This is an interesting and timely question coming from several schools who have reached out to us over the past few weeks. Over 80% of schools prominently display their school calendar and school events on their websites and the information is available for the general public. In addition to providing existing parents an easy way to find out what’s happening in the school on a daily basis, school calendars are also used for marketing to prospective parents. The timing of the question is especially
relevant with all the attention given to school communications and parental engagement.
If a school is a private enterprise, should the general public be privy to school calendar information including daily school activities and events? Calendars help drive parental engagement, however, how much school information is too much to disclose to the outside world, especially if it pertains to the child’s school? Should the privacy of the child and the classrom be considered when displaying current school information on website calendars?
WHAT WOULD YOU DO? We would love to hear from you!
– Dr. S, SchoolCues
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.
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!