Purposeful Home Visits With ELLs

Create meaningful family engagement with the families of English-language learners.

August 2016, Volume 39, Issue 12

Parent engagement is key to a successful school, but it’s often hard to accomplish in a significant way. It can be especially difficult for those working in schools with a high population of English language learners, where the differences in both language and culture present unique challenges.

Home visits can provide an important opportunity for educators to meaningfully connect with families, create trust, and overcome some of these challenges. In “Home Visit Tips for ELLs,” authors Belinda Y. Louie and Richard Knuth show that understanding your students defining a purpose for home visits goes a long way towards successful parent engagement:


Determine the Purpose
It is imperative for effective administrators to understand the match and the mismatch between home and school before attempting to bridge both worlds. Education World writer Sherril Steele-Carlin, in her article “Teacher Visits Hit Home,” reports her conversations with school leaders about how home visit programs work. ELLs’ academic performance is frequently linked to the congruence between their home cultures and the expectations and practices of school. Home visits by administrators and teachers communicate to families how much the school cares for their children and their well-being. This demonstration of care builds the foundational trust necessary to engage many parents of ELLs in their children’s education.

As an example, over the summer one principal made home visits before the school year started, during which he learned the names and other crucial information about some of the families of the school’s ELLs. After the school year started, a Somalian mother expressed her delight and surprise that the principal greeted her by her name, “Fatima,” on the first day of school. As a result, she instantly found the school to be a welcoming place. And when the teacher later asked Fatima to volunteer in her son’s classroom, she readily accepted the invitation.

Purposeful home visits often result in positive outcomes, as in Fatima’s case. Visit ELL families to:

  • Find out the language preference and proficiency of the parents and student;
  • Learn the names of family members;
  • Gather information about the ELL’s previous schooling experience;
  • Understand the parents’ expectations for teachers and the school;
  • Identify ways that school can support parents and vice versa; and
  • Learn about community resources that parents find valuable.

Read the full article from Principal magazine for more tips on how best to conduct home visits with parents of ELLs.

Copyright © 2016. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP’s reprint policy.