I am sure by now you know that I am returning to first grade, where I began my teaching journey so many years ago (wow–I was just a kid then…), and am super excited about it. I am excited to return to many things that are the same, but am also excited about some “firsts” that will happen in this move back to first. There are several, but first up (hee, hee) it’s home visits.
When Riley was in kindergarten (which is somehow 2 YEARS ago now–how did this happen??), I was excited when we got an email from his teacher about coming for a home visit. I hadn’t heard of our teachers doing them before, and in fact I think that was the first year they started. I remember Ms. Dale showing up at our door (which was awesome in itself because we don’t actually live in the district and she had to drive extra far to see us) with a big smile and a game of Candyland.
Now, for me as a parent, the experience was probably different than most when initially meeting their child’s first teacher; I have worked with Ms. Dale for 14 years and so have a relationship and already knew she’d be an amazing match to my kiddo. We were already comfortable with each other. But for my kiddo, this visit was priceless. HIS teacher was coming to HIS house to meet HIM!! While he was at first really apprehensive (and actually ran away from the door to hide when she knocked!), once I left them alone and they started playing the game, he quickly warmed up to her and they had a great time. The visit was short and sweet, but I know for sure that it set a very positive tone for the rest of their year together. There was much less “worried” talk about school after this and more excited banter about when he’d get to see his teacher again and when he could go to kindergarten. And we had a really cute picture of our little man with one of his new favorite people:
So…as a start to kindergarten, this seemed like a fabulous way to begin to connect our family with our new family at Robinson. For both my kiddo and myself, it took away nerves and gave us an opportunity to see his teacher as a person, not just a teacher. But on the other side, I know that it also gave her a chance to connect with Riley on “his turf”–to see where he plays, where he eats, where he sits and reads a book on the couch with his mom. And if we had a dog, I know she’d have met our dog so that when he wrote story after story about that dog Ms. Dale would know who he meant. Instead, she met his little sister. 🙂
As we started planning for our first grade year this fall, I remembered back to this special day with my kiddo and suggested that maybe we try this with our new friends. There is research to show that there are benefits for teachers and families in every grade level and it was exciting to try it with another grade of little ones in our school. The team and our principal thought it was a great idea!
So here we are and I’ve just begun my home visits for this year. I have only gone to a few, but so far I have met 5 kiddos, 3 older brothers, 1 older sister, 2 little sisters, 1 little brother, 3 dogs, countless dolls and horses; played several games of War and Go Fish, read almost 10 books and of course become acquainted with the fabulous parents that are so kindly sharing these lovely children with me this year (hopefully I didn’t forget anyone in this list!). It’s been great to see how comfortable they all have been, and how proud they seem to be that THEIR teacher is in THEIR house sitting on THEIR couch. I love how I’m already able to picture these little learners in my classroom, too; I know this will add another important level to the way I put our classroom together this year since it will be for kids I actually know–not just faceless names on a classlist. And as I was telling one of those kiddos as I sat on her green couch the other day, I am excited for how this will alleviate some of my first day jitters (yes, even teachers get those!) because instead of wondering who will walk in my door, I’ll be ready to welcome old friends to our new home. I’m pretty jazzed about that part.
So I have to say a HUGE thank you to those of you who have already welcomed me into your homes, and to those of you I haven’t met yet—I’m coming! And I’m excited! See you soon! 🙂