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Nov 01 2016

Ideas for Promoting School Readiness During Home Visits

By: Sarah Frith Coleman, Coordinated Intake Manager, Arkansas Home Visiting Network

“The best chance to ensure a child gets ahead is to make sure they never get behind in the first place.” – Julio Castro

As we celebrate American Education Week from November 13-18, home visitors should consider how they are implementing the concept of school readiness into their home visits. The National Association for the Education of Young Children stresses that in defining school readiness, programs must remember:

  • To recognize that young children learn in unique ways and at different paces,
  • To include all areas of children’s development and learning when defining readiness, and
  • That “readiness” is not limited to just children, but also includes “ready families, ready communities, ready early care and education, and ready schools.”

Home visiting is an effective way to connect with families in helping them prepare children for kindergarten.


Many activities related to school readiness are integral parts of many home visiting models’ curriculums. Earlier this year, the Office of Head Start addressed school readiness and home visiting in a blog post on new approaches to school readiness. The authors emphasize key principles in understanding how home visiting helps families foster a home environment rich with potential learning opportunities, including:

  1. Listening to what a child is communicating in order to understand that particular child’s needs and interests.
  2. Empowering parents during home visits, including planning ahead.
  3. Finding joy in the daily growth of children, and
  4. Understanding the responsibility of both families and home visitors in preparing children for their lifelong journeys.

Arkansas home visiting programs celebrate the concept of parents and guardians as children’s first teachers and home visitors can encourage learning and school readiness through many daily activities. Home visitors should review the following list of tips and resources compiled from Bright Horizons and share with your families. When we all help children learn and get ready for school, we build stronger families and brighter futures!

  • Encourage home visiting families to provide opportunities for play. Play is so much more than just having fun!
  • Ask families to allow children view themselves as problem solvers.
  • Talk with families about reading together with their children.
  • Work with families to encourage curiosity in their children.
  • Help families identify daily opportunities to count, sort, graph, and pattern.
  • Encourage families to spend quiet time with children doing fun activities like board games and puzzles.
  • Singing “silly songs” can often help children learn basic vocabulary, letter sounds, sentence structure and rhythm.
  • Talk with families about the importance of teaching children patience in a constructive, not punishing, way. Teaching patience early will provide long-term benefits in the classroom.
  • Encourage families to adjust both their own and their children’s expectations. This will help avoid meltdowns while learning flexibility.

Another great resource is this short video from Parents magazine that provides simple activities that parents can do at home to prepare their children for school.


Home visitors are valuable resources for families as they help their children prepare for school. By building simple school readiness activities into home visits, home visitors are helping families achieve long-term gains!


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