Communication Strategies That Keep Schools Engaged With Families and the Community
When it comes to school-family relations, communication is the name of the game. Clear, high-quality communication helps families stay involved with their children’s education and helps them know what to expect when interacting with teachers and district officials.
Many families lead hectic lifestyles with busy schedules, and they want to know what is on the horizon so they can plan their lives accordingly. This is true for both information within the classroom, and broader information from the school district at large.
This article will go over a few basic tips that school districts can use to help improve communication with families.
Tips to Help Improve School Communication
The best thing you can do to ensure that your school district has excellent communication with parents is to simply reach out regularly with updates, even if you have no major announcements.
Newsletters can be a great way to reach out once or twice per month to check in with families, let them know what is going on around the district, and give parents some ways they can get involved.
When you do need to make major announcements, be sure to include all the details to prevent confusion and cut down on questions after the fact.
Here are some quick tips to take into consideration:
- Be straightforward with information and outline what you are going to say
- Give them a timeline of when they will receive information
- Give them all the details you have available
- Restate what you have told them to wrap up
The most important thing is that you are clear and concise. Say what you are going to say and do not bog down your message with unnecessary information or fluff.
Help Families Stay Engaged
Families want to be engaged with their children’s education, but they often do not know how to start.
The best thing you can do to help engagement is to give families access to the information being taught in the classroom. This helps parents reinforce lessons and helps children keep up with proper studying techniques.
Create a centralized place where parents can access teachers' classroom activities. Beyond that, you can encourage teachers to send daily or weekly emails on lesson content, reiterating what the students have learned that week, to help parents stay in the loop.
Keep Communication Clear and Simple
Your district’s students come from diverse backgrounds and homes from many different cultures. Because of this, information that is too wordy or complicated can often lose its meaning.
Some parents may speak languages besides English at home so the information you relay should be easily translatable with simple online translators.
The best thing you can do is to keep your announcements clear and simple. This will help parents easily interpret what you are communicating, even if they only have time to skim your message.
Online Communication Tools for Schools
Your school’s website is the most powerful communication tool you have. Make sure you are using these features to maximize your school’s communication power.
Online forms are an excellent and cost-effective way for schools to communicate with families. For example, you can use online forms to host registration, medical forms, surveys, or any type of form that parents have to submit.
Why use online forms?
- They are a breeze to fill out and parents do not have to print out anything
- Less paper used. Your recycling bin will be thankful.
- Parents can fill out forms on their smartphones or tablets, making online forms more convenient.
- Forms are built directly on your school’s website, so finding them is easy.
- Reporting an absence is easier than ever before. Online forms make sure absent information goes directly to the proper administrator and saves parents’ time.
Provide parents with more information about the school's policies and procedures, such as days off and attendance policies. Parents should have all this information at the beginning of the school year so that they can have these announcements scheduled in advance.
School Mobile App Lets You Streamline Information
Keep it simple. Your school’s mobile app allows you to communicate relevant information directly to parents’ and students’ phones.
You want to make sure you are captivating all your users, and that means keeping the interface easy to use, easy to understand, and as straightforward as possible. While you will want some advanced features for your power users, your priority should be onboarding parents and families who are just getting started with the app and keeping them there.
Parents can select only the schools they are interested in so that they are not bombarded with irrelevant updates.
Use push notifications sparingly. They are a terrific way to give valuable information directly to parents. But if they are used too much, you can bet on parents silencing your app. Decide in advance how often you'd like to send out reminders and other messages with push notifications; doing so ensures that your users feel informed without feeling bombarded by messages every day of the week.
Make sure that your app is compatible with different devices so your features run smoothly everywhere they are used.
Internet accessibility is the idea that websites and web tools should be designed and developed with everyone in mind, including individuals who have difficulty accessing information because of their disabilities.
This includes blind and visually impaired people, deaf and hard-of-hearing people, people with learning disabilities, color blindness, and more.
Web accessibility can be as simple as ensuring an accessible website design for all users or as complex as providing real-time captioning for every video on a website.
Newsletters are Your Friend
Newsletters are a great way to keep parents on friendly terms and keep them in the loop.
Make sure you do the following:
- Allow parents to sign up for your newsletter on your website
- Email newsletters and provide a pdf link on your site
- Post the newsletter as a blog for a specific school instead of sending it out to the whole district
Encourage parents to be more involved in their child's education. The most effective way for students to get a good education is through a collaborative effort between teachers and parents. When parents are notified about what is going on at school, they can provide support for their children's learning at home.
Better Communication Builds Better Schools
Quality communication is the best thing you can do to ensure that parents get all the relevant information they need to stay involved in their children’s education.
Families want to stay involved but they likely lead hectic lifestyles and may not have time to hunt down information themselves.
When schools focus on communication, they make it easy for parents to keep up with their children’s education.
One of the best ways to ensure that your school district has superior communication is by building and maintaining an effective website.
Legend Web Works has helped dozens of schools and school districts improve their communication by building school websites that go beyond the status quo.