The back-to-school season can be a crazy time for schools and families.
There’s a lot to get done in a short amount of time as students and parents adjust to new routines, new classrooms, new teachers, and new expectations.
School leadership faces the challenge of effectively communicating with families as they get school supplies, complete paperwork, and make plans for the start of school and for the year.
Here are a few online strategies and best practices that can help ease the stressful transition from summer routines to school day routines. It may be a little extra work at first, but once implemented these strategies will make the back-to-school process easier, more efficient, and more productive.
1. Set up a ‘go-to’ web page
Sometimes called landing pages or portals, ‘go-to’ webpages provide families with a one-stop shop of information to help returning to school easy.
The page could include (but of course is not limited to):
- School supply lists/book lists;
- Policies, handbooks, and forms;
- Key dates & upcoming events;
- Links to information, apps, & other sites & pages families will need to access;
- Important contact information;
- Answers to frequently asked questions.
Anticipate what your families will need, what they will be looking for, and any questions they could have. Keep the page as clear and organized as possible, linking to other pages and websites as necessary.
Most website platforms and content management systems make it easy for schools to set this up on their own, easily and efficiently, and to update it on the fly as new things come up.
Give the page a name that will be easy to remember, and incorporate that name it into the link/URL.
Examples of potential web addresses are:
Email the link to families and also include the link on your home page.
Make sure your main office and your staff are aware of the page so they can submit content to post. They can also use the page as a source of information for themselves and as they get calls and emails from families, who can be re-directed to the page. Ask staff for feedback so if there’s information that people are asking for that is not on the page, it can be added or made prominent.
Once it’s been created for the start of one year, parents will be looking for it the next year.
2. Maintain an updated, online calendar
Families like to know what’s coming up. Many parents sit down together and plan out their week and month to determine what needs to be done, and when, and who’s picking up which child on each day and from each activity.
Make it easy for families by providing a dynamic calendar that makes it easy to sort, filter, and find events. Make it easy on your staff by reducing the number of calls, questions and confusions.
An online school calendar is a wonderful tool for schools and families. Most website platforms and content management systems include an easily updatable and customizable calendar. Some schools use another tool, like Google Calendar, that can be pulled into the website.
Families can sign up for calendar feeds (e.g. ‘Days Off,’ ‘School Events,’ ‘Admissions Events,’ ‘Alumni Events,’ ‘Parent Events’) to pull events into their personal calendars on their phones and computers.
At the beginning of the year, add all of the events that you can, and add additional events as they are scheduled throughout the year. You can also make corrections and changes (a significant benefit over static PDF calendars).
Be sure to post events in such a way that eliminates confusion and minimizes question. For example, don’t just post “Assembly.” Post “Junior PSAT Assembly” and, within the event listing, include what will be discussed, the location and contact person, and anticipate any questions. For example:
“Junior PSAT Assembly, 7:45 AM -8:30 PM, School Theater
The College Counseling Office will share important details on how to prepare for the PSAT. Juniors should report to homeroom for attendance at 7:40 AM before proceeding to the theater with their class. Contact Mr. John T. Counselor at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.”
Doing this effectively takes a meaningful commitment – making sure that all events get on the calendar and that the calendar gets updated when events change or more information becomes available. The result will be one comprehensive calendar that people will go to for important information.
Your parents will thank you, and your staff will thank you. Eventually. Ok, maybe they won’t, but they will certainly appreciate it, whether they say so or not, and it will benefit your school in a variety of ways.
3. Offer online payments
Making school payments, making ANY type of payments, is one of life’s pain points.
The more that schools can eliminate the strain and paperwork of payments from the back-to-school equation, the better off families, staff, and the school will be.
By utilizing an online payment system like Bursari, you can simplify the lives of your families, not just for the start of school but throughout the year.
By using the right payment processing system, you can provide a great and secure user experience and empower parents to make payments from anywhere at any time.
The convenience and peace of mind offered by Bursari becomes even more important during the busiest times, particularly during the back-to-school season.
For more details on how schools can leverage online payments, click here to read “5 Ways Online Payments Can Make Parents, Teachers and Staff Happier.”
The link for online payments can be included on your go-to page and on your calendar, making it even easier for families.
Already Back to School? It’s Not Too Late!
While many schools may have already begun their academic school year, these back-to-school strategies can be implemented at any time. Which means they’ll be in place for the start of the next school year.
Take an important step toward implementing one of these strategies.