One of the most important audiences for a school is its parents. However, many parents complain that they don’t feel the school keeps them informed about important information. How is this possible?
The fact is parents of school-aged children are some of the busiest people on the planet. From making dinner, to soccer practice, to keeping up with day-to-day responsibilities (to the millions of other things they have going on in their lives), parents are just plain overwhelmed.
And while most schools are communicating, the communications may not be strategic enough when taking into consideration the end user.
With those facts in mind, here are some thoughts on ways to keep parents informed.
- Start newsletter communications with critical bullet points. Most schools provide a newsletter of some kind (electronic or print or both) to be delivered directly to parents on a regular basis. Most of these are substantial and include tons of information. That seems effective but the vast majority of parents don’t have time to read through all of that information. This gives busy parents the information that they absolutely need in seconds. They can read more of the newsletter if they choose but save them valuable time with this simple step.
- Encourage principals to record short smartphone videos to share key information instead of sending a long email. Busy parents are more likely to watch a short video than to read a long email. This strategy also provides a personal touch to the message which can help build trust with families.
- Instead of inviting families to come to the school for meetings, record virtual sessions where parents can submit questions in advance and those questions are then answered through a recorded video that is shared with all parents. This allows parents to engage and watch on their own time instead of at a date, time and location defined by the school.
- Use short surveys to find out what parents want to know more about and provide that information through a school’s communication channels. While schools believe they have a good sense of what parents want to know, these surveys can be enlightening and provide insight into key information that should be shared with parents.
- Planning a new initiative or program? Proactively share that information with parents as information is available, not when things are finalized. Explain why the change is needed, explain how it will benefit children, explain how any downsides are outweighed by the benefits. Without that type of advanced information, busy parents might hear rumors and half truths spreading among the parent community during the process.
Informed parents are one of the greatest assets for a school. Finding ways to keep all parents, even the busiest parents, informed about the school provides benefits for the school, the students and the parents.