Parent Communication 101

To fully understand parent communication — and build a strategy around your different types of members — you’ll be required to have a basic acceptance of “one size doesn’t fit all.”

You’re mistaken if you think a communication strategy will be perfect because, well, it just can’t.

The main goal of your parent communication strategy shouldn’t be perfection, but rather increased volume of messages received and opened versus a decreased amount of bounced, unopened or marked as spam.

You can hone your group’s efforts to ensure maximum engagement and participation by following these basic rules:

  1. Ask Parents Their Preferred Channels/Mediums (Email vs Print Newsletter, Texts vs Calls, In-House Meetings, etc.)
  2. Balance one-way (newsletters, emails, etc.) with two-way communication (meetings)
  3. Probe for the Right Frequency (How much is not enough? How much is “too much”?)
  4. Respect the School Breaks

When you’ve learned these foundational truths to your specific group and members, it’s wise to begin considering the design and layout of your communications. There are best-practices for all forms of communication (email, text, newsletter, etc.)

Parent Communication Best-Practices

  1. Frequency: For email, there should be no more than two (2) weekly with a total of eight (8) monthly. Text and in-person meetings should cover important items and event updates. These should never occur more than once or twice monthly. Your membership’s comfortability and participation should always determine frequency.
  2. Length & Word Count: Again, this varies depending on the medium, but you should always keep emails and newsletter to 300-500 words depending on the content.
  3. Content: The phrase “show me, don’t tell me” goes a long way in determining how to make a message resonate with your audience. You can’t deny we live in a media-heavy society, and people remember things they see twice as much as when they read.
  4. Send Dates & Time: The best days to send emails are Tuesday and Thursday, and the worst are Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. Why you ask? Mondays include all of the accumulated emails over the weekend, and Friday means everyone is checked out for the weekend ahead. Mornings and afternoons are better than mid-day, but you’ll want to experiment with dates and times to see what works best for your audience.
  5. Above The Fold (30-second elevator pitch): This concept eludes to the top of an email (the most important stuff) someone sees if they don’t scroll for more information or keep reading. Do your emails pass the blink test? If they didn’t have more than 30 seconds to see your email or newsletter, would they get the message you are trying to convey?

Still in doubt? Author Susan Graham-Clay explored “Communicating with Parents: Strategies for Teachers” and it’s rife with helpful tips for adapting your group’s parent communication strategy.