In Part Two of our series on improving parental involvement in education, we examine how to use your school website to improve communication between school and home. In this article, communicating refers to effective school-to-home and home-to-school communications regarding school programs/policies and a child’s progress.
School-to-home communication occurs via a number of means. School-wide information such as newsletters or information regarding special events is more likely to be distributed digitally through either a school website or via email. Depending on the type, classroom-specific information may either be distributed digitally (such as a blog update reflecting on a class activity), or via paper (such as permission forms or student diaries). Situations with a greater need for two-way communication, such as a parent-teacher interview, tend to occur face-to-face.
A general observation regarding information delivery is that the less feedback that is required from the parent results in an increased likelihood for the information to be made available via a school website. But is this the best way to utilise your school website? Should school websites, and by extension parent portals, be thought of differently as a channel to encourage two-way communication?
We believe so and will explore two ways to improve your school website to encourage two-way communication.
Information About School Management
Most school websites provide information relating to school management to current and prospective parents, including:
- School policies
- Programs and activities on offer
- Information about internet safety, bullying, cyber-bullying
However, most school websites do little to provide opportunities for parents to contribute to the work of school management. This may leave the impression that your school does not expect parental involvement and that the scope of the role of the parent is limited to the emotional and social aspects of their child’s development.
You can encourage home-school cooperation through your school website through the use of call to action forms that request feedback. These forms should be placed on all website pages containing school policy and management information.
Traditionally a child’s progress in school is discussed with parents via parent-teacher interviews, occurring once or twice a year. Whilst these interviews are crucial for parents to learn more about their child’s academic, emotional and social development, they are scheduled too infrequently for meaningful two-way communication between home and school. They also disadvantage those parents who are unable to attend parent-teacher interviews due to work commitments.
In our last article, we touched on the use of parent portals for parents to share photos, videos and thoughts on their child’s learning. The use of a parent portal can be further extended to provide a facility for teachers to provide more regular feedback on a child’s progress. Importantly, parent portals can also provide the facility for parents to comment on such feedback.
If parent portals are in use by your school, consider utilising this technology to provide more regular feedback to parents about their child’s progress.
How will improved communication between home and school benefit your child?
Improved communication between school and home increases parents’ understanding of school programs and policies. Better monitoring of a child’s progress at school will elicit better responses from parents to any issues that may arise.
A better parental awareness of school management and their child’s progress will have a positive flow-on on effect to their child. Children tend to model adult behaviours, and when their parents are actively involved in their schooling, children learn the importance of education and try to emulate those behaviours from their parents. Improved communication between parents and children can foster higher self-esteem and confidence.
Improving communication between school and home encourages parents to be more actively involved in their child’s education. Call to action forms on your school’s website encourages parents to be more involved in school policy. Providing regular feedback on a child’s progress via parent portals is another vital way to open two-way communication.
Little Munchkin Digital can tailor a solution for your school for parents to provide feedback on school management in a safe and secure way. Find out more here.
We also build safe and secure customised parent portals that can:
- Allow parents to share photos, videos and reflections with teachers
- Allow parents to provide comments on teacher feedback
- Allow teachers to provide feedback on a child’s progress
Epstein JL, Sanders MG, Sheldon SB 2010. School, Family and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook For Action, 4th edn, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks California.