We understand the impact and difference it makes to a child's progress when their parents are involved in the educational journey. It seems inevitable that schools spend a big portion of time engaging parents and keeping home-school communication lines open, but not everything has an impact.
Sometimes, we organise e-safety meetings with only 3 parents in attendance from the whole school - schedules of working parents often mean that finding a time which works for both the teacher and parent to meet is difficult. Newsletters might often get lost in bags, or on buses and verbal messages can be forgotten easily. On the other end of the scale, there are parents that you can communicate with everyday, who are more flexible.
Technology. Online systems can make it easier to ensure everyone receives the same message. Teachers have the power to send messages in real-time so that parents can read and reply at a time which suits them, and vice-versa. It's essential that we manage the expectations for both the parent and the teacher.
1) Anytime Access Anywhere
Pros: Being able to access messages and updates from school anytime is very appealing for teachers and parents as nothing gets missed or lost in translation. Communicating in real-time has a wealth of benefits as it helps the parent feel 'connected' to their child's school life. Being device agnostic, with a native app, also means that Kinteract can be accessed from any smartphone or tablet as well as laptops and computers - making it accessible to families with busy schedules or to those who do not have a computer and WiFi at home.
School solutions: Very clear expectations from school when introducing a new system is vital. Have a very clear idea of how you want to use the elements of parental engagement. Schools need to be firmly in control. In Kinteract, for example, you can choose whether to allow parental commenting and posting and could make it a "read-only" type of system this way. Alternatively, you could allow them to comment and post but to only alert the teacher if they are specifically tagged by the parent.
2) Instant Language Translation
Pros: In the Kinteract platform, when a teacher posts an observation, parents and students are able to read it on their device and can have the post translated into a number of languages. This tool makes internal messages clearer and more accessible than the usual parent-teacher conference. It works both ways too, so if the parent creates a post in their native language, the teacher is able to translate posts into English to keep the lines of communication open.
School solutions: Make sure parents understand how to translate posts, as well as setting up the Kinteract platform in their native language.
3) Everyone Knows the Next Steps in Learning
Pros: Allowing parents and students to see recent assessments means that everyone can review the strengths and next steps for every student. It means that multiple teachers are also all feeding into the journey. Parents can see the observations which led to the teacher judgement of grades too and that justification with the evidence necessary. Assessments can be made as often as is needed so for some subjects they might want to add weekly results - such as spelling tests or grading of homework. For other subjects, or at primary level, there may be fewer assessments once a term or even once a year - these could be outcomes of tests, or could simply be based on the culmination of a term of work and evidence, both on the platform and in books and in class work.
School solutions: Ensure you have clearly explained to parents what all of the assessment criteria mean and ensure that they understand that this will not only include information from the platform, but will be carefully thought-out and measured alongside work completed in class. You can also change settings for the whole school in Kinteract to hide assessments from students and/or parents. This can help you to ensure teachers can make as many assessments as they like, without worrying about possible parental conversations following mini-tests made in class.
4) Broad and Balanced Curriculum
Pros: By using a platform such as Kinteract, you can share not just observations and comments relating to the curriculum, but also every achievement past the curriculum. You may wish to tag information about a child being polite or kind, or simply for being confident to speak in class these moments are not always highlighted within the day-to-day assessment and tracking, yet they are often the most important to the parent and to the child.
School solutions: Expectations are really important here. Ensure that parents understand that they can add to the learning journey any time - this is the portable learning journey after all and will travel with them as they move schools or to any other Kinteract-platform school.