Five reasons why schools are challenged in keeping their parents engaged.
- Over 75% of small schools are faced with declining enrollment and / or budgets year over year. With limited technology infrastructure and resources, they are constantly in search of that ideal solution to market to and engage with parents. Its a version of an “abracadabra” which either doesn’t exist or it’s called a custom solution!
- School websites are primarily a marketing tool for new (prospective) parents to find out more about the schools. Existing parents rarely go to their school websites, irrespective of how relevant the content is. Yet schools constantly upgrade, change, knead, and spruce up their web content and spend valuable $$ on SEO and social media, trying to increase their traffic. But research shows that over 80% of a school’s enrollment comes from families living within a 15 mile radius.
- “Constantly Contacting” the parent is unlikely to get them excited – it’s the Rule of “5-85-2-9” – Five hours to create a newsletter – 85% of them go unopened – less than two minutes spent on those that are opened – attention span of parents is less than 9 seconds to get your message in!
- Parental engagement typically peaks during auctions, fund raisers and carnivals. Practically, is more of these the solution?
- With the explosive growth in mobile devices, there has been a rapid decline in web traffic as more users prefer to receive their content and on a mobile device. However, a vast majority of small schools continue to rely on the web as their main engine of ontent dissemination.
Isn’t it time for schools to start thinking about the future trends especially if they are catering to the next generation of parents?
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?
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?
Communication is often key for schools looking to increase student success and build better relationships with parents. Though most schools feel that they can address all their communications needs only by creating and updating a website, many have found that solely relying on websites leaves much to be desired. Here’s why:
- Websites are static. Across the nation, extreme budget cuts are forcing school administrators, teachers, and officials to make tough decisions about issues such as cutting programs, reducing salaries, and expanding class sizes. Not only can most schools not afford to create a professionally-designed website, but the whole issue of parent-school communication often gets pushed to the back burner. Websites’ static content and hard-to-navigate pages make it both difficult and burdensome for parents and students to find the information they need, on time.
- Parents are busy. This generation of parents is said to be the busiest one yet, and schools need to make sure that they can stay in contact with these parents who are constantly on the go. When schools need a quick way to send information to parents, they don’t usually rely on their websites to get the word out- and for good reason. Now that everyone is busy, schools need to make sure that all parents-whether they’re working two jobs or one, traveling or commuting-have easy access to the information they need.
- Smartphones usage is increasing. More and more people are using their smartphones and smartphone apps to accomplish daily tasks. According to Business Insider, web use conducted on mobile devices as opposed to on computers has been climbing steadily since 2009, and shows no sign of stopping any time soon. It’s evident that schools trying to modernize and consolidate their communications systems shouldn’t ignore the prospect of mobile solutions.
What do you think? Is it smarter for schools to focus on communicating with smartphone-based parents? Are school websites destined to be a thing of the past?Let us know in the comments!
Overhearing my conversation with a friend, my wide-eyed bundle of energy
asked me “Mom, can you juggle? Can you show me how? Do you want me to get you some balls?” My conversation with my friend had actually been about how we busy parents constantly “juggle” everyday tasks. But to my daughter, I probably do seem like a circus performer trying to stay on top of everyday tasks, a busy schedule, and the activities and happenings in her school.
Like most responsible parents, I want to be an integral part of my child’s school life. I try my best not to overlook e-mails or misplace one of the many papers from my child’s school, which are filled with valuable information, reminders about activities, upcoming events, parent-teacher meetings, parent-child activities, etc. These School->Parent emails and papers I receive are very important for me. They allow me to understand my child’s life in school and help my child’s teacher in developing a happy and successful child. Yet, with my busy life, I often misplace papers and forget to complete critical school tasks that are requested from us parents.
I have always envisioned a secure, comprehensive, online platform
for schools which would contain all the tools to facilitate School-Teacher->Parent interaction and would allow for seamless communication. It would be a place where parents can login and access information received from schools whenever they want to, without having to worry about losing e-mails or misplacing paper.
We imagined the possibilities, discussed our common parental needs, and ended up
with the creation of SchoolCues.com.
Now, I have one less task to juggle.
Rekha Yenamandra, School Parent