I am lucky that I get to see both side of the educational world when it comes to working with parents. As an educator, I get to see the perspective of teachers and administrators and how hard they work in the best interest of their students. As a parent of two school-aged children, I get to also experience the parent side of things. As I reflect on this topic, I am drawn to reflect on the differences between my communication methods and those of my parents when I was a child. The notion of school-home communication now is different than it was just a few decades ago. Changes in our world since I was a child have changed the landscape of education and communication.
Here are 5 ways that today's parents are different from our parent’s generation:
1. We are more connected than ever, but harder to get a hold of.
We all have multiple phone numbers, email addresses, and social media accounts. We are constantly connected to the Internet via any one of our many devices. However, getting a hold of us can be a challenge. We can’t always drop what we are doing to take a call from the school. In our multi-tasking world, calls get missed, emails get buried, and letters home get lost in the pile that sits on the counter.
2. Texting and social media is becoming the preferred method of communication.
Forbes reports that over 205 billion emails are sent every day, or over 29 for every man, woman, and child on Earth. Texting and social media messages are seen as having more urgency than email. Up and coming parents prefer this method to traditional emailing. Schools have found that texting and social media messages are the best ways to communicate with parents, more so than emails.
3. Parents are more on the go than ever.
Today’s parents don’t live in the same world as their own parents. More and more households have two working parents. Moms and dads share responsibilities of taking their kids to soccer practice, music lessons, and dance classes. Furthermore, these activities are no longer just down the street, but across town. We are constantly on the move and going from one location to another, so the best way to reach us is our mobile device.
4. Multimedia goes a long way.
A picture is worth a thousand words. While we all appreciate written reports and information about our children, parents who are on the go, do better with pictures and videos. Posting these in a safe a secure portal will allow parents who can’t get to the school too often to see, hear, and experience what their children are doing. Posting daily or weekly updates give parents a unique view of their child’s classroom and learning environment.
5. Apps are king.
Today’s parents like all their child’s school information in one place. Apps provide a fantastic portal for condensing information. When parents are able to receive all school related information in one place, it makes it easier for them to keep track of everything they need to do for their child's education. School apps should include calendars, sign up lists, volunteer lists, and important updates.
As I reflect on these 5 ways communication has changed in the education space, I hope you will join me in working towards finding new ways to communicate and engage today's parents at your school.