The teacher's home visit: everything you need to know
Before your child starts primary school, they might get a home visit from their new teacher. But what happens at these meetings? What questions will you be asked? And how should you prepare?
If your child is soon due to start Reception or P1 at a state primary school, you may find you get a letter about arranging a home visit from their teacher.
It's standard practice for state schools to have some kind of 'meet the teacher' session before your child starts school and, until fairly recently, this took place at the school itself. But many schools have now adopted a video-meet or home-visit policy instead – because it's a more useful way to help your child's teacher get to know your child and you. And it's also a good opportunity to exchange information one-to-one, away from all the hustle and bustle of the school playground.
When do the teacher home visits take place?
Most schools try to schedule the visits for the summer before your child is due to start school. But sometimes, they'll happen in September, shortly before or after the school term starts.
If your child's school has a home-visit policy, you will be sent a letter about it. The letter will probably suggest a date and time for the visit and ask you to fill in and return a reply slip, either confirming the date and time or asking to reschedule. If you really don't want the teacher coming to your home or, for whatever reason, it's just not possible or practical, you should be able to request a video meeting or a meeting at the school instead.
What's the point of teacher home visits?
The home visit is really all about getting to know your child a little, telling you a bit more about the school set-up – and giving you an opportunity to speak confidentially about your child’s needs and development.
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"The core purpose of these visits is to start to build a parent-teacher relationship founded on two-way trust and respect," says Dr Sue Allingham, an Early Years Foundation Stage researcher.
The teacher home visit is an opportunity to meet your child's teacher in an informal way, and for you to feel relaxed in each other’s company
"Building up trust and respect in this way means you can feel happy in the future about sharing things in confidence, if you wish."
It's obviously also an opportunity for your child to meet their teacher and for the teacher to start to establish a relationship with them. Meeting their teacher in a low-key way in their own home means your child will have a friendly face to recognise – and feel reassured by – when they start school.
What can I expect at a teacher home visit?
Don't worry: it's all pretty informal.
Your child's teacher will almost certainly come along with a colleague. "We go in 2s," says Charlie Fletcher, a teaching assistant in a Cambridgeshire primary school and, as a mum herself, a member of our MadeForMums Top Testers Club. "One of us does most of the talking with the parent, and the other interacts with the child.
We introduce ourselves to the child, have a friendly chat and have a little play. It's all a bit less daunting for the child when this is done in their own environment
"Children are often keen to show us their toys," adds Charlie, "which can then be a great talking point for us when the child starts school – and we can use that to help to distract them a little if they ever become upset."
Your child's teacher will probably bring along some leaflets and handouts/information packs about the school and its policies. They will also probably need to fill out a form with basic information about your child, such as the language they speak at home, their eating habits, and which toys and books they like.
The teacher may also ask you questions that will help the school prepare for your child's arrival, such as, "Does your child need any support using the toilet, eating independently or putting on and taking off clothes?" or "Does your child have any allergies or medical conditions that we need to be aware of?"
Do you need to prepare for the teacher home visit?
The only prep that Charlie recommends is making sure your child knows what's going to be happening. "Talk in a positive way to your child about their teacher coming," she says, "and maybe get them to choose a favourite game or toy to show them, just so they have something to share.
And one thing you don't need to do is make make sure the house is neat and tidy!
"We honestly aren’t there to look at how tidy the house is," says Charlie. "We are happy to see played-with toys and we really don’t care if you have piles of ironing."
In fact, many schools actively advise teachers not to note anything about the parent's house. "I know many parents worry beforehand, thinking we will judge – and, as I'm a parent before I'm a teacher, I’ve felt exactly the same. But we aren’t really looking for or at anything. We're just there to meet you and your child."
About our expert Dr Sue Allingham
Dr Sue Allingham BA (Hons) MA EdD worked as an Early Years Co-ordinator before gaining an MA and then a Doctorate in Early Years Education from Sheffield University. She is now Consultant Editor of Early Years Educator (EYE) magazine and works as a consultant trainer for many Early Years provisions and professionals.
Pic: Getty Images
Tara is mum to 1 daughter, Bodhi Rae, and has worked as Content Editor and Social Media Producer at MadeForMums since 2015
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