7 Tips for Effective School-Parent Communication
Building a strong and trusting relationship between schools and parents is crucial for the development of students. School principals can establish this bond through effective communication. These seven tips will ensure your communications are practical and valuable for your school community.
Communication is the cornerstone of any successful partnership. To ensure efficient and streamlined communication:
1. Use Centralized Platforms
Utilize centralized platforms, such as a dedicated school app or web page, to consolidate information, announcements, and updates in one accessible, searchable location.
2. Stay Consistent
Send concise and informative newsletters regularly, highlighting learning, important events, achievements, and upcoming activities.
Every school is unique—one principal might choose weekly updates, while another settles on a monthly cadence. What’s important is finding a consistency that doesn’t overload your plate while still providing families with enough information so they feel like a valued, informed part of the school community.
If you have a district communications department, partner to develop an effective, achievable communications plan. Believe it or not, a solid plan should bring down your workload, not add to it.
3. Plan Real-Time Alerts
Implement a system for real-time alerts, such as text messages or push notifications, to keep parents informed about emergencies, school closures, or urgent announcements. Templates are your best friend.
4. Be Proactive
The pandemic forced us all into the bad behavior of communicating at the last minute. But last-minute communications can make your families mad. Your communications should be proactive and forecasting six weeks ahead.
“It frustrates me to receive last-minute emails about dress-up days or events,” said Ashley Winter, CEL Content Marketing Coordinator. “Families are busy, and we plan months ahead. We need ample time to plan, purchase, and coordinate.”
5. Lead with Learning
Your school has a LOT of amazing things going on each year, but it’s easy for learning to get lost in the shuffle. Ensure that learning and academics take center stage in your communications. Events, activities and athletics are important but shouldn’t overshadow your purpose.
6. Useability Over Beauty
We love a well-branded design more than anyone, but useability and accessibility should come first. A branded PDF may look amazing, but if families can’t search for or translate the information they need, your communication is not effective. Ask yourself the following questions when setting up your communications plan:
Can families search their email inboxes and find the information they need?
Can the information be easily translated (through a website translation option or copy-pasted into a translation service?)
Is the information archived somewhere, so if a family deletes the email, they can find the information again on your website?
7. Stay Skimmable
It’s tempting to get cute and clever with your email subjects or newsletter headlines, but busy families appreciate knowing what an email is before they open it. Clearly title your communications so families know when something is urgent.
“Use a common-sense layout when designing a newsletter template,” recommends Katie Fuller, CEL Digital Strategist. Sections should be clear and consistent. Families need to be able to skim and find the information they want to read easily.”
For example, take a look at some Smore templates for inspiration. A high school newsletter may include a note from the principal, upcoming events, career and college information, and follow with other important information from the school. An elementary newsletter may start with the learning focus for that week, classroom events that require parent participation, and follow with district or school-wide events and activities.
“Families are inundated with info,” Ashley noted. “I receive numerous emails from school—teacher updates, principal newsletters, volunteer and event notices, community ed offerings, club updates, and more. Families can be easily overwhelmed with so many communicators in one school/district.”
There’s no single right way to design your information, but staying consistent with templates and an annual communications plan will help you remain an effective school-parent communicator.
If you need help writing your one-page communications plan, or you think your school staff would benefit from professional development in effective school-parent communications or best practices in accessibility, please contact us! We’re here to help.
Published on: February 7, 2024