Parents are at the heart of every school community. They are the ones that volunteer their time, refer other families to your school, and entrust their child's education and growth to your care.
Keeping the parent community happy and informed is a priority for all schools and colleges, so how can your school engage and empower parents?
Communication is key
No one likes being left in the dark; therefore, the key to forming a great relationship is good communication.
When communicating with parents, especially online, it is important to make it two-way and personal.
People don't want to feel like just another number in a database, and there's nothing worse than receiving generic communication. Where possible, address parents by their name, include other personal information and always allow them to respond.
Access to information
In the modern online era, quick access to information and streamlined services is the 'norm' and as such, we have adapted to expect things instantaneously.
In order to keep parents happy they should have quick, easy access to resources and self-service tools when and as they need it, through a dedicated online channel or portal where they have the autonomy to access up-to-date notices, events, and information.
Already have a Parent Portal? Ensure your parents know how to access it, and continuously encourage them to make the most of it.
Catering for all types of families
Communicating to the right people is just as important as the quality of communication itself.
With complex or split families, ensuring the correct person is contacted can be an underlying stress for staff. It can damage the school's relationship with a family if communication channels are incorrect.
That is why understanding exactly who the primary contacts are in complex families and ensuring this information is available to those who need it is crucial.
Supporting your gender diverse community by ensuring people's preferred genders are recorded in databases and that the correct pronouns (he, she, they) are used in communication is also essential to promote an inclusive school environment.
Studies have shown that home-based involvement can positively impact academic outcomes. With access to visual analytics, dynamic data, and academic progress reports, parents can be kept in the loop and promote conversation and collaboration at home.
Making this type of information readily available will also provide parents with confidence that the school is aware of academic trends and is transparent with information.
Also consider adopting a process of continuous reporting where parents have constant insight into assessment, homework, and teacher feedback, increasing student accountability and inviting parents into their child's academic journey.
Get parents involved
Including parents in decision-making conversations, such as new school policies, allows your school to access and leverage parent's expertise and perspectives and ensures that the school's actions and decisions represent the wider school community and is respectful of all members and cultures.
Many parents would also love the chance to contribute to the school and help out, so make sure you provide parents with opportunities to coordinate and participate in school-based activities and events.
Ultimately, the main factors in creating stronger school-family connections should be this; don't make parents hunt for information, show that you care by providing them with opportunities to contribute and always encourage an inclusive and collaborative environment.