Parent Friendly CommunicationOct 08, 2021
Could you improve the way information is shared between home and school? Here are 5 areas to think about when planning your school communication strategy.
1. Use simple language
Schools often use educational terminology or acronyms, but these should generally not be used in correspondence with parents. In addition to making the text difficult to decipher and understand, there is a risk of sounding distant and unapproachable. Minimising the use of 'teacher speak' and keeping communication transparent makes the message much more accessible to parents.
However, there are times where it may benefit parents to understand some of the language used in school, for example, when discussing examinations or in progress reports. Remember that these terms require explanation; adding a glossary to policies, annual progress reports, and any other relevant documents will help parents better understand the 'how and why' of the curriculum.
2. Frequency of communication
Frequent communication is essential for relationship building. It gives parents more insight into their child's learning and what's happening in their child's school life. Digital platforms such as Weduc, ClassDojo and 2Simple are a great way to communicate and share the learning that is happening at school and home.
Of course, you don't want to bombard parents with too much information. Plan communications ahead of time, be consistent, and let parents know what they can expect and via which platform. Where parents struggle to access communications via your preferred channel, consider a coaching session to show them how to use the app or social media.
Some parents may need paper versions or face to face sessions to ensure important documents are shared or completed. Research tells us that sending a text to prompt parents to read an email or letter increases the read rate. Getting parents to write down information themselves, rather than giving them a handout is also a good way to ensure important information is acknowledged.
3. The Personal Touch
Whole school mailshots will invariably be irrelevant to some parents and may lead to important information going unread. Targeting information ensures parents receive only information related to them and their child, resulting in higher read and response rates.
Addressing correspondence to parents' first names and sending from a named email account ([email protected]) will make the recipient feel even more connected.
As one parent said to us recently: "If it says 'dear parents' on it, and not my name, I don't bother reading it as I know it's not for me".
These are the quick wins that schools can achieve by understanding the capabilities of the messaging platforms they are already using. Get in touch with your provider and see what changes can be made.
4. Make receiving good news the norm
All too often, parents' experiences of school communication fall into either the 'admin' or the 'negative' categories. It is not always the case that schools only get in touch when something is wrong; however, this is a perception that parents often share.
Pledge to share good news more often, both individually, to acknowledge the small personal achievements and publicly celebrate the bigger wins.
Contact parents by text or leave a voicemail on their phone to praise their child's achievements/behaviour/progress that day. Be sure to share the good news of both students and teachers on social media and the website. Always keep a log of communication with parents, so it's possible to track the balance of good and bad news sent out to each family. This kind of practice can be the bedrock of positive relationships for learning and can change parents' perceptions. They will think positively of the school and be more receptive to difficult news when it does happen.
5. Remember, parents are partners in learning
Parents are their child's first educators. The research indicates that parents take a back seat once a child starts school, letting the school lead the way. Setting the scene for an ongoing partnership early in the home-school relationship retains parental confidence. It makes them a valuable resource for the academic attainment of not just their child but for the whole school community!
Providing parents with the opportunity to communicate will encourage them to get more involved in their child's learning and educational activities. If you want to implement any of the ideas in this blog, www.youteachme.co.uk would be a simple yet powerful way to do it. It's joined-up video learning that takes parent communication about each child's teaching, learning and wider school experience to a whole new level.
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