School Communication

One Thing Families Want From Schools Today - Communication

School communication has been a critical issue in these dynamic times. Here are five communication problems and solutions that will result in better parent engagement.


February is the month of relationships, and here at Edlio our primary focus is on the relationships between schools and families. That’s why we understand that strong communication is at the heart of these relationships, and why we work to provide solutions for schools to streamline their communication. 

Growing up, I was the kid where (as embarrassing as it was for me) my parents worked very hard to have a first name relationship with my school and my teachers. My dad even wrote an Op-Ed praising the teachers in my district, and they thanked me in class the next day—I was mortified. Looking back, my parents were in the unique position to have a lot of time to pursue this type of relationship. My dad was much older and retired by the time I was in middle school, and my mom was working part-time. 

As an adult, as I examine my own family's relationship with our school district and preschool, we don’t have that luxury. Our relationship is strained, distant, and at times over the last two years, on the verge of a breakup. We’ve gone so far as to research neighboring school districts, figuring it doesn’t hurt to just look. What’s the problem? School Communication.

Everyone is looking for better communication between schools and families. The more consistent and clear the communication, the stronger the relationship between the two will be, and the more parent engagement your school will have. Here are five easy solutions for better communication between schools and families.

CommunicationsFrequent Communication - If you don’t have something to say…say something!

Don’t leave parents in the dark. Even if there is no new information, communicate that so families don’t think their internet is broken. For example, if your schedule of distance and in-person learning changes regularly, let your families know when they can expect to hear announcements about these changes. That way you won’t have to field calls from families every day asking about the same issue. 

The best practice is to communicate clearly and often. . Parents sometimes ask the same question many times in many ways, so the best thing you can do to avoid this is to give them an abundance of information. Just as in public speaking, a rule of thumb to follow with family communication is to:

  • Tell them what you’re going to tell them
  • Tell them when you’re going to tell them (the when is for parents)
  • Tell them
  • Tell them what you’ve told them

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Icon ContentEasy Paperwork - Isn’t this the end goal for everyone?

There’s a lot of paperwork with school. If the paperwork could be simplified, more parents would do it…and probably do it on time! For example, to fill out a form to pay for a field trip, a family member has to:

  • Go to the school website
  • Download the form
  • Print it
  • Fill it out
  • Staple a check to the form
  • Send it back to school with their child

There are too many steps involved in this process that you’re likely to get people who just won’t get it done. Additionally, there is risk involved that it might sit at the bottom of a backpack for a week or two before being turned in, at which point it might be too late. 

For our household, we would have to hope there’s enough ink in the printer, along with paper that hasn’t already been drawn on. If you can offer families a way to complete paperwork online or from a phone, and pay for their fees at the same time, you will have a higher rate of participation. Plus, you’re giving them something to do while they wait in the pick-up line at school (with their car in park, of course)!.

AdminsAutomatic Engagement - What family doesn’t want to be engaged in their child’s education?

Families have a strong desire to be engaged, but knowing how to start and where to go is complicated. Families want the access and information to know what’s going on in the classroom and in their child’s academic life on a day-to-day basis. Having to ask your child to see a syllabus can be like pulling teeth. The dinner conversations are always the same:

What did you do in school today?

Nothing.

Do you have anything to study for or upcoming assignments?

No.

Having a clear, centralized place to view all teachers and class activity would make family engagement easier. Being able to receive automatic updates from your child’s teachers in a daily email would change the conversation to: Tell me about the “To Kill A Mockingbird” discussion today. Just watch the jaws drop. 

CalendarConvenient Calendars - It’s time to retire the Calendar Key.

Just as parents have a hard time printing out forms, reading a calendar key and printing out a calendar is hard as well. Parents want everything on their phone if possible. Being able to subscribe to a school calendar and have it sync into their family calendar is ideal. 

For a lot of schools there is a late start date, early start, early out, school starts at different times, etc. This becomes a coordinating nightmare for worki

ng parents, especially when school starts at odd times like 7:48 am. 

A calendar that’s easy to find and easy to read on any device could ease the tension these treacherous schedules create. 

 

QuestionsTranslatable Messages - None of this matters if everyone can’t
read it.

All of the communication and engagement efforts schools make today don’t matter at all if the communication isn’t in the language spoken at home. You don’t have to hire an expensive translator for every language; you just have to make sure that the information you publish can easily be translated through a browser. 

In order for that to happen, forms and PDFs need to be in a format that a browser can translate. PDFs can easily be copied and pasted into their own web pages, and forms should be published through a platform that translates. Any other messaging, such as text and voicemails, should be translated into the languages spoken at home. This way you’re leveling the playing field so all parents get all the information. 

With clear, more consistent school communication that’s easy to understand, and translatable to all, families will easily be able to participate in events, have fewer questions, and feel trust and confidence in their relationship with their child’s school. This way, when families receive a message from the school where the preview reads, in an abundance of caution,” they will not have been in the dark, and will bravely be able to open the email, text message, or push notification, with confidence, and face the news. 

Remember, schools and families want the same thing, and that’s to see our children succeed!


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