Your Home Visit: What’s the Point?
I have mentioned before, and I will mention it again; this foster (Read about it here.)care experience has changed the way I work with families in early intervention. One that comes to mind today is…
I get to the point.
Me as a Parent
Me as a parent: Now that I have experienced home visitors on a regular basis, I understand in a much more real way– a parent’s time is precious. We had a therapist come work with our child once a week. Social workers came at least once a month. Other team members popped in from time to time too. Sometimes I felt like there was no point. Sometimes I had a headache, and I was tired, and I just wanted to watch “The Little Mermaid” with the kids for the 1000th time. But no, the baby had a therapy session. We had to tidy up. I had to power through and get this over with. On days like that, I really resented giving my time to a therapist or a social worker if it seemed like there was no point. Please don’t misunderstand. The team of professionals I worked with were great! I am certain they had a point. I just didn’t know what it was.
Me as a Special Instructor
Me as a special instructor: These parents are dealing with a child with a disability! It is chaos! In that chaos, they may or may not have been willing to enroll in this program, but they did. They have agreed to allow me, a special instructor, (a role they probably have never heard of before) to come to their home for one hour each week. This is an incredible responsibility.
If I am not making my role clear, it will appear that there is no point in me being there. If it appears there is no point in me being there, they will be less likely to keep their appointments. Suddenly there will be schedule conflicts with hair appointments, errands to run, or family coming over. If they don’t keep their appointments, nobody is getting served. Nobody is benefiting.
Home Visit Before…
I used to show up and “follow the child’s lead” in play and model learning strategies as I went along and coached mom during and after as needed. I was in my own head making notes and observations which I would write down later and use to plan other play sessions. In my own head I was strategizing and thinking and maybe not being as clear to the parent as I could have been. I think this was good, but I also think I could have been better.
Home Visit After…
Now I go with a specific purpose in mind for each session. I share that purpose when I arrive to make sure we are working toward a common goal. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. The child’s attitude or motivation may go in a completely different direction. In that case, I’ll communicate what I’m thinking instead of keeping it to myself, “oh it appears baby has a different plan than me, so I guess we can work on this instead for today.” At the end of the session, I recap and I think in my head “what was the point?” Then, I make sure to communicate something like, “Thank you for letting me come today. I’m glad we were able to have so much fun working on that pincer grasp. He’ll be feeding himself cheerios in no time! Maybe next week we can try crawling again.”
See what I did there?