While most small and private schools dedicate thousands of dollars each year to make sure their classroom technology is up to date, that same dedication is less common when it comes to deploying technology to communicate with parents. The gap between what today’s mobile parents expect and what they are delivered is widening.
Below are some sobering facts about parent communications you may not know.
- 85% of newsletters remain unopened.
- The 15% who open the newsletters will spend less than two minutes viewing them. Reason? They are not relevant specifically to their child.
- 10% of the parent body contribute to policy changes. They are the ones who are engaged and/or donating.
- Once the school year has started parents will rarely access school websites to retrieve information. If you want to keep them engaged, you need to ‘push’ information to them.
- Parents still continue to call the front desk with questions regardless of whether or not they have installed a portal.
- Annual fundraisers are great, but the time and dedication needed can defocus administrators and parents from day-to-day needs, such as strong parent communications tools.
- The vast majority of parents are mobile and expect information at their fingertips.
The question is: What are you doing to improve your communications? It’s never too late to put a plan together to keep parents engaged every day of the school year. Easy to use apps such as SchoolCues don’t need months of preparation. They can be deployed in time for 2015. Maybe now is the time to take action.
SchoolCues provides smart solutions to help small schools succeed by engaging parents in the mobile generation.
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Students at Mililani Middle School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The research in this report, published by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, seems to point toward a definitive yes.
Researchers from psychologists to education specialists have all shown support for this idea. It certainly makes sense: middle school is a time of change, when students are transitioning from one extreme to another. Increased parental involvement could do wonders for kids by helping them adjust and prepare their study strategies, work expectations, and schedules for the extra work of high school.
Then again, it’s important to keep in mind that middle school and elementary school are no picnic, either. Can we really say that one age level is more important than another? Perhaps the best solution would be to agree that parental engagement is always important, no matter students’ age level.
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you agree that middle school is the most important time for parental engagement?
Why iPad (and tablets in general) will succeed (Photo credit: ticoneva)
With all the emphasis on integrating technology into schools, it can be difficult to figure out how to do so in a meaningful, cost-effective way. Luckily, here are three ways that schools can take advantage of all the new technologies around them:
1. Engage Kids: In numerous blogs and videos, the increasing use of technology to promote hands-on learning in the classroom has produced amazing results. New websites, classroom equipment, and more, allow students to learn real-world skills while still being guided by their teachers. Whether starting Facebook pages for the class pets or publishing creative writing assignments on a class blog, the opportunities that technology presents are endless. It’s something that more and more schools are beginning to institute- a new way of engaging kids, with great results for all.
2. Engage Parents: Just as engaging kids in the classroom is often one of the more difficult of a teacher’s job, finding ways to communicate and engage with parents is often the one area that schools find hardest to improve. Though several studies have proven that parental engagement in schools is one of the most invaluable influences on child success, it can be nearly impossible to stay connected with parents who are busy and constantly on the go. Various services like text messaging and mobile apps allow schools to stay in contact with parents not only through their computers, but through their cellphones- the device people are shown to be using more and more often in daily life.
3. Streamline Organization: With so many other options available, it’s surprising that so many schools continue to use paper to keep track of important files and communications. Though it can be easy to use and access, paper communications and files can also be messy, time consuming, and difficult to organize. New software and apps allow teachers and school administrators to get organized in new ways, so that schools can become more efficient. Online and cellphone-accessible calendars and messaging systems can help schools coordinate fundraisers, arrange parent-teacher conferences, and much more.
Of course, this is only a short list of ways that schools can use technology-what others do you think should be included? What’s been your experience with technology in schools?
“The Future is Coming!” (Photo courtesy of Scientific American, via blog.modernmechanix.com.)
Though we might not have to worry about flying car pileups, hooligans on hovercrafts, or robot rebellions anytime soon, the world around us is always changing. This is especially true with regards to the education world. A new generation of parents is shaking things up, and schools serving their children need to understand the new direction in which education is headed.
Times are certainly tough for schools (and likely to get tougher), but we believe that the best way to ensure success for the future is to observe the trends shaping the education world today. There are three “Mega-trends” that will almost certainly decide the direction in which education evolves: Social trends, Economic trends, and Technological trends.
1. THE SOciety
The new generation of parents is busy. It’s often difficult for parents to juggle their home and work lives- not to mention those of their children. As parents find it more and more difficult to stay involved despite their hectic work schedules, schools are beginning to notice that they might have to change the ways in which they interact with parents. Long gone are the days when every household had a housewife or PTA mom to handle all the school affairs; now, schools need to provide more flexible methods of communication with Moms and Dads who are busy, mobile, and constantly on the move.
Along these same lines, the advent of certain technological advances in the past decade mean that Gen-Y parents expect information to be readily available and easily accessible wherever they go. For many schools, this means that many of the old rules of school communication no longer apply. They need to find a way to market to these parents, using methods that will appeal to the wireless sentiments of this “iPhone” generation. Sending brightly colored leaflets home with children might not be the best way to connect with parents these days; Instead, schools can achieve better communication by paying attention to parents’ desire for flexible, easily accessible information.
Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2: Economic Trends!
Facebook has become a popular tool for school-parent communication. However, there could be many downsides using Facebook in schools that schools are either not aware of or tend to ignore.
- Using Facebook often consumes a lot of time. It is a medium for socialization, and users feel an irresistible need to constantly connect to others. This takes up time and can be all-consuming
- There is an unhealthy trend of parents being constantly wired, which can make it difficult for them to disengage from their social lives.
- Facebook offers a false sense of privacy that often develops from using text, photos and videos. This could have serious consequences in a public medium. What parents and schools do not realize is that anything that by posting on social media, they lose their control and ownership of that content. Most users rarely read the privacy terms and conditions on Facebook, which makes an interesting result.
- Most importantly, Facebook makes money for each additional person who signs up. So if an entire school signs up, it’s putting money in the pocket of Facebook and not the other way around, in a time where schools are financially hurting around the country.
So the broader question to ask is: are there better and more secure ways for schools to effectively engage and interact with parents, without using social media?
Children whose parents are involved in their school lives have always had an academic edge. Frequent communication with parents can result in improved student behavior and performance, as well as a better overall experience for both parent and child.
Schools constantly strive for improved communications and use many different avenues to reach out to parents. When communications are timely and consistent, schools and teachers are better equipped to manage their parent interactions. Parents are also more apt to listen and respond to the school’s requests in a consistent manner.
In a recent survey of parents across schools in the US, parents said that schools tended to over-communicate, leaving parents were facing a situation of receiving a great deal of information that wasn’t directly relevant to their child.
Parents are just as busy as teachers, and are forced to juggle their personal, professional and social lives with the lives of their children. Schools should communicate in a way that makes parents want to listen, by keeping their messages clear, concise, compelling and timely.