Last year, for the first time ever, I dropped by the homes of each of my students before the first day of school. This evening I finished these visits again, and it's a tradition I'll likely continue to the end of my teaching career. Why? It's wonderful to have such a positive first contact with both my students (who are happy to get their little Welcome Back gift bag,) and also with their parent(s), who like to get the supply list and are most often tickled and grateful to have me stop by, and either introduce myself, or if I already know them, to just say "Hi." There was one mom last year and then another one this year who seemed annoyed---but the huge majority of parents seem to sincerely appreciate the gesture and they make it well worth my time and energy.
And--I guess it goes without saying--I learn stuff about my students that I might not ever otherwise learn; if they have younger siblings they care for, if they live in an apartment or in a house, and sometimes whether or not they have grandparents or aunts or uncles or cousins living with them. I'm about to start my seventh year of teaching and I've spent all my years at the same school. I love the neighborhood where I work and walking and driving around the area helps me feel even more connected to the wider community.