Ready for the students – CHECK. Ready for the parents – HUH?
With school in session staff and teachers are preparing a deluge of communications to deliver to parents for student success. In a perfect world, parents will carefully sift through all the information, take notes, make calendar entries, and plan Post-It® note reminders to stay on top of their students’ participation needs.
In the real world, though, parents might lose paperwork (or their children don’t give it to them in the first place) and never read it, or read it and promptly forget details as they get lost in their own daily chaos of busy.
Finding creative ways to communicate with parents requires a good strategy that uses multiple touch points and considers the diversity of the people being reached. Factors to consider when deciding on an effective communications strategy include message type, urgency, environmental considerations and the demographics of the adults you are trying to reach.
Outside of permanent signs, like safety or traffic control signs, there are generally three categories of parent communications: culture, standard notices and urgent notices. While the methods of delivery are as varied as the imagination, each of them may be approached from multiple directions and fit into an overall communications plan.
Does your school say, “WELCOME! We want you and we want you to succeed!” loud and clear? Welcoming students and parents goes a long way to fostering student success. There are many ways this can be accomplished from your exterior signs to your interior décor, there are endless possibilities to lead, inform and inspire. So, how do you communicate your school’s culture?
Simple vinyl lettering with positive messages to inspire growth on a wall can create the right atmosphere, like this library wall.
Going even further, one elementary school created a campus wide theme to make an overarching change for a tremendous impact. Lake Canyon Elementary School wanted to launch a new initiative to inspire students and encourage campus wide collaboration — among classes but also grade levels. They created a house system, into which all the children were grouped, and a supportive and competitive environment was created, with planned recognition and celebrations of success. The new system was revealed to students, staff and parents at once, and was received with overwhelming enthusiasm.
FASTSIGNS of Elk Grove, CA, created the theme design, which was used for inspirational hanging vinyl banners, flag banners, posters and t-shirts. The design can be extended to any new effort. The results of this whole-campus re-charge were dramatic.
"Implementation of the House System at Lake Canyon Elementary School has resulted in an increase in students attaining their overall engagement goals on their personalized learning plans. In addition, suspension and truancy rates have decreased. Lake Canyon administration and staff know that research indicates high levels of student engagement correlate to an increase in academic growth and achievement," wrote Lake Canyon Elementary School Principal Hayes.
Standard notices include flyers, posters and outdoor signs like the school marquee announcing upcoming events, holidays, etc. Outdoor marquees work well for temporary or changing messages, and can be a manual letter board style or a programmed digital sign. FASTSIGNS® of Greenville, NC created a custom solution for the unique challenge that The Oakwood School had.
The school consulted with FASTSIGNS on possibilities for a highly visible but somewhat unattractive fence hiding a dumpster. It was located along the drive-up area where parents dropped off and picked up their children every day.
After discussing the school’s goals and different solutions, a plan was devised that utilized the existing fence as a base for a fun, attractive and noticeable communications board to reach parents every morning. It incorporates the fun and playful spirit of the school, promotes awareness of the “Oakwood Oases Farm” where students have a garden, and it has a large chalkboard for temporary messages written in colored chalks.
This fence may not have been considered a communication opportunity before, but then transformed into a creative, custom sign for Oakwood School. What features on your school campus are potential canvases for announcements?
Although digital communications are also used for regular notices and reference information, using social media for connecting with parents can be a more engaging communication tool. This can be used for more urgent notices, like a sudden school closing or live updates of events like spring field day activities.
In Burnsville, MN, social media storyteller and founder of SocialSchool4EDU, Andrea Gribble, helps schools broadcast their messages to parents in their school communities who like to connect with social media. She created window graphics that greet all visitors with each school’s social media connections as shown in the photo above of window vinyl by FASTSIGNS of Burnsville, MN. Adding one channel at a time makes social media approachable for everyone.
No matter how you choose to communicate with your students’ parents, create a strategy that utilizes multiple touch points to reach your diverse parent population.