For modern educators and school communicators, keeping parents in the know on their children’s important school-related information looks much different than it used to. Long gone are the days of sending students home with letters, updates, and permission slips stuck into disorganized homework folders for parents to sift through. Today, like most things, teacher-parent communications have gone overwhelmingly digital — and there’s a bit of a learning curve, as you might expect.

The shift to online and paperless communications has created a ton of efficiencies for most organizations, including educational institutions. But it isn’t always easy to get parents on board and adapted to doing things digitally. So what’s an already overworked K12 teacher to do? Here are some of our top tips for getting parents more engaged when it comes to staying digitally connected with their kids’ schools.

1. Go Paperless

If you’re not already, it’s time to try going paperless with your communications. Parents report that email is the best way to reach them, preferring this method to physical forms and other modes of outreach. This is good news for teachers and school communicators since email makes it a lot easier to reach out and to track and manage engagement.   

Utilize email for all parent communications, not just check-ins and quick questions. There are plenty of additional tools to help you use email to full capacity, including those that help with gathering permissions and payments for field trips, requesting classroom supplies, and easily scheduling one-on-one chats to discuss student progress. 

2. Send Weekly Roundups

Most parents might prefer email, but that doesn’t mean they’re checking their inboxes as often as you’d like them to. For those parents who aren’t quite connected enough, a weekly roundup of the key information you sent out over the past five days provides a concise breakdown of what they need to know. A weekly roundup is a great way to reiterate your original messages, keep everyone on the same page, and ensure you aren’t emailing too often.

Use a marketing automation tool to make your roundups consistent visually, and to create the layout to your liking. You can use formatting and design elements to call out things that need to be addressed right away and provide links to more information where necessary. You’ll be able to cover a lot of ground without overwhelming parents and provide them with information in a more digestible way. 

3. Go Social

Having a social media strategy is extremely important for K12 schools. Seventy-five percent of U.S. parents are on social media, making it a useful place to go when you need to connect. Running a school’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram page gives you a great platform for sharing news, events, and other need-to-know information with parents. It’s well in line with parents’ preferences to have news “conveniently pushed” to them instead of having to seek it themselves.

The great thing about social media is that it gives you the ability to offer information to parents often without bombarding their inboxes. To protect student privacy, you can create an invite-only group where parents can congregate to receive and share information, just reference the page regularly in your email outreach so that parents know it’s a resource. 

4. Get Feedback

The best way to know what works for parents when it comes to digital interactions is to ask them directly. Businesses use customer surveys to make improvements, and the same method can be applied to K12 schools. Send out a survey asking parents what the best way to stay connected with them is and what you can do to make sure they see your messages. Surveys are also a great way to get feedback on classroom initiatives, school events, and fundraisers. 

5. Have Parents Opt-In

Asking parents to opt-in to your emails from the get-go creates accountability and gives them an opportunity to tell you how to contact them best. Another significant benefit of opt-ins is that they ensure no parents (or students) fall through the gaps due to a lack of digital access.   

Opt-ins turn parents into digital engagement partners instead of just recipients. By consenting to paperless communications and telling you where to send them, parents take ownership of their role in staying connected with their child’s school. Ideally, it inspires them to take a more conscious approach to engagement.

Making Digital Work

Just like with students, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to working with parents. That’s as true for digital engagement as it for all other facets of school-parent relationships. Offering a few different channels for online communication increases your probability of making a connection and allows you to see what works.

Pay attention to where parents are most engaged and what kinds of messages are making the biggest impact. Is short and sweet the way to go? Are most parents ignoring daily emails but responding to your weekly roundups? The more consistent you are, the more you’ll be able to gather from your methods. 

If you’re a school communicator looking for an easy-to-use email platform, sign up for our K12 Edition VIP list. Once this feature is released, you’ll be the first to know!