and the other about her dad losing his keys and having to get more keys.  I love it!!  I could evaluate her fine motor control, her memory about characters, setting, action; this child is ready to continue our journal work this year!

Sometimes my visits to a child’s home allow me to witness details that can’t be put into words – written, spoken, or illustrated.    This year I listened in sorrow as a grandma told me quietly of an accident that took the life of her 2-year-old grandchild a month ago and how her son, the child’s father, has been living with her ever since because he can’t bear to return home.  This woman is already the primary caregiver for four other grandchildren.  A quick brush of a hand across her tears tells me she is having to bear her own grief stoically and silently but with a ready lap.

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One response to “the power of home visits

  1. Lynnelle says:

    My heart goes out to that grandmother. So often women was move through life as the strong rock and yet our hearts are breaking.

    Sounds like you have an exciting year ahead of you!! Have a great one!!!

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