One of the most significant shifts caused by schools moving to a virtual schooling model in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the necessity for parents and caregivers, such as grandparents and older siblings, to fill the shoes of a classroom teacher.
As a result, education companies now need to include parents and caregivers in their technical support, professional development, and implementation processes. Many have developed parent outreach for the first time, on the fly.
Here are a few tips out of the many new parent caregiver support structures my colleagues at Cognitive ToyBox and I have developed as we’ve been onboarding our fall customers.
- Provide information in multiple places. For example, don’t send just one email and expect that all caregivers will read it. Send multiple emails, post on your website or social media, and utilize a pop-up in your app to communicate the same message. Even if it seems redundant to you, caregivers will many times miss all but one point of contact.
- Information should be available in different formats. Some people like to read daily digests while others prefer to listen to podcasts or watch videos. Use various media and platforms to meet parents and caregivers “where they are.”
- Keep communication short and to the point. Multiple emails or messages, each with one action item, are easier to read and more effective than one long encyclopedic volume of information.
- Sequence your communication so users are receiving the information in the order in which it is the most helpful. We have effectively used timeline graphics that show users where users are in a process. That way, they see what they have accomplished as well as what to expect next. This also helps build morale.
- Provide teachers and schools with information such as a letter and/or video that they can send to their students, parents and caregivers to introduce your company and product. Users will react more positively and see value in learning something new when they understand the “why” behind what they are being asked to do. This isn’t a history of your company! Rather it is a short, concise description that illustrates “what’s in it for them.”
- Translate your information into multiple languages. Don’t rely on Google Translate for this work!
- Make sure teachers feel adequately prepared to support the parents and caregivers of their students. We have oftentimes delayed caregiver access to Cognitive ToyBox until after teachers have earned their training certifications and are comfortable navigating our products.
Tips for Connecting
The ed-tech team at the World Bank Group has compiled a helpful guide to distance learning during the coronavirus. Here are a few excerpts:
- Provide guidance on scheduling for home schooling
- Provide simple tips on how to structure student learning
- Provide means for caregivers to ask questions/seek guidance
- Caregivers need to know they are not alone
- Provide regular messages of support and encouragement
- It is important for caregivers to hear directly from leadership
- Encourage peer support
I would appreciate hearing your tips for supporting parents and caregivers.
Image courtesy of Cognitive ToyBox