In this lesson, we will be talking about how to improve parent communication, but let us start by talking about why. Apathy is one of the biggest reasons why parents leave your school. Your parents need to be engaged. Parent engagement is incredibly critical for the outcomes of students, but it’s also incredibly essential for keeping your retention rates higher. So, you want to make sure that you’re using all the different communication methods that are at your disposal.
In addition to that, you want to make sure your communication methods and behaviours match the expectations your parents have. Why is that so important? If you consider that the average school director is about 49 years old, and the average parent in your school is 28 years old. Every year, school directors are getting older and older, whereas the parents, they stay the same age. And especially within the last ten years, if you consider the drastic changes in technology around communication, every year, schools are finding it harder and harder to keep up with the expectations that their new parents have about how they want conversation.
So what you see in a lot of schools are too many methods for communicating information from the school. Also, communication incorporates gathering information from the parents, so it’s a two-way process. The way that schools are engaging parents today, whether it be a teacher that stuffs a sticky note in a backpack or a school that’s sending a weekly email, with everything that’s going on in the school, to every parent. In reality, this means the newsletter that incorporates everything for the school is about 90% irrelevant for most of the parents. Effectively, schools are training parents to ignore them today.
So, what we want to do is make sure that we are catering to the communication expectations of parents so that most importantly, they open up the messages that you send them. We also want to talk about the content that’s in this communication. Too often, what we see at schools are long newsletters that, again, incorporate everything that’s going on in the school for every child. That information isn’t necessarily all that exciting. Although it’s essential, it’s not necessarily the most engaging.
What parents want to see, obviously they want to know what’s going on with their child, with their children. They love the information about what’s happening in the classroom. In addition to that, you can engage parents, around parent education programs, instead of using your newsletters for just a long list of events, and facts, and reminders, and announcements, if you are utilizing the other types of communication tools that can handle reminders about events. Useful calendar apps, and different kinds of shorter message systems, then you can focus your newsletters on more engaging content, things that a parent might share with their friends. You should think about the content of your newsletters being share-worthy or being funny, or being passionate, or sharing your enthusiasm. You know, make it educational. Make it utility-driven. Along with the methods of communication, you want to be thinking about the types of communication you’re sending.
In addition to that, you want to be inviting parents to engage with that communication. So, with those newsletters, or blog posts, or Instagram posts, tweets, text messages, you always want to be inviting parents to give their feedback or to engage a conversation about it. The more you can engage parents in the discussion, the more they’re involved in the school. The more parents are going to be developing a relationship with you, and that can have an incredible impact on retention rates. Parents that respect you and see you as the wise teachers, educators, they are entrusting their children’s education with, if parents get an opportunity to learn more about what you’re doing and voice their opinions, then you have a deeper relationship with that parent. Parents are much less likely to want to move their children away from something about which they know and feel good. Improving parent communication is something you can do, and it can have incredible impacts on retention. It’s a combination of using the right tools and sending the right messages.