At both charter and district schools, home visits are helping teachers engage with parents, writes June Kronholz in Education Next.
Washington D.C.’s Flamboyan Foundation “trains — and pays — teachers to visit their students’ homes” in hopes of improving achievement, she writes.
“I had expectations of what the parents were supposed to do,” says Melissa Bryant, a math teacher and dean of students at D.C. Scholars Stanton Elementary, a novel partnership between the Washington, D.C., public schools and Scholar Academies, a charter operator. “I never heard what they wanted me to do.”
“No one ever asked me my goals,” adds Katrina Branch, who is raising six children in D.C., including the four children of her murdered sister.
Flamboyan is a partner of the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project, which has 432 participating schools in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
It started in the late 1990s in Sacramento when a church-based community action group that launched a pilot home-visit program, writes Kronholz.
Last year, Jessica Ghalambor, a 7th-grade teacher at Sacramento’s Fern Bacon Middle School, visited the home of a shy, silent girl with reading problems named Yoveli Rosas. “The very next day,” the teacher saw an “incredible” change, she recalled. “I could tell she knew I cared.”
Ghalambor visited Yoveli again this year, along with her 8th-grade teacher and a school counselor, who acted as translator with the girl’s Spanish-speaking mother.
Josefina Rosas, Yoveli’s mother, offered to bring tamales to the school’s Heritage Festival, and promised that her husband, a landscaper, would attend a meeting about the upcoming class trip to D.C.
Finally, Ghalambor asked about Rosas’s hopes and dreams for Yoveli. To go further in school than she and her husband had so Yoveli will “have more chances,” Rosas quickly answered. Yoveli, whose reading has improved but still lags, had a more immediate goal: to read a 300-page book. “You remember last year when you came, the bookshelf was half full?” she reminded Ghalambor gaily. “This year it’s overflowing.”
“There’s not much research” on home visits’ affect on learning, writes Kronholz. However, a study for the Flamboyan Foundation found better attendance, which is linked to better reading scores, for children who received home visits in 2012-13.