Home visitors work with families to create educational opportunities for the child that take advantage of families’ daily routines and resources. Home visitors do this work within the context of their relationships with families. They work with parents to plan the child’s learning and development, using the program’s curriculum as a foundation for experiences that build the child’s school readiness skills and support the parent-child relationship. (see Ongoing Assessment and Curriculum Planning in the Home Visitor’s Online Handbook).
To support home visitors, you work with program staff and parents to choose a research-based, early childhood, home-based curriculum that delivers developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate home visits and group socialization activities. All activities are designed to support parents in fostering children’s cognitive, social, and emotional growth for later success in school (45 CFR §1302.35). According to 45 CFR §1302.35(d), your chosen curriculum should also align with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) and meet the interests and needs of your program’s children and families.
You use observation, supervision, training, and other professional development to ensure that home visitors gain thorough knowledge of early learning and development. The home visitors know how to individualize the curriculum to support children, and they know how to work with parents in a culturally responsive manner as they facilitate learning experiences and positive interactions with their child. You also consider the needs of children with disabilities and special health care needs and ensure that home visitors are prepared to work with them and their families.
Consider these strategies for supporting home visitors’ knowledge and skills related to curriculum planning and experiences.
Focus on Child Development and School Readiness
- Point out examples of child development and learning in each domain of development during joint home visits or video of home visits.
- Work with home visitors to identify teachable moments during each home visit; to integrate health principles, discussions of well-baby checks, and other health-related topics; and to connect health to children’s growth, development, and school readiness.
- Use supervision sessions to ask about specific children’s development.
- Use resources such as your state’s early learning guidelines and Program Level School Readiness Goals for Early Childhood Programs: Examples from the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning (NCECDTL).
- Use your program’s screening and ongoing assessment tools to examine domains of development and how they influence each other.
- Discuss information about school readiness for infants and toddlers with home visitors. Encourage home visitors to review the information and resources in the Home Visitor’s Online Handbook (see School Readiness in the Home-Based Option).
- Encourage home visitors to participate in ongoing training and coaching. (Additional information can be found in the Initial and Ongoing Training and the Coaching sections, Professional Development for Home Visitors, in this handbook.)
- Identify professional development opportunities, such as conferences and workshops that home visitors can attend. (Additional information can be found in the Initial and Ongoing Training section, Professional Development for Home Visitors, in this handbook.)
- Identify virtual training opportunities, including interactive modules and webinars, that allow home visitors to participate in on their own schedule and at their own pace.
Emphasize the Importance of a Secure Parent-Child Relationship
- Share information about what secure parent-child relationships and how they benefit young children’s growth and development.
- Provide guidance on communication strategies that home visitors can use to support parent-child relationships, such as describing children’s actions and behaviors objectively; active listening; using open-ended questions or statements; inviting parents to share their perspective on the child’s behavior and development; and recognizing and acknowledging parent efforts, trial and error, discoveries, and strengths.
- Arrange training and staff development opportunities on parent-child relationships and attachment. (Additional information can be found in the Partnering with Families section of this handbook.)
Prioritize Child Learning and Development Experiences
- Brainstorm how to use materials found in the home and parent-child routines to promote child development. Encourage home visitors to review the information and resources in the Home Visitor’s Online Handbook (see Learning Opportunities).
- Explore which child development experiences may work for each family.
- Help home visitors connect individual child goals and program school readiness goals with the child-focused learning experiences they plan with parents. Use resources such as Individualizing Care for Infants and Toddlers that help home visitors make these connections.
Individualize the Curriculum
Support Children with Disabilities, Suspected Delays, or Special Health Care Needs
- Coordinate with other program staff to ensure that no fewer than 10 percent of their children are identified as eligible for intervention services by their state or local agency providing services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C 1400 et seq.). This is part of eligibility, recruitment, selection, enrollment, and attendance (ERSEA).
- Use your program’s tracking system to monitor the number of children with disabilities your program serves.
- Ensure that home visitors assigned to families with children with disabilities, suspected delays, or special health care needs receive appropriate information and training on the disability, suspected delay, or health condition and how best to work with the child and family. This support may come from early intervention providers, the child’s medical home or health specialist, and your program’s health or disabilities services coordinator and staff.
- Establish and maintain strong partnerships with local early intervention providers to ensure that children with disabilities and their families receive appropriate services.
- Work with home visitors on ways to adapt the curriculum as needed.
- Encourage home visitors to schedule occasional home visits with the IDEA provider so they can observe how the provider works with the parent and child and get added support for the family and child.
Brenda Jones Harden, PhD, Institute for Child Study, University of Maryland at College Park, talks about joint planning with parents, using everyday routines for curriculum, and videotaping home visits to review in supervision.
Supporting Child Development Services: Curriculum Planning and Curriculum Experiences
View the transcript
Open Doors-Parent-child Relationships, the Cornerstone to School Readiness in the Home-based Option-Clip 7A
Brenda Jones-Harden: And I think the Head Start Performance Standards really do support what you're saying, because the curriculum, the visit should be planned with the parent anyway. So, it should be something intentional that occurs with the parent, perhaps at the last visit, or even at the start of this visit.
But one of the other things that I often like to do in home settings is look at caregiving routines and how parents, you know, bathe their children, feed their children, clothe their children, groom their children's hair, all those kind of things -- diaper their children -- and really think about helping them promote development in those contexts. And that may not be a curriculum, but it's certainly what parents are gonna do 25 times a day.
So, if we can help them to think about using every one of those opportunities, as a chance to teach language or a chance to work on emotion regulation, or a chance to do expressive, affective interaction, then probably they're gonna do it over and over and over again. We're giving them tools that are part of their normal experience, and that's what I think you're describing -- entering into their space. Now, yes, that makes it hard for us, because, again, we have to be a little more creative, but, again, that's why I think observation of self is so important.
And one of the things that we've been doing a lot with home visitors is videotaping them, and then using that in supervision to say -- because it's hard sometimes to be able to do all of that at one time -- but in supervision to say, "Here's an opportunity. What do you think you could do?" So, we're holding them and we're helping them, again, in the same way that we want them to be holding and helping the parents that they're working with. It's the parallel process that we all talk about.
To view the full webcast, go to: Parent-Child Relationships: The Cornerstone to School Readiness in the Home-Based Option
Reflect on the following questions after watching the video:
- Describe how you can enhance your staff’s use of joint planning to engage families in home visits.
- How can you support your staff in curriculum planning, using everyday routines and experiences for infants and toddlers?
Curriculum Consumer Report
The Curriculum Consumer Report provides reviews and ratings of home-based curricula, based on criteria of effective, comprehensive curricula. Head Start and Early Head Start programs can use this interactive report to select high-quality, research-based home-based curricula that meet or exceed the HSPPS.
Healthy Children Are Ready to Learn
Children need to be healthy and safe to learn. Head Start programs help families access ongoing, continuous health care for their child and promote healthy, safe behaviors in centers and at home. This fact sheet explains how Head Start's management systems support comprehensive health services that benefit children's school readiness.
Including Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities: Session 7
This session focuses on specific strategies and practices for initial planning to include children with disabilities in early care and education in collaboration with early intervention. Included is a checklist for collaborative home-based services to infants, toddlers, or preschoolers with disabilities and their families. The checklist suggests activities that can ensure high-quality integrated services.
Look Again: Using Sensitive Skilled Observation in Your Program
Observation is a critical skill to support relationship building and learning about the youngest children and their families. It also is required in the HSPPS. In this audio conference, faculty share strategies for making observation practical and meaningful to Early Head Start and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start staff’s work.
Last Updated: February 19, 2021