Home visits promote positive ideas about schools

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Army spouse Lynnette Cepeda Cruz fills out a form to schedule a home visit with her child’s teacher at the Cmdr. William C. McCool Elementary and Middle School kindergarten orientation on U.S. Naval Base Guam Aug. 24.
Army spouse Lynnette Cepeda Cruz fills out a form to schedule a home visit with her child’s teacher at the Cmdr. William C. McCool Elementary and Middle School kindergarten orientation on U.S. Naval Base Guam Aug. 24.

Home visits promote positive ideas about schools

by: By Shaina Marie Santos | .
Joint Region Edge Staff | .
published: September 09, 2012

At the beginning of each school year, parents have the chance to introduce their new students to the school experience with pre-kindergarten and kindergarten home visits.

According to Andersen Elementary School (AES) Principal Willette Horne-Barnes, home visits provide pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers an opportunity to meet their students in their most familiar surroundings.

“Home visits really provide the teachers insight about the students, as they ask the parents different questions about the children’s academic, social and physical development,” she said. “They also ask the students questions about themselves and their family members. The teachers express that they really enjoy meeting the children in their natural surroundings and socializing with them and their parents in a comfortable setting.”

Cmdr. William C. McCool Elementary School (MEMS) Principal Don Christensen agreed with Horne-Barnes and added that the visits help ease the transition into school.

“(They) are an important step in establishing an important partnership between the school and families for the benefit of their child’s beginning educational experience,” he said. “A teacher’s knowledge of the child and positive connections allows for a smoother transition during the initial days of school when family separation may be an issue. It is a stepping stone to assist the student in feeling comfortable about going to school.”
Horne-Barnes said during a home visit, students show off their rooms and talk with their teachers about different topics of interest. Sometimes, depending on the time of the visit, teachers will eat with the students and their families.

“Home visits add another dimension to understanding the student, affording teachers the opportunity to observe their strengths and areas of need in their natural surroundings,” she said. “Students seem to really enjoy having their teachers in their homes, especially in their rooms.”

She added that parents appreciate that not only students, but the parents themselves can meet and socialize with teachers before the first day of school.

“The parents are also afforded the opportunity to meet their children’s teachers before the first official day, providing them a sense of calm,” she said.

Christensen said during the visit, teachers give out packets of information for parents about themselves, including classroom rules and procedures.

“For parents, the home visit is a wonderful way to start a relationship with the school and the teacher,” he said. “The personal contact initiated at the home visit makes it easier for the parents to feel comfortable providing information, asking questions or sharing concerns about their child with the teacher throughout the year.”

According to Horne-Barnes, all AES pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers conduct home visits with students assigned to their individual classrooms. The visits, though not mandatory, are encouraged.
“Home visits are never intended to be threatening or intimidating in nature,” she said. “They are conducted with the intent that the students’ and parents’ transition to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten will be easier and less stressful.”

During the MEMS kindergarten and pre-kindergarten orientations, parents were given the opportunity to sign up for home visits.

“The teachers hope to meet all our families soon and are looking forward to the new school year,” he said.
Navy spouse and MEMS parent Jaime Fahy has welcomed home visits for her children and said they make a noticeable difference in a child’s first experience with school.

“It helps the incoming student feel more confident and more comfortable after meeting their teacher from the comfort of their home,” she said. “I’m very, very impressed with the home visits.”

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