A Guide to Staying Connected With ParentsSeptember 15, 2020
As we all know, parent communication is an essential part of a family’s relationship with your school. We often place most of our focus on building connections with parents pre-enrollment but nurturing these relationships throughout their entire lifetime at your school is equally as important – and that’s what we’re diving into today!
Why is parent communication important?
Parents and guardians are the decision-makers in their child’s education journey, so it’s essential that you arm them with all of the facts. Depending on which stage they’re up to in your enrollment pipeline, it’s important to know when, where and how to communicate with them.
Ensuring that you’re communicating regularly with parents keeps them informed and involved with your school and their child’s education (a key factor in any successful educational experience). As Dr Rob Loe pointed out in our recent Timely and Targeted Parent Communication virtual forum, 80% of success in education comes down to what happens at home, so keeping parents engaged is the key!
Tools for parent connection
There are a number of ways in which schools can communicate and interact with parents in order to stay connected, it just depends on where and when they prefer to engage. You know your community best, so feel free to use a combination of the following tools.
A school blog
A blog is a great inbound marketing channel that fills content gaps and provides a platform to write in more detail about topics that are important to your community. This might include topics such as; how to motivate your child to do homework, healthy school lunch ideas, or this example from, Lourdes Hill College, where they have written a blog on parenting through your child’s friendship issues.
Source: Lourdes Hill College
Writing about real pain points parents might be experiencing can provide a little extra support and guidance. As a bonus, blogging is also an effective way to improve your school websites’ SEO by positioning your website to a larger audience when it is optimized correctly. You can optimize your school blog by including keywords in your blog titles and headings, which will in turn improve your SEO and increase your opportunity to rank higher in Google searches.
Does your school have a parent and friends (P&F) committee? If so, this is another great way for parents to get involved and add value to the school from a parent perspective. P&F committees help to increase the connection between parents, students, and staff, as members collaboratively work together to plan and organize fundraising and school activities. The majority of parent committees have set chair members but there should also be informal roles in your committee that allow for any parents to attend and have their say.
Parent-teacher interviews are an opportunity for teachers to directly communicate and connect with parents and convey important information about their child. It’s no secret that parent-teacher interviews have been around for years, so you probably have a solid strategy for this, but you want to ensure that your teachers are using this communication tool to openly and respectfully communicate with the parent about their child’s schooling and progress. This also gives the parent an opportunity to voice any concerns from their end and indicate if their child needs any extra support from the school.
You can utilize school events to interact with parents throughout their child’s schooling. When looking at your events schedule you should be putting aside a certain number of events in the school year that are dedicated to targeting current parents of the school. These events could include parent trivia nights, information sessions, or special assemblies, where current parents can meet other parents and staff of the school. To encourage parents to attend these school events you can market your school event through multiple channels. These channels should include email marketing, your school website, social media posts, and a school communication app such as the Digistorm school app.
While all of the tools we’ve just mentioned are an effective way to reach and connect with parents, in our opinion, you can’t go past a school app – keep reading to find out why.
Implementing a parent communication app
Parent communication apps solve a number of challenges for schools and parents, especially with information that is often lost in translation from the child to the parent. Parent communication apps like the Digistorm App can bridge the gap by offering a convenient and efficient communication tool for schools to quickly and effectively reach parents.
In the past, schools have used paper notices and newsletters to distribute information to parents. With the Digistorm school app, you can create custom modules on the app for notices, newsletters, and an events calendar.
Notices offer a platform for transferring brief and frequent information to parents that they need to be aware of. The content of your school notices can be quite broad ranging from parent-teacher interview dates to the new tuckshop menu, but you want to ensure that no matter what the content is, that the notice is relevant and timely, to help nudge parents to read the notice. If you have a large amount of information that you want to convey in a notice you can also upload key documents and attachments to the notice.
Your school Newsletter is the perfect platform to offer parents regular news updates and detailed information that is not necessarily time-sensitive. Parents are interested in the everyday life and happenings of their child’s week, so if they can access this information in a newsletter they are more likely to feel connected to the school.
You can push your notices, newsletters, and urgent information directly to parents via alerts or push notifications on the Digistorm School app. If you are unfamiliar with push notifications, it’s a short message that can be sent and will pop up on a user’s mobile home screen. Push notifications should be around 60 - 90 characters to ensure that the message is concise and will grab the attention of the reader, to make sure that they then take further action to open the push notification. Parents can become frustrated and feel distant when they miss important messages from schools. For example, if their child’s soccer practice was extended by an hour and they weren’t informed, it is then frustrating for the parent when they arrive to pick up their child at the incorrect time.
Lastly, you can use the events calendar in your school app to ensure that parents are aware and can access all of the events linked to their child, in one easy to access place. A calendar overview means that parents won’t need to be juggling between multiple calendars and will have enough time to plan their own schedules around events that they may need to attend. Once parents are comfortable with the app they can choose to filter relevant events for a more personalized app experience.If your school is interested in learning more about parent communication using Digistorm’s range of software for schools, contact us today.