Great Communication: The Key to Successful School-Family Partnerships

BY KORI MACKALL, Director of Communications, The Piedmont School


We often hear that “communication is key” to most things in life. This statement, cliché or not, could not be truer in helping foster and facilitate a happy and healthy school-family partnership. While each school has a specific plan for communication, it is often important to survey parents to find out which mode of communication is best for them.

Here at The Piedmont School, we ask our parents at the beginning of each year to fill out important forms for the front office that include contact information, emergency contact information, health records, etc. In this paperwork, we ask them to let us know what is the best mode of communication for them—phone call, e-mail, text, hard copy, etc. From there we give our teachers access to this “best mode” information. We also incorporate all modes of communication into our school communication plan each year from paper copies to social media and website, to mass texting, to written notes in student agendas.

In the booming technology age, many of us are attached to our mobile devices. We have instantaneous information at our fingertips at all times. But this can be both a positive and a negative regarding school and family communication. While in theory, technology can make communication easier, schools also have to realize that not every family is as attached to the smartphone world, as we tend to assume. With this in mind, accommodating the need for good old paper/phone call/face-to-face communication is still completely necessary. For schools, it is important for us to over-communicate. We must entertain every medium of communication to make sure our parents receive the information they need. At The Piedmont School, this includes weekly communication folders with paper copies of information, mass texting, keeping our websites up-to-date, having social media pages, and writing notes in student agendas, if necessary. We also try to prioritize having face-to-face or phone communication when we realize miscommunication may be happening.

For parents, it is important to make sure to stay in contact with your child’s school. It is often easy, as the hustle and bustle of each school year picks up, to feel disconnected from what is going on day-to-day in your child’s school life. Make sure to let the school and your child’s teachers know what the best mode of communication is for you. If you are a smartphone user, make sure you connect to all electronic modes of communication your child’s school offers. If you are not a smartphone user, make sure that you check your child’s backpack or agendas every day if possible for important information from the school. Ask for the best way to communicate with your child’s teacher(s). Make sure to keep a copy of the school calendar somewhere you can glance at it each day. To help your household stay feeling connected to the day-to-day events, try to follow the school website or any classroom blogs; place priority on checking weekly communication folders; talk to other parents; and, of course, be sure to ask your child what all is happening at school (a great way to build strong communication skills for your child!).

Communication is a two-way street, and for it to flow smoothly, we all have to be willing to make sure we are doing our part. Parents should never hesitate to call their child’s school or teachers if there is confusion or something is unclear. Schools should always continue to look for ways to improve communication with their children’s families and go the extra mile to use all modes of communication that are feasible. When communication between schools and families is fluid, the relationship and bond between them will also become closer.