Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The benefits of home visits

It is something not all childcare providers do, but really should to get a sense of a child's home life

Home visits - a topic which means a great deal to me as I studied this area for my Personal Based Assignment when studying at University. It was something I was a part of whilst in my last workplace and found them really interesting and exciting to carry out. A home visit does exactly what it says on the tin.........you visit the child who is going to start at your setting in their home.

It is a great way to understand a lot more about your child's family background and to see them relaxed int heir own environment. It also allows them to get used to you by seeing you in their house. This is why it is best if possible that the child's Key person is the person who visits. It is also best these visits are done in pairs, for safety sake as well as in case you get lost!! I have been on a home visit alone where I was very uncomfortable with the whole scenario (the child was playing with garden shears!!!)

A good thing to create when doing home visits is an activity box. This would contain a few toys (you can find out what the child likes pre visit and add these types of toys in the box), any uniform the children could wear, book bags, stories and photographs of the setting. This allows the children to get a sense of where they will be going and what sort of things they will find. I started a box whilst doing my university course and I hope it has proved helpful!!

Of course, there are many barriers which can hinder practitioners from carrying out home visits. The most prominent being lack of staff. If you are sending 2 staff out on a visit, you need to make sure the ratios are still met back in the setting, which for many nurseries is a big ask. The staff have to be comfortable with speaking to parents and children in unfamiliar surroundings and need to make sure they get the most out of their time in the child's home. The average home visit should last just 20 mins, which is the perfect amount of time for a child to get used to you, but not always to make sure you get the information you need.

I believe home visits are a fantastic way for parents to get to know the staff too and helps to strengthen the relationship before their child even starts at the nursery. Of course, staff need to make sure they remain professional and try not to judge families by the look of their home. Training would be a good idea to brief practitioners before they enter a home.

What do you think? Do home visits work for you?

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