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Home Visits Declared Winning Strategy for Reducing Student Absences

Home Visits Declared Winning Strategy for Reducing Student Absences

Home visits have been credited with improving student behavior, increasing student test scores, creating less teacher stress and giving parents more confidence in teachers’ ability to help their children succeed.

According to NPR, home visits might also be an ideal strategy for reducing student absences and ensuring kids stay in school.

Reducing student absences and what is known as “chronic absenteeism” is an increasingly national imperative because when students aren’t in school--they simply aren’t learning.

”New 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection data find that chronic absenteeism puts as many as six million students each year at risk of falling behind or dropping out of school,” said the Department of Education earlier in the year.

"An estimated five to seven and a half million students miss 18 or more days of school each year, or nearly an entire month or more of school, which puts them at significant risk of falling behind academically and failing to graduate from high school. Because they miss so much school, millions of young people miss out on opportunities in post-secondary education and good careers,” it said.

NPR suggests that improving parent-teacher communication early on when students are in pre-K can be the answer to starting good habits while establishing parental trust in the school system.

"Researchers and many top preschool programs are focusing on one solution as a way of getting pre-K attendance up: Home visits at the beginning of the year, before kids start missing and before parents have a chance to feel skeptical about the school,” NPR said.

As schools start focusing on getting attendance rates up, they have shifted their focus to "attendance in the elementary years, and pre-K offers a chance to get kids on the right foot from their very earliest encounters with school.”

For schools interested in offering home visits as an option to its parents, taking a look at the Parent Teacher Home Visit (PTHV) model is a great place to get started.

The model sets up five core practices that help to define exactly what a “home visit” is, ensuring that visits do not become “drop-ins” but are rather scheduled, productive events.

The five practices are as follows:

  1. Visits are always voluntary for educators and families, and arranged in advance.
  2. Teachers are trained, and compensated for visits outside their school day.
  3. Focus of the first visit is relationship-building; we discuss hopes and dreams.
  4. No targeting – visit all or a cross-section of students so there is no stigma.
  5. Educators conduct visits in pairs, and after the visit, reflect with their partner.

PTHV also offers parents, educators and school leaders a tool kit that covers everything they need to get started and keep going.

Read more about what PTHV has to offer here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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