With all the technology being used inside the classroom today, it is amazing how little technology is used outside the classroom to maximize (and automate) communications between parents and schools. Parents are still being buried with flyers, calendars, forms and information requests.
Following are five ways schools can engage parents by eliminating redundant, unnecessary communications and paring them down into concise doses of information that parents can digest much more easily.
- Stop those long winded newsletters (studies report that 85% of recipients will not open them). They take time to compile, format and distribute. No one is reading them!
- Automate all forms and make them available online and in one place. There are tools that can help you do this. As many forms as possible should be made available online with self-populating fields so that parents don’t have to re-enter addresses and phone numbers over and over again.
- Streamline and simplify websites. If parents have to go digging, they simply won’t. Trim your website down to only the essential information. Check your analytics and find out which pages are not being used. Eliminate them.
- Exchange long communications and emails for short reminders and alerts. The less text intensive they are, the more likely they will be read.
- Make as much information available on mobile phones as possible. That doesn’t mean bombarding parents with text messages and emails. This is 2014. There are apps available to make it easy and intuitive!
The bottom line is that schools need to find ways of communicating with parents that fit their lifestyles. Take the time to investigate solutions available to schools. They do not have to be expensive and tedious to implement. Centralizing and streamlining your communications with parents will improve your relationship with them and make your school more competitive.
SchoolCues provides smart solutions to help small schools succeed by engaging parents in the mobile generation.
Photo courtesy of Scottchan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In today’s world, would a carrier pigeon do a better job of delivering a school message or a reminder to the busy parent over back packs and websites? Or would the parent be more engaged on a traditional email or text message? Even better, could a school mobile app seal the deal?
It’s a well known fact that timely, actionable and relevant communication is the key to parental loyalty and your school’s success. Your message has less than 9 seconds to make a connection and register with the parent in order to grab their attention and get them to act. This is one of the reasons that over 85 % of newsletters go unopened. Irrespective of how relevant and colorful the content in a newsletter or on an elegantly designed school website, an overwhelming majority of parents will still NOT read it simply because it’s yet another place for them to go to and retrieve information that is not brief, timely, relevant or actionable.
It is not surprising that parental engagement is one of the most challenging issues facing small schools today.
How do you keep your school’s parents engaged and have them respond in a timely manner?
We recently surveyed over 5,000 parents and small school administrators around the country, and became well acquainted with the way today’s schools communicate with parents. Here are our TOP TEN findings:
Over 70% of Montessori schools primarily use standalone newsletters and websites to communicate with parents.
- It takes an average of 5 hours for a school to create, edit, compile, and send out a newsletter (using an existing template, with input by several school staff members).
- The average school newsletter consists of over 750 words, or approximately two and a half pages of text.
- Parents spend less than two minutes of their time reading newsletters, which translates to a maximum of 360 words. This means that over 50% of school newsletter content goes unread.
- 85% of school newsletters sent to parents remain unopened.
- Parents receive more than 70 emails daily, including newsletters, credit card statements, and payment reminders. Personal emails make up less than 20%of their inboxes.
- The human brain cannot process and retain more than seven (plus or minus two) pieces of information in short term memory (Think social security, phone number, driver’s license, license plates, etc.)
- School websites are primarily marketing tools that allow new (prospective) parents to find out more about schools.
- Once a child is enrolled in a school, parents visit school websites to retrieve information; they prefer to receive information.
- Annually, Montesori schools spend over $ 6,000.00 – $ 8000.00 on newsletters and websites, in an attempt to market to and engage with parents.
For all small schools, whether charter, montessori, or private, administrators might want to question whether their current method of communication is truly the best.
School administrators and teachers spend a lot of time crafting fancy newsletters, with pretty colors and pictures. Some schools also print newsletters, costing them additional expenses in the form of paper and print costs.
We surveyed parents from Public, Private and Charter schools around the country to find what they thought of school newsletters. The response was not surprising. Over 70% of parents do not read school newsletters. The reasons quoted were all related to the newsletter content:
1. Not relevant to the parent
2. Too much information.
3. Does not provide specific actions for busy parents.
4. Does not offer any specific value to keep the parents interested or engaged.
5. Discounts the fact that parents are equally busy.
We asked parents what would make them read their school’s newsletters. The four most important factors that would make parents read their school or class newsletters were:
(a) Short newsletters (< 100 words)
(b) Specific content
(c) Directly relevant to their child and
(d) Delivered to their email inbox or mobile device.
We will continue to discuss how newsletters can be made more valuable for both schools and parents.