School Communications
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Writing for Busy Families

Concise communication between schools and parents is essential for student success. Keep messages clear and interesting, and families will feel more welcomed, informed, and involved.

Use a Conversational Style

Effective school-home communication begins with a simple yet powerful shift— embrace a conversational style. Forget the stuffy language and jargon. Whether you’re writing newsletters, emails, or even just chatting on the phone, keep things friendly and down-to-earth. You’ll connect far better with families and build a stronger relationship.

Original: “Please be aware of the adjustments to our school’s drop-off and pick-up procedures.”

Revised: “Our school’s drop-off and pick-up routines are getting an upgrade!”

Navigating drop-off and pick-up times is seldom a highlight for anyone, particularly for families waiting in long lines. By framing the change in routines as an “upgrade,” the communication takes on a more engaging quality and fosters a positive outlook.

“The opening and closing sentences should be short, simple, and warm,” Ashley Winter, content marketing coordinator at CEL, reminds us. “These sentences are virtual handshakes — they set the tone for the entire communication. Families should instantly know if your communication is ‘business as usual’ or a change message.”

Start emails with friendly greetings like “Hello [School Name] families!” and end them with a positive closing like “Wishing you a fantastic day ahead!”

Put the Important Information First

Get straight to the point! Families are busy, so tell them what they need to know following the guidelines of plain language. Families need to:

  • Find what they need
  • Understand what they find
  • Use what they find to meet their needs

Nobody has time to read a novel to know what time the school assembly is. A focused message makes it easier for busy families to grasp critical information quickly.

Original: “We are hosting a school assembly next month, and we wanted to share some details with you. The assembly will take place on the 15th of March in the gymnasium at 6:00 PM. It will feature student performances and presentations from our guest speakers. We encourage families to attend and show their support for our talented students. Additionally, there will be refreshments available in the foyer after the event. We hope to see you there!”

Revised: “Save the date! Our school assembly on March 15th at 6:00 PM in the gymnasium will feature student performances and inspiring speakers. Support our talented students and join us for refreshments afterward. We can’t wait to see you there!”

Avoid Jargon

Using “eduspeak” might make it seem like we know what we’re talking about, but very few families speak education jargon. Even so, there’s a fine line between simplifying eduspeak and talking down to families. 

Using plain language demonstrates a desire to connect with families while also making translation easier for multilingual families:

Original: “Pedagogical strategies”

Revised: “teaching methods” or “learning goals.”

This shift allows families to engage more easily with the information provided. By eliminating language barriers, principals can bridge the gap between educators and families and promote a sense of inclusivity and understanding.

Invite Teamwork

Maintaining an equal, non-authoritative tone is important in building positive relationships between schools and families. Avoid language that may come across as overly authoritative or condescending. Instead, use inclusive language that emphasizes collaboration and partnership.

Original: “It is imperative that students complete their homework promptly.”

Revised: “Let’s work together to support our students in completing their homework on time.”

This approach encourages a sense of shared responsibility and fosters a supportive atmosphere.

“Creating emotional connections is another effective way to enhance the tone of communication,” advises Ashley. “Share success stories, celebrate achievements, and express gratitude. Highlight a student’s accomplishments in a newsletter or express appreciation for parent volunteers during a school event. These personal touches make communication more relatable and reinforce a sense of community.”

Fine Tune with Feedback

Ask what families are thinking. If your district doesn’t conduct regular climate surveys, consider doing a quick survey or hosting feedback sessions. These approaches give you valuable insights into how well your current communication methods are working. Fine-tune your communication strategies to meet the specific needs based on community feedback.



It’s time to take action and create meaningful connections with families. Let’s chat about how we can help you connect with your school community

Published on: March 12, 2024