Of course, running a school is different from running a retail shop. Your clients are not just one-time customers but parents who care deeply about knowing their kids are at the perfect school for them and teachers who love their jobs and know they make a difference.
So, your school needs to maintain regular communication. Constantly. Continually. Sending monthly or weekly newsletters to your students’ families is a wonderful way to maintain this communication. Let’s see how we can use this to your advantage.
Why a Newsletter?
When it comes to communicating with parents and students, school newsletters are very versatile. You can email them directly or send home a hard copy. A classroom newsletter could include details about topics covered in class, newly added vocabulary terms, and kudus for great learning and acts of kindness.
A school newsletter could share information about school parties, event reminders, and parenting ideas.
Digital newsletters offer a more dynamic experience than printed newsletters. This form of communication can be sent directly to parents’ email or cell phones. Some schools even bring in experts to train one of their staff members to be a PR coordinator to manage communication with families and save them money and/or time.
Four Tips to Remember
Before we delve deeper into what to include in the newsletter, let’s highlight four essential rules.
#1 Decide on the Main Focus
Make a decision about what to include in your parent newsletters. For example,
You can post about athletic successes, upcoming events, new lunch menus, and anything else that interests parents.
It can also be a weekly newsletter communication, picking up content from the school magazine, talking to staff, etc.
You can even target potential students and parents by announcing open days in the newsletter, highlighting academic achievements, etc.
Decide on a focus. You can’t put everything in a newsletter, so it’s best to keep it simple.
#2 Don’t Overlook the Design
The newsletter should not only contain excellent information but also be visually appealing. Keep the design simple, too. Be sure to incorporate the school’s logo and colors to maintain consistency with your visual brand.
Also, find out if most of your audience receives the newsletter via cell phone or desktop computer, and adjust the design accordingly. Since you communicate in different ways to your families, one of those being via your social media channels, your newsletter can enhance that form of communication by making sure your social media pages and links are highly visible and clickable in the digital newsletter form.
#3 Keep Promotions to a Minimum
Remember the primary purpose: sending a weekly or monthly newsletter is a quick and easy way to inform parents about the latest school events and provide value to students, parents, and teachers. It’s not a platform to pitch products or services.
Your audience would rather click on an engaging, informative topic than a button that says “Try our latest products.”
Limit the number of promotional messages in the newsletter to about 10%—perhaps with a banner in the middle or at the end. Too much advertising could be perceived as spam and distracting.
4# Use Media Effectively
Sitting down and thinking about what to include in the school newsletter may seem scary. In the weeks leading up to your next newsletter, establish procedures for obtaining media to make the task seem less intimidating. Use your smartphone or camera to capture highlights on a field trip or of students in the classroom.
Invite students to participate by encouraging them to submit a report or their own digital photos for the newsletter. This is an easy way to collect images and stories and give your kids an audience for their work. Of course, be sure to get the necessary permissions before sharing students’ artwork and pictures with anyone outside the classroom.
What Can Make Parents Read the Newsletter?
Let’s talk more about what elements to incorporate in the newsletter to attract readers.
1. School-Wide Calendar
A clear, structured calendar with a list of future events can improve the newsletter. Informing parents in advance of upcoming contests, performances, school festivals, and charity events can encourage participation, lift spirits, and create a sense of belonging among students, their parents, and your staff.
Be sure to put the following events on calendars in school newsletters:
- Athletics or other special events
- Field trips
- Classroom schedule changes
- Charity or fundraising events
- Important dates, registration deadlines, and fees
2. Safety Announcements & Guidelines
We know student, teacher, and staff safety is a top priority. Share announcements and your detailed, standardized school and classroom protocols and drills for natural events such as earthquakes, fires, etc. Since these events are usually unexpected, information is critical to avoid panic.
Illnesses and infections can spread quickly as children are in close proximity to each other in the classroom. You should list clear, practical health protocols that parents and students can implement to protect themselves.
3. Contact Details
No school or classroom newsletter is complete without sharing key contact information with your families. You can communicate a variety of information, but be certain to include phone numbers, the school’s address, and emails.
Teachers can also keep families and parents informed by including how to reach them in the newsletter. It would also be beneficial to communicate the school’s office hours and teachers’ class times so parents and families can arrange visits if needed.
If parents have questions or concerns, they should be able to call the school or their child’s classroom. A classroom contact list builds trust and helps families and teachers work together to solve classroom problems and improve the quality of education.
4. Classroom Activities
In the newsletter, teachers should include a summary of classroom activities for the next week or month. They should list subjects or topics covered in class, project deadlines, student work, and quiz due dates. In general, anything that counts as a student activity will matter to parents and families who are eager to support their children and should be included in the newsletter.
This is also a great way to communicate and encourage positive student behavior and learning. Include shout-outs and kudos for jobs well done.
5. Policy Updates
Including school policies in a newsletter home is especially beneficial for parents and teachers. You’ll be surprised how many phone calls or discussions you can save yourself by providing the latest school policies throughout the year.
This is particularly important at the beginning of the school year, as many parents are new to the school and may not be fully aware of the rules. It’s a great way to send communicate a message about updates or changes in the dress code, the rules for being absent or tardy, and the times for picking up and dropping off their children.
6. Academic & Sporting Achievements
Highlighting student, school, and teacher successes in the newsletter is vital because it recognizes achievements and promotes the school’s image. You should report on student and teacher awards or the latest trophy in your sports team’s locker room. Remember to include pictures. Parents, students, and teachers will enjoy the public recognition and be proud to be associated with your school.
An Easy Way to Create a School Newsletter
Consistent communication is vital; your newsletters are essential to create positive opinions and branding. The content, the design, the logo, and the way you structure the newsletter say a lot about who you are.
So, how can we help? You can do what many schools do: hire a reliable website service provider to take care of everything from designing your school or district logo and/or website to hiring and training a communications coordinator who will get those great stories and successes and news onto the website, into the social media posts, and even out to your local media outlets.
You don’t need to look very far because we do just that at School Webmasters. Feel free to contact us—and let us do for you what we have done for hundreds of schools throughout the nation. Happy communicating!
Bonnie Leedy, CEO, School Webmasters, LLC.