Effective Practice Guides

Relationships with Adults: Do


Try the following practices with infants and toddlers and preschool-aged children. Find out how home visitors can put these practices to work with families.

Infants and Toddlers

  • Check in with children visually and verbally when you’re occupied with something else. Use a smile or a comment such as, “I see you over there. Are you getting hungry?,” as a reminder that you’re connected.
  • Talk to children as you’re going about daily tasks like diapering or providing snacks. Pause to allow them a turn in the conversation, which will progress from gesturing and cooing to sounds, words, phrases, and complete sentences as children get older.
  • Provide a routine or cue so children know what to expect. Describe what’s happening now and what will happen next.


  • Remember the details concerning the lives of individual children. For example, make a connection to their families by asking children to talk about the people in their drawings or photos. As time permits, use index cards or sentence strips to create captions.
  • Show children you value their presence by offering a warm, personal greeting when they enter the setting and a “See you tomorrow” or “See you soon” as they leave. When a child is absent, let her know you missed her.
  • See and be seen. Circulate so you can spot children who might need support. Make sure children can see you, too.

Home Visitors

Home visitors can support parents in identifying, adapting, and trying the practices listed above while on home visits and during group socializations. Here are more ideas.1

  • Notice and admire parents’ acts of nurturance. For example:
    • “Tanya really needed you to pick her up and hold her close. You knew just how to help her stop crying. She’s looking at you so lovingly now.”
    • “I noticed that you gave Philipé a gentle hug before he went to join his friends in the group socialization activity. And every time he looked back at you, you gave him a smile and wave. You two are really connecting with each other!”
  • Encourage parents to show excitement and interest in what their child is doing and saying. For example:
    • “Chrissy is really enjoying you calling to her from other end of the tunnel. I can see how much fun she has when you play with her.”
    • “When you asked Marco to tell you about the rocks he collected on our walk today, I could see his eyes light up. I think he really likes sharing what he knows with you.”

¹Early Head Start National Resource Center (EHS NRC), OpenDoors Home Visitor’s Handbook (Washington, DC: HHS, ACF, OHS, EHS NRC, 2014), Chapter 10.5, Social and Emotional Development, How To.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 5, 2018