Friday, September 7, 2012

Give a Hoot about Parent Communication

Does your organization care about parent involvement or it is just another mandate that you fulfill? Schools are so focused on meeting governmental marks that they lose sight of what they are truly designed for, changing the world one kid at a time. How can schools change the world if they leave out their most important ally, the parent? The reality is that schools can't change the world until they start giving a hoot about parent involvement.

Some schools continue to view parent involvement in the 20th century: parent meetings, PTA organizations and getting things signed and returned. This effort, while still very important in schools today, fails to meet most parents where they are now, in the 21st century.

Schools must make the change and here are some ways to bring your parent communication into the 21st century.


Most every parent has a Facebook account, and they look at it daily. Every school must have a Facebook account and use it to share links, videos and make announcements on a daily basis to educate parents on current issues that affect their child and his learning. Facebook encourages dialogue with the school and other parents. Parents can also message you or have discussions through the comment feature and this is a great way to gauge what issues parents need more information on. 


Twitter is a another great way to send short messages less than 140 characters along with pictures, links and videos to parents. Twitter accounts can also be linked to your Facebook account so that you can reach more people in multiple ways. Some schools create hash tags so they can have Twitter chats with parents to communicate with multiple parents at once. At first, Twitter can be intimidating to beginner users because of the language used, so training may be recommended on the lingo that your campus would use.


This tool is amazing, and it brings all of your social media together and allows you to send one message over multiple accounts. You can also schedule your messages days, weeks or months in advance so that you dont forget to send that very important message to your parents at a time when the message is most pertinent to them.


Having a YouTube account makes it easy for you to create videos and share videos through your Twitter & Facebook accounts as well as email. Parents can learn campus processes and procedures,  see exactly what's happening in your school as well as learn new information through a short video, Video is a powerful communication tool to show parents what learning looks like in the 21st century.


Websites are not new, but many schools do not get maximum exposure from websites because they are overloaded with content or not maintained regularly. Schools must create easy-to-navigate websites with current, concise and parent friendly information. Websites must be simple in organization and content so parents will not be overwhelmed by information overload or by difficulty in finding information that they need.

Push your Information

If you want parents to get important information, it is important that you push information to them. RSS feeds, call out systems and text messaging systems for pushing grades to parents on a regular basis builds transparency and trust between the school and home, which translates into a desire to work with parents.

The days of sending papers home and expecting every student to get the information home, signed and returned is unrealistic, to say the least. Schools must step out, commit to over-communicating in a systematic fashion so that they minimize the chance that the message is not received by parents.

Schools that are most successful in parent involvement believe that they must do whatever it takes to involve parents in the education of their child. These schools also are successful in student achievement because their parents are active partners in supporting their children in reaching academic goals. In short, giving a hoot about parent involvement translates into student success.


  1. Good bit, Pal....

    One thing that I'd add is that a school should survey its parent population to see what kinds of communication patterns it values the most.

    The simple truth is that most principals don't have the time to manage all of these different communication channels, so getting to know which channels are most important to THEIR stakeholders helps them to be more efficient and effective with their limited time.

    Here's a school communication survey that I whipped up for one of my books. Might be useful to you somehow:

    Rock on,

    1. Thanks for the survey. I like the feedback idea. Communication can get overwhelming and I think this survey will help me reduce the number of tools that we use and make our communication more focused thereby making it more meaningful and powerful.

      Thanks again.

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