School websites are designed to be user-friendly to all visitors. However, one particular group of website users visit the site more than the others – and that’s parents. This is because the School website helps them keep track of their children’s school life and activities. How can you make a school site more friendly and useful for parents? You can start by incorporating features that parents love in your school website design.
The school calendar is one of the first things parents look at when they visit the school website, so it’s only natural to give this widget a prominent place in the school website design. However, a school has a lot of clubs, classes, and organizations. Integrating their schedules in the general calendar can be a messy job.
Parents may only want to see activities that concern their children. To make it easy for them to use and navigate the calendar, you can create customizable calendars where parents can choose to view or not view certain categories like academics, athletics, or test calendars.
As the name indicates, a Class Page displays the activities and accomplishments of a specific class. It’s the proper venue for posting homework assignments, sharing photos of the class and its activities, and recognizing the success of students in the class.
With ongoing maintenance and consistent updates, this page can be transformed into a virtual extension of the classroom. Parents can simply visit their kids’ class pages if they want to see what the students have been up to during the day, if they have homework or upcoming tests, and if they’re reviewing the right class materials. The page is not only useful for reinforcing school lessons at home, but it can also greatly help students who have missed classes and don’t want to get left behind.
Personal or Teacher Pages
Parents are well aware of the integral role teachers play in their children’s education. As such, many of them want to engage, collaborate, and cooperate with teachers so that they can provide a better learning environment for their kids at home. Teacher pages feature a teacher’s or staff member’s short bio, photos, and schedule. These pages can help both teachers and parents interact with each other and set up meetings.
As old school as it may seem, newsletters still play an important part in uniting the entire school community. Parents look to these weekly or monthly publications to be reminded of non-urgent events such as parent-school meetings, activities like proms and field trips, and upcoming exams. Some schools still print their newsletters, but many more offer theirs in electronic form. Make sure it’s easy for parents to sign up for your school’s newsletters by featuring a subscription form on your homepage.
News and Alerts
Urgent news, such as class cancellations due to inclement weather, are best disseminated using media that parents can see immediately. For this, you can employ an alert that pops up on the school website, text messages and voicemails, and social media postings.
Some of these new distribution channels are not directly found on the school website. However, the school administration can use the school CMS to set up and send these alerts in conjunction with news popups on the website.
Filling out documents and forms is an indispensable part of being a student or the parent of one. Parents have to deal with a lot of paperwork from admissions to graduation, and often, students play the role of a liaison between the school and the parent. Going back and forth between school and home can be an inefficient and insecure way of exchanging important documents. In addition, there’s always the possibility that the student will lose the paper or forget to forward it to the parent or school when needed.
Customizable forms eliminate these risks and ensure that the concerned person can access, complete, and submit an online form in just a short time. Parents can receive an alert that they need to submit a consent form for field trips, for example, and simply submit the form through the school website.
Donations and Stores
Many parents are perfectly willing to take part in school donation and fundraising drives. A lot of them even look forward to purchasing memorabilia and exclusive items from the school.
However, many parents find it challenging to drop by the school every now and then to participate in these activities and sales. The school can offer solutions to encourage parent participation in such activities by featuring donation and store pages on their school website. These allow the parents to regularly contribute to and support the school even if they can’t personally visit the campus. Through these features, parents can also buy yearbooks, manage their kids’ lunch funds, or even pay fees without taking leave from work or driving to the school.
Parents are not the only ones who will benefit from this feature; the school can also use the donation and store features to run multiple fundraisers, issue refunds, and track contributions.
Apps are not necessarily a part of the school website, but there are specific parent-school communication apps that are designed to work in conjunction with the school website. A personalized parent interaction app may feature an interactive, actionable calendar where parents can plan events, volunteer for school activities, or be reminded of parent-teacher meetings. The calendar in the app can be synced with the school website calendar so that parents can easily customize the events they want to see and be reminded of.
Aside from the interactive calendar, the app should have features that promote interaction between the parent and the school. Examples of such features are a parent meeting scheduler, automated reminders for the activities parents signed up for, as well as a secure, two-way messenger where parents can communicate with their children’s teachers.
Today’s parents want to become more involved in their children’s education and development. By incorporating these features into to your school website design, you’re making it much easier for them to do just that.
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