School Communication With A New Generation of Parents

28 Jun 2017

How To Appeal To The Communication Demands Of Today's Parents

School age children today that are in K-12 have parents from the Gen X and Millennial generations. Are you a Gen X or Millennial parent? If you are looking it up, the years vary and some of us may fall in between the two but what it comes down to is how parents in these generations communicate and expect to receive information from the public and private schools that their children attend.

School administrators and teachers today are dealing with a generation of parents that demand a new way of engaging and relaying important information. As a result, schools systems are in need of formulating new communication and outreach strategies to parents.

Many kids are being raised in homes that do not have traditional access to TV and they don't listen to public radio. A newspaper? What is that? If a kid can't swipe it on a screen then most of the time they are not looking at it, but either are their parents. So how do you evolve school communication to meet the needs of today's parent audience? We will be exploring different topics in today's post and future posts that we hope can help you formulate ideas to start bridging the gap.

What services are Families using In the home?

Many homes use television services that do not have a focus on local news, like Roku TV, Chromecast, Hulu, etc. Even services like Directv are limited in local updates so finding school closings can be difficult. And who listens to the radio? Many only listen to Pandora, Amazon Music and Spotify.

Today's parents are digital consumers.

It's not just children who spend a lot of time on tablets. Many Generation X and Millennials live and breathe by their smart phones and tablet devices. Not just because that is how communication has evolved and continues to evolve, but for the shear fact of ease-of-use and access to information. Many parents run busy work schedules and busy calendars packed to the hilt with work and family activities. So, if you can't read it on your phone or get an alert on your phone when you are on the run many times it gets accidentally pushed down the priority list. What does that mean for how your school should communicate information to the parents for important announcements and events? Some schools have implemented a proactive stance and are taking action to modernize school to parent communication. However, there is a large majority that are not quite there yet. Some may not consider updating their systems a priority and others are just confused on where to start and feel the task is to daunting to undertake.

School websites need to engage and Be user-friendly.

Ensuring your website is mobile responsive is extremely important. However, it should do more than just shrink to fit a screen size. You may have noticed that some "mobile responsive" sites resize, but when they do, it resizes the whole view screen just as if you were reading on a desktop. However, on a phone this means that you can't actually read the text because it is to small. Proper stacking of content ensures that the text and images can remain a readable size on a hand held device and that the reader is still able to use their finger to click on buttons and other items to get to other pages in the website that contain important information.

Logical placement of information and announcements.

As a parent, many times when I view a school website, I need to do a lot of clicking and exploring to find the information that I am looking for. Have a clear navigation and plan to limit the levels in which an individual needs to click through is a vital site planning strategy for parents to retrieve necessary information.

For instance, prominently display the following:

  • School Closings
  • Before and after care schedules and announcements for grade school children
  • Reminder notices for parent meetings
  • Access to forms for parents to complete for updating information, field trips, school policies.
  • Implementation of digital signatures is a growing demand.

There are many things to consider for how a school may want to use their website. But the key important factors are that the site should be visually engaging, easy to navigate for parents to find information, and should integrate into the larger picture of how the administration would like to utilize it as a tool in the office operations workflow process. That means that you are really putting your website to work!

In future posts, we will be continuing to explore best practices to enhance engagement and parent communication that can apply to both public and private school sectors.

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Vanessa Byrem-Tangy

Partner at Mosaic. As a certified inbound marketing specialist, I work with clients to devise and revise digital strategies to create positive growth for Nonprofits, foundations, issue-based initiatives, and service-based businesses.

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