Building Trust and Community with Parent-Teacher Home Visits

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September 12, 2023

Parent Teacher Home Visit ProgramAs teachers, students and parents all over Michigan get back into the swing of things, the Parent Teacher Home Visit Program (PTHVP) kicks off National Parent Teacher Home Visit Week on Sept. 18, 2023. The goals of the PTHVP are to celebrate parents and educators who prioritize building relationships of trust, generate awareness and support for the PTHVP, and, of course, conduct as many home visits as possible during the week of Sept. 18-23.

What Is the Parent Teacher Home Visit Program?

PTHVP is a relational model that was piloted over 25 years ago. It sends pairs of trained school staff members into the community to conduct voluntary and prearranged home visits to counter deeply held mistrust and disrupt the cycle of blame between home and schools. More than 30,000 home visits were conducted in the 2021-22 school year. The program is hoping to reach record numbers this year, and I am excited to be part of the movement.

Build Mutual Trust and Rapport

As a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools Community District, this program has been extremely effective in bridging the gap between the families I serve and me. While visiting the homes, I can build trust and rapport, and establish personal connections with parents and caregivers in a more relaxed and familiar setting. This face-to-face interaction on their turf helps build trust, promote open communication and strengthen the parent-teacher relationship.

Bridge Cultural and Socioeconomic Gaps

Also, the PTHVP can bridge cultural and socioeconomic gaps between families and schools. Conducting home visits provides me with insight into the student’s home life and cultural practices, allowing for a more inclusive and culturally responsive approach to education. I learn just as much as the parent throughout this experience, and the parent is more eager to share their skill sets with the school staff.

“I have five boys at Mann Elementary from the ages of kindergarten to fifth grade.  I appreciate all the extra things they do here, like extra tutoring and home visits. I have participated in the program for several years. The teachers even made porch visits during COVID-19, which was a great way for my children to connect with their teachers while learning was still virtual,” said Fatimeh Wazne of her experience as a veteran PTHVP parent. She’s pictured above with her sons: Jamir, Jase, Jaleel, Jameel and Jaseem.   

Engaging Families in the Educational Process

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the PTHVP is the way it encourages family involvement in their child’s education. Through home visits, the parents I serve gain a deeper understanding of the curriculum, my teaching methods and school expectations. It makes them feel valued and empowered as partners in their child’s learning journey. This increased engagement then translates into higher levels of parental support and involvement in school activities, leading to improved student attendance, behavior and academic performance.

Anyone interested in promoting meaningful relationships, cultural responsiveness and collaboration between parents and teachers this school year should consider implementing home visits into their practice.  Although effectiveness may vary depending on the specific demographics, the practice has shown significant potential in improving student outcomes and creating a supportive educational environment.

Candice Jackson is a third-grade teacher and instructional coach at Mann Learning Community in Detroit Public Schools Community District. She's been in the Detroit district since 2002 and at Mann since 2017.