Ark Start’s Headteacher Molly Devlin, talks about home visits and why they’re so important

Home visits are one of the most important elements of the Ark Start calendar. Most importantly, they are an opportunity for children to build a relationship with the new adults in their life in an environment in which they feel safe and secure. When all their trusted adults are together, it gives children an opportunity to build trust; they can more easily understand that we are all working together for them.

Home visits are also an important opportunity for us as adults to get to know the children that will be under our care. It provides us with the opportunity to see children in their own environment, and so often that enables us to see them speak and play in ways they would feel less confident to do sowhen they first start in nursery. That makes it easier for us to know where they are on their learning journey and help us plan for them better when they join us at nursery.

Of course, it’s a big financial investment to visit every child at home. Not only do we have to make the time available before a child starts with us, we also need to train our staff to undertake successful home visits. That means making sure staff can go into people’s homes in a sensitive and respectful way, build relationships quickly and are able to have meaningful conversations with families. But this investment is more than worth it: children who have been visited at home settle into nursery more easily and build a strong relationship with their play partner more quickly. Having visited families at home, also enables us to better recognise unusual behaviour in children. That’s also the reason why we sometimes suggest home visits throughout the year, and always make time for this if we feel it is the best way of helping a child.