One school has great parent communication, others terrible. Why is that?

I had coffee with a fellow CBE parent the other day. She has children in Grade 2 and Grade 5. Mine are in Grade 4 and 6. They are at four different schools.

We had vastly different experiences when it came to communication from school.

This parent complained that she never got to see her kids’ work. She didn’t know what they were doing day to day and had no idea what their reading and writing was like, aside from what she made them work on at home. She never got to see math work sheets or a journal.

My son, on the other hand, brings weekly math worksheets home. I have to sign and return them. Every Friday, his journal comes home for me (or my husband) to write a response. His journal talks about his week and what he is learning. His teacher writes a blog post, sometimes daily, but usually three times per week. She lets me know about important info, like library day, homework, and what they’ve been working on. I know what questions to ask him and what sharing we should be doing to enrich his learning.

I see less of this at my daughter’s school, but it’s still there. Math and science items for signatures are monthly, not weekly. And the students take turns students writing a class blog in French, so we can see what they are doing in class each day. (Even if our kids have to translate for us.)  It’s great communication.

Interesting to note, at one school, the blog is principal-driven and done on the CBE system. The other teacher is doing it on her own, so she’s using a free, web-based product.

For many schools, the monthly school newsletter, in PDF form and buried deep on the school website, is the tool used to communicate with parents. My friend and I agreed, these are a total waste of time. The newsletter is often more about fundraising, school council and activities than learning.  It’s static, not timely and there’s no avenue for response. That simply doesn’t cut it. (Content on the website would be better, at least it’s not buried. )

My friend and her kids are at a big disadvantage. How can she be part of learning when she’s so disconnected from it? Studies show, parent involvement is the biggest factor in our children’s success. All CBE schools need to involve parents in learning in a consistent, meaningful way. Why can some schools be so good at this and other’s so bad?