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How to simplify communication with parents

Creating an accessible approach to your parent communication needn’t be complicated. There are simple steps schools can take to build parental trust through their communications.

Effective school-to-parent communication is essential for student success. It ensures that parents are informed about their child's academic progress, provides opportunities for collaboration between teachers and parents, and creates a supportive environment for students.

Traditional communication methods however can be time-consuming and lack efficiency. All too often parents are receiving a barrage of information from different directions. School trip letters, parents’ evening emails, text message reminders, the list can feel endless.

Using a variety of communication methods can reduce parent’s confidence in feeling fully informed while also creating a headache for school staff constantly juggling multiple systems and processes.

Creating an accessible approach to your parent communication needn’t be complicated. There are simple steps schools can take to build parental trust through their communications.

Identify the key communication requirements
The first step in improving any process is to review your current activity. Identify your key communication requirements, paying close attention to what information you currently send out and whether there is any additional messaging you would like to communicate.

Communication requirements may include:

  • School update newsletters
  • Class-specific information
  • Promoting upcoming events
  • Student-specific information
  • Curriculum / workload information.

Ask yourself “is this communication benefiting parents?” when reviewing your communication practices.

Review the systems and delivery methods used
Simplifying your communication practices not only involves looking at what information you are sharing, but how you choose to share it. Are your school reports printed and sent home with the pupils, sent by email, or shared through your school portal? Was the Sports Day itinerary shared on the school app?
It’s only when you think about all your parent communication as a whole that you realise how many different systems and processes that you are being juggled. Review the c communication methods currently in place within your school. Ask yourself “is this the best way to share this information to parents?”

Think like a parent
Put yourself in the shoes of your parents. How many different communication channels are in use? Are they able to easily communicate with the school/their child’s teacher? Simplifying the volume of communication along with the channels used will improve parent confidence and their overall experience. Similarly, it could simplify the internal processes and pressures felt from school staff.
We already know that there will be parents who communicate regularly and those who are harder to engage with so finding the most relevant communication channels is key for an open and honest strategy.

Make sure your communication is clear and concise
When communicating with parents, it's important to be clear and concise. Avoid using educational jargon or technical terms that parents may not understand. Instead, focus on providing parents with the information they need in a way that is easy to understand and actionable. Parental confidence and trust will grow when they feel that they have a greater understanding of the information that is being sent to them.

Be consistent
Communications may require different delivery methods, that fact is undeniable. Quite rightly, you wouldn’t send an end-of-term report by text message. But are you consistently using the same communication type to share information? For example, permission slips always being sent by email rather than a mix of email and paper copies.
Be consistent with the type of communication that you send out and the timing that it is sent. If a parent expects a weekly newsletter on a Friday, then strive to deliver this with consistency. Creating habits for school staff and parents can build trust and confidence.

Support parents with home learning
Find ways to educate parents in the learning process. It is sometimes too easy to forget that we are the education experts, and things we take for granted are completely unknown to them. We can do this by setting out expectations clearly and concisely, for students, but also for parents themselves. They need to know that it is perfectly normal for grades to go up and down - if they didn’t then we aren’t challenging our students appropriately. For most parents it will be many years since they have studied Geography for example, so providing a clear structure, along with resources will mean that they don’t have to be an expert in all the subjects their child is studying. Let them know how to support their children, what good study habits are for example.

Gather feedback from parents
Schools should regularly gather feedback from parents about their communication efforts. This feedback can help schools to identify areas where they can improve. Lead by example by including your parent community in shaping your communication efforts.

Use a unified communication platform
One of the best ways to simplify communication is to use a single platform for all your school-to-parent communication. This could be a school website, a mobile app, or a dedicated communication platform like Firefly’s Parent Portal.
Using a unified platform makes it easier for parents to stay informed and get involved. They can access all the information they need in one place, including school news, upcoming events, their child's grades and attendance, and important updates from teachers and administrators.

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