Communication with Parents: What Are The Best Options for Schools and Teachers?Jason Siddall
Few things are more important to a parent than their child’s wellbeing while at school. Good schools, pre-schools, and day care centres recognise that effective and timely communication with parents is one of the most important aspects of their business.
The methods of school communication used to pass on important information to parents have changed over the years, and especially with the advent of mobile devices, even though the information itself remains very much the same.
What information is important? And what are the preferred methods of communication with parents?
What Information Do Parents Need?
Parent communication falls into various categories such as:
- School events, promotions and fundraising
- School policies, code of conduct, opening and closing times
- Contact information for accounts, heads of department or administration personnel
- Current financial information including reminders for payments of fees or extramural activities
- Community and security information
- Individual reports, progress or areas of concern
- Sports information
- Changes in scheduled activities
Obviously, some information will be more time-sensitive than others, some more personal, and very often some will need to be repeated… numerous times.
This will certainly dictate what channel of communication would be ideal.
How to Communicate With Parents
Most preschools and daycare centres will have a notice book which goes home with the parents on a daily basis. Notices, reminders, invoices and events are easily stored in one place – which is great. Until the book gets lost, left at home (or at the other parents’ house) or somehow goes through the wash. (It happens!)
Notice boards at the school entrance, outside the classrooms and on a central noticeboard are also commonly used and are a great reminder of upcoming events and the like. They’re not ideal for personal reminders, however.
This is where electronic communication really shines!
Emails, text messages and WhatsApp groups have proved to be a game changer for schools dedicated to superior communication to parents of the children in their care.
The fact that these electronic messages are quickly and easily accessible on most mobile devices makes them a valuable tool.
However, school personnel are usually not experts in IT and communication so it may be tricky to decide on the best communication medium as well as implement it in a cost-efficient way.
WhatsApp: Groups and Personal Messages
WhatsApp is a very popular medium for instant messaging. It is simple to use and free. Individual or group messages are easy, time-stamped and have pretty straightforward saving or archiving capabilities.
The downside, however, is that important messages can easily be lost in a flood of smiley faces and thumbs-up emoticons. Regulating the timing and content of the messages from the individual members can also be tricky, such as overenthusiastic parents confirming birthday party RSVPs at 4:45 am.
This is a brilliant way of communicating private and important info and has great record keeping abilities.
However, not everyone accesses their email on their mobile device so it’s possibly not ideal for time-sensitive messages like last-minute schedule changes or emergencies.
Official forms and public information should be accessible and downloadable from the school’s website. If it is mobile friendly, then this makes for a quick and easy reference point no matter if parents are in front of their laptops or shopping with their smartphone.
Facebook and Instagram are a great way to communicate school and sporting events, PR and marketing information.
It’s doubtful that parents would visit social media sites for important school information, however.
Mobile Apps (With Push Notifications)
Mobile apps like the ubiquitous D6 Communicator have gone a long way towards filling the need for effective communication from schools.
Information such as curriculum set up, reports, certificates, marks, general admin messages, code of conduct, financials, sports, and emergency details are available all in one place with the added benefits of calendars and reminders for busy parents.
SMS or Phone Call
In an emergency or with personal or sensitive information, school administrators or teachers are best off with a direct message or a brief phone call.
School Communication Strategy
Whatever your choices are regarding parent/school communication, electronic messaging which is accessible on mobile is certainly one of the best options. Many schools have seen a significant reduction in operational costs such as in printing and paper, as well as freeing up teachers for the important task of caring for the children in their care.
Does your institution need help to implement a solid communication strategy? Why not chat with the Cellfind team today?