Home Visitor's Online Handbook

Joint Planning

Mother and home visitor doing paperworkOne of the major purposes of the home-based option is to help parents explore and experience where their child is developmentally, what interests the child, how the child learns in each domain, and how to support that learning through everyday routines and experiences. You can help parents understand early learning and development and what they can do to keep their child healthy and safe from injury. This affirms their role in promoting school readiness and positive health outcomes.

A second major purpose is to support the family in working toward their own goals. Joint planning is one of the keys to successful home visiting with families. An important vehicle for joint planning is developing positive, goal-oriented relationships between you and the family. By discussing what the child is doing currently and what he is about to do developmentally, you can address the child's and family's interests and future goals. Plan the visits together. Using the Family Partnership Agreement process, the home visitor can build on the family's goals for themselves and their child by asking simple, probing questions that will help them think about what they want for their child week by week. When the parents are engaged in the planning process and gathering of the materials, they are more likely to take a leadership role in interacting with their child.

How To 

You can support joint planning by:

  • Carefully explaining from the beginning that the main reason of the home visit is to work with the family to explore the many ways parents can support their child's learning and development
    • This can be done orally, in pamphlets, or as a contract
    • You will probably need to regularly reinforce this joint effort through multiple strategies
    • Home visits are also an opportunity for families to work on goals jointly created within the Family Partnership Agreement
  • Reviewing together what happened during and what has happened since the last visit
  • Repeating experiences from the last visit, as appropriate
  • Making sure parents have the opportunity to discuss how the experience might work and why you suggest it by reviewing the joint plan made for this visit
  • Using materials from the home, supporting parents through experiences or interactions planned for this visit;
  • Observing and reflecting with parents during the activity
  • Requesting input during any and all aspects of the home visit (e.g., "I wonder, does this seems like a good choice?" "Does this make sense to you?" "I feel like I'm not being clear.")
  • Reviewing and reflecting on the visit with the parents
  • Asking what parents hope to do before the next visit
  • Asking what parents might find useful for the next visit and offering ideas, especially if you need to bring in other aspects of comprehensive services
  • Exploring the family's health beliefs, values, and needs as appropriate
  • Discussing and making a plan for the next visit
  • Leaving a copy of the home visit plan with the parents

Experience It 

Watch a home visitor and mother discussing her child's developing skills. Together, they plan out what they might do on the next home visit to support Mason's skills using home materials.


What do you observe?

Answers may include:

  • Home visitor briefly reviews what they did this week and asks the mother what she would like to do next week.
  • Home visitor picks up a block and bangs it lightly in Mason's hand, talking to mother through the baby. Mother watches, smiles, and continues to say she would like to work on pulling up and lower body strength next week.
  • Home visitor talks about finding things around the house that Mason can pull up on, pointing to a piece of furniture in the room that would be safe.
  • Mother tells Mason to say "bye-bye," and he waves his fingers. She smiles and says that is the first time he has done that.

How can you apply what you observe from this brief interaction about joint planning to your home visits?

Answers may include:

  • Joint planning doesn't have to be a long, involved process. It can simply be a few questions about what the child is doing or on what the parent would like to work. Then, the two of you can brainstorm what you might find in the home to support this development.
  • Parents should be involved in the planning of home visits so they will have an investment in carrying out the home visit.
  • If the parent is involved in gathering materials for the home visit, they will be more likely to take interest in engaging the child with the materials.
  • Home visitor should be prepared with some questions that might engage the parent in jointly planning the next home visit.