Apr 10, 2017

Supporting the Home-School Connection Online

Keeping parents and families engaged and informed is a key component of school success. In today’s busy mobile world, your school website and LMS play a big part in maintaining the home-school connection. How well are they doing their job?

School administrators and teachers are often shocked to find that families are not aware of basic information about school schedules or how their children are doing in school. Sometimes, parents are missing information because they don’t know where to go to find it. Making the information they need the most easier to find and access can help more families stay involved with their children’s education.

Help, where do I find….?

The lunch menu. My child’s grades. Tonight’s homework. The basketball practice schedule. The PTA fundraiser date. There is a lot going on at your school, and it’s not easy for busy families to keep up.

The way you organize your school website and LMS can make a big difference in the way families engage with your school online. You want to make sure that parents can find answers to their questions quickly and efficiently. This is much easier if everything is part of one organized, centralized online space.

Unfortunately, that is not the case in many school districts today. Parents may go to the school website for basic information but have to log into a separate LMS to check their child’s grades or homework assignments. This is even harder if the district is not using a single LMS but instead allowing teachers to select an LMS of their choice. What happens to the parent with three children across middle school and high school? With a total of 18 or more teachers to keep up with, how do they remember which teacher posts information where?

School extracurricular activities are often hit or miss, too. The basic public information (the date of the school play, the game schedules for the sports teams, etc.) is usually on the school website. But most school websites do not accommodate the day-to-day communication that happens between team or club members and coaches or advisers. Announcements about practice schedules, auditions, fundraisers, permission forms, and other “members only” information may be sent home via email, handed to students in paper form, posted on the locker room wall or communicated in parent meetings. But these communication strategies do not help parents who missed out on the initial discussion or misplaced the information. They need a centralized place to go to track everything they need to know.

Building Parent Engagement with a Centralized Online Environment

If parents can’t find what they need quickly, they may call or email the school directly. But for every one who does, there are many parents who just give up and rely on their kids to tell them what’s going on. And we all know how well that works out!

The easiest way to keep families involved is to keep the information they need the most in a centralized, organized location. Your public school website should act as a portal to all of the information that students and families need; don’t make them remember other websites and logins to get to what they want. If you are using a separate LMS, it should be easy to access right from the main school website. Extracurricular information—for both members and the wider community—should be easy to access, too. This was the philosophy we used to build eChalk. eChalk brings your website, LMS and private spaces for teams and groups together in one easy application.

So don’t make busy families hunt for what they need and guess what information lives where. To build the home-school connection, keep it all in one place.