As a long time home visitor I have often asked this question of myself and of the families I’ve worked with. In my early days, I was often concerned about getting “a good enough” relationship with a family to be invited back the next week. If they didn’t have much use for me and what we could share, there would be “no shows” and “no answers” upon future visits. So building that relationship became the agenda. In doing so, I had to let go of my own agenda and wrap my goals around the family’s needs and priorities.
Next, there was a phase in which it seemed that paperwork and procedures took up much of our visit time…
Now, in these days of “reframing” our best practices and “natural environment” emphasis, embedding our activities into family routines is once again in vogue.
On a recent home visit I had with a grandmother and her 3 young grandchildren (for whom she now has custody) we hit a home-run! I arrived with an agenda of offering grandmother a choice of new cardboard books for her grandchildren to keep through the Reading is Fundamental Program. Once grandmother picked out the books for her 9 and 18 month old grandchildren, her 8 year old grandchild at my suggestion offered to read the book to her younger siblings. The 18 month old was sitting on grandmothers lap and I was holding the 9 month old also on the same couch This pleased grandmother greatly as she is much into literacy. The 8 yr. old then proceeded to read 3 more books to the delight of the younger ones and grandmother. This was the best joint attention I have received from this grandmother in 5 months.
Another reason the visit was a success was that it included the sibling; this was valued by grandmother as well and it led to having the 8 yr. old sister feel important.
The journal, Infants and Young Children (October-December 2009) highlighted the importance parents place on including other family members in the embedded activities in their article “The Meaning of Natural Environments for Parents and Professionals.”
What does a good home visit look like to you?
-Chris Lynch-Muecke, IDA, San Diego Chapter
Campbell, Philippa H., Sawyer, Brook, & Muhlenhaupt, BS. (2009) The meaning of natural environments for parents and professionals. Infants & Young Children 22(4), 264-277.