How much do I value families’ everyday routines in being able to positively influence children’s development? So very much. Yet… how often do I find myself on a home visit either: 1) only talking with a family about their routines, or 2) engaging with the family in only the routine of play? Too often!
Values versus Actions
What we know about early interventionists is that they tend to have values that align with current recommended practices about the importance of providing services that focus on families’ everyday routines. However, we also know that even with those values, our services tend to focus heavily on having discussions with families, or when we do participate in routines with them and their children, that routine tends to be play-based.
As the saying goes: ‘It’s easier to talk the talk, than walk the walk.’
Neither of these things, discussions or a focus on play, are problematic. Yet we know that our services have much greater potential to be useful to families and supportive of their children when they focus on the typical, everyday parts of their lives.
Therefore, if we want to be most supportive of families and their children, our actions during home visits need to align with our beliefs about the importance of all types of family routines!
Get Back to Walking the Walk
Many of us may be stuck in the ‘talk the talk’ portion of this – we know and value families’ routines. We may talk and brainstorm with families about many routines each time we see them. But how often are these routines themselves the focus of our visits?
Now may be the time to say to ourselves: “It’s time to get back to walking the walk!” That may mean doing some active observation of a particular family routine and providing strength-based feedback, or it may mean being part of the routine with the family (such as going on a walk to the park together). If we want to get back to ‘walking the walk’ of routines based services, one way to do this is to take a moment to evaluate your visits with families. Pause. Reflect. Be generous with yourself and notice your strengths. Be willing to notice the routines you struggle to be part of with families. Take the time to think about the barriers that either you or the family may face.
You are likely very knowledgeable about recommended practices in early intervention. Therefore, one of the most powerful ways to shape who you are as a continually developing professional is to simply reflect on what you do. Self-reflection can be a great step in the right direction for us as professionals by using it to first identify where we are now, and then set goals about where we’d like to be heading.
A Resource for Self-Reflection
This resource, Self-Reflection Worksheet on Home Visiting, can help you to do some self-reflection. Open up the link and take a moment to yourself, or discuss the questions with a trusted colleague. What do you notice when you reflect on the services you provide? For example:
- How do you spend time with families and their children during your visits?
- What routines could you incorporate into your visits with families in order to move past discussion?
- What are the barriers that you or the families you work with are facing that may make this challenging?
- What are your greatest strengths based on these questions, and what are the areas you hope to improve upon?
Share something you learn from this self-reflection by leaving a comment below!
Kalli is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education & Child Services at Montana State University where her research focuses on early intervention services. Kalli also works part time as a Family Support Specialist through Family Outreach, a nonprofit agency in Bozeman, Montana. As a Family Support Specialist Kalli provides early intervention through home visiting services for infants and toddlers with delays or disabilities and their families.