Ahead of the Times:
Crèches Recognize the Value of Home Visits
In our own country, there is a mistaken belief that children living in poverty have a harder time learning than their more affluent peers. Parent Teacher Home Visits (PTHV) is a voluntary program in 20 states and 450 communities in which teachers make twice annual home visits. They seek to help parents better support their children’s learning and to better understand the needs and challenges facing their students. A recent study of the program bears out this approach.
Since the crèches’ beginning, teachers’ home visits to prospective and current students’ families have been a semi-annual event. The teachers share their students’ background, but the particulars of each home are different. Parents want to support their children’s learning. The crèche staff are respected: parents take a conversation with them about getting enough sleep, tending to hygiene, birth control, food shortages, or family dynamics seriously. Coupled with frequent parent seminars on a range of concerns to local families, and the fervent hope that an education will move children out of poverty, family engagement at the creches is nearly universal.
A surprise corollary to the study on the Parent Teacher Home Visits program was that, as well-meaning as participating teachers were, going into the program their expectations for lower-income students were below those for better-off students. Through home visits and partnering with parents, teachers realized that with support these children could perform as well as any others. The report states “previous deficit assumptions about families and students were unfounded.”
In American schools, at the creches in India, and in classrooms everywhere, the expectation for success by parents and teachers is basic to students becoming successful, regardless of family circumstances. A close study of the crèches’ history of high expectations and family engagement would serve American educators well. The creches have built on this understanding for decades; it is as fundamental to the creches’ success as is providing nutrition, health care, and early education.
Teachers Improve Learning When They Visit Students’ Homes, Jay Mathews. The Washington Post, 1.30.18.
Parent Teacher Home Visits, http://www.pthvp.org/what-we-do/pthv-model/. 1.30.18.