By Carly Robinson and Todd Rogers
COVID-19 has increased the need for schools to communicate with families while reducing opportunities for face-to-face interactions. As a result, families have received an onslaught of emails, text messages and detailed websites. Many of these are dense. Too often, the best families can do is quickly skim — if they read these at all.
While more information needs to be shared in writing than ever before, more communication is not necessarily better. The goal is not to just send information out, but for recipients to understand the information they receive. We all struggle with long emails that arrive in our inboxes while we are racing around doing a million other things. Or with multiple emails from the same sender that accumulate, unread. When we finally do open a message to figure out what we need to know, we get distracted before reaching the main point. So how can schools rise above the seemingly never-ending barrage of information to ensure successful outreach to families?
Schools’ messages reach more families when they are mindful of parents’ limited time and attention.
Our research examines the psychology of effective school-to-parent communication. This topic is more important than ever, as parents are the most critical partners for helping students succeed in our fast changing, COVID-responsive schools.