Top 9 school-home communication platforms

By Emma Castleberry
Jul 9, 2024 7:49:31 AM

Tools for parent engagement

The world of parent communication tools is vast and, even for the most seasoned professional, can feel a little overwhelming. The decision of which school communication platform to use is more important than ever, and it’s certainly no time for trial and error. Onboarding an entire community of students, teachers, staff, and parents, even with the simplest, most streamlined platform, can be a chore for school leaders.

When you decide to introduce a communication tool to your school, you want to be sure it’s the right one. Here’s what you need to know about the top school communication tools and how to decide which one is right  for your school.

The need for streamlining school communication

If you’re operating without a platform for parent-teacher communication, or working with a tool that isn’t reliable or functional, then you’re likely fielding your fair share of complaints about it from parents and staff. Communication between teachers and families needs to be efficient and easy. Keeping these lines open and making it easier for families to connect with their child’s school improves educational outcomes for students.  And it better be used efficiently by your staff.

There are engagement performance indicators you can move in the right direction if you begin thinking about applying data-driven decision-making to your school communications. We all know the positive impact of engagement on student performance, so isn't it time to think about getting more out of your school communications?

Avoid scattered school communications

One of the recurring complaints parents have is that they are often bombarded with messages – some that don’t apply to them – and often require learning multiple systems to stay in touch. No one wants six different applications on their phone or a library of phone numbers in order to stay in touch with their kid’s school.

Your staff too can be challenged by wrestling with multiple platforms. Creating and delivering both general and urgent messages can cause important information to fall through the cracks. A simple, comprehensive school-home communication tool can make schools more efficient, and make you look professional and organized.

If you choose the right tool and wield it effectively, parents and staff alike will appreciate it and be impressed – earning their loyalty and further building your school community.

Furthermore, in the Getting it Right article published by EdTech, author Karen Schwartz emphasizes that responsive mass communication is vital to school safety. Schools need to have a direct and fast way to communicate with families in the event of an emergency. Choosing the right school communication platform is not only about safety, however. It’s about convenience for your stakeholders and creating a more comprehensive, connected school community.

Top 9 tools for parent communication

Yes, 9 (nine) and not 10. No top-10 round number here. These nine school communication platforms are what I found to be the ones pulling the weight when it comes to engaging school communities. 

Comprehensive district/school-home communications

  1. SchoolNow – SchoolNow is a contemporary, new platform for school-to-home communications. It creates a very personalized experience for parents and simplifies publishing by enabling users to create a message once and publish to every channel. The school feed keeps a continuous stream of messages in front of parents with a friendly interface.
  2. FinalSite – FinalSite is a strong choice for website design and an effective content management system, and also contains tools like an email marketing suite to support school-home communications.
  3. Apptegy – Apptegy is another solid choice but with a major drawback: every channel (each individual social channel, emails, texts) requires the creation of separate messages.
  4. ParentSquare – ParentSquare has a strong notifications system, allowing for urgent updates to families, and also has broad functionality, including a platform for sharing grades.
  5. SchoolMessenger – SchoolMessenger drops the ball with a slightly weaker notification system than some others on this list, but it has a solid content management system and excellent data integration.

Classroom-focused communication tools

These tools are still centralized around the task of school-home communication, but there is a great focus on each specific classroom and less broad applications for an entire school or district. The following tools could be used in conjunction with one of the tools above.

  1. Classtag – A Google-friendly platform, Classtag streamlines mass communication from the teacher to parents with individualized or group messages, announcements, and media like pictures and videos.
  2. SchoolStatus – SchoolStatus is a slick tool that really shines in parent-teacher communications and data analytics. In addition to one-to-one and mass messaging, SchoolStatus provides detailed insights about performance, attendance, and more with an easy-to-understand dashboard.
  3. Bloomz – Bloomz is a multi-use, classroom-focused school-home communication platform that includes a school feed, social media, auto-translations, and point-based real-time data student activity, like PBIS/SEL behavior reports.
  4. Remind – A popular tool that offers a chat feature for direct communication between parents and teachers, as well as a more general classroom communications hub and even a platform for virtual tutoring.

What to look for in a communication platform

So, which of these tools (or combination of these tools) is best for you? Your school is a unique, special community, and it’s important to prioritize a professional approach to engaging parents and others.

  1. Parent-focused messaging
    Above all, you want the tool you choose to be responsively designed to parent communication preferences. You want to personalize the school experience for your families. The best school communications platform will be one that has been designed with the needs and wants of your parents in mind: what channels they use regularly, what information they want most easily, and how they want to engage with your school.

  2. Publishing ease
    You want to make it simple for those staff members responsible for creating and managing messages. Managing multiple platforms is a hassle, so look for a tool with unified publishing across all channels (text, web, mobile, social).

  3. Metrics
    The most effective platform for your school’s needs will offer easy-to-digest metrics for monitoring engagement, so you know how well the tool is working.

  4. Accessibility and privacy
    The right school communications platform will prioritize ADA-compliance and student privacy to keep your school safe and ensure equity.

Take your time when making this decision. Most of the products on this list offer a free tour or trial to allow you to familiarize yourself with the platform before making a decision. Do your basic research on school communications, get input from your users, and find the best school communication platform for your needs.

Topics: Communication School Districts

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