With back to school in full swing, it’s not just new students that aren’t sure where to go or what to do quite yet. You know what it’s like being new and not knowing what to do and worrying you’re not going to get it right.
Parents, too, need some help understanding critical components of the school day like student drop-off and pickup.
Prioritize Parent Engagement
Yes, you want parents to engage with your critical day-to-day processes, like how the car line dictates drop off, dismissals, and pick up. However, the benefits of parent engagement encompass so much more than that.
For instance, active engagement from the parents at your school offers positive benefits for students and parents alike. That could look like:
- Decreased disciplinary issues
- Improved academic performance
- Higher grades
- Better parent-teacher relationships
- Improved school environments & culture
- Lower rates of high school dropout
Working with families on how their kid(s) will get to and from school is one of the best gateways to increased parent engagement. Every kid needs to get to school somehow, so leveraging that need can build strong relationships and keep parents in the loop.
Ideas are one thing; execution is another. Let’s review a few tips that will help you prepare parents to understand and embrace the car line process.
Set up a transportation help desk that answers parents specific questions about their unique situation.
Remember, not everyone feels comfortable raising their hands to ask questions in front of a group. Think, for example, of co-parents who need to organize two different modes of transportation for their child or children. They might not feel comfortable posing questions that reflect the personal reality of their family in front of a large audience at an event like back-to-school orientation.
Establishing a space where parents can speak confidentially to someone one-on-one will also underscore that trust factor you’re trying to establish.
Whether it’s at the orientation or separate, we also recommend gathering key information from parents from the very start. The best way to do that?
Kick off the year with a questionnaire.
Think of this as a personal and confidential interview with the parents in your school. By circulating a questionnaire, you can confirm, in writing, critical information like:
- Default pick-up modes – How are their students getting home from school each day?
- Additional parents, guardians, or approved delegates – Who is allowed to pick up their student and are there any nuances to this like custody issues?
- Emergency contacts – What is the contact information for those that should be notified in the event of an emergency?
Provide multiple ways for families to access transportation information.
It should go without saying that transportation is not one-size-fits-all for students and their families. That’s why providing options for parents to access transportation information is critical.
We encourage you to provide help documents and pickup instructions to make the pickup process crystal clear. We’ve even seen schools create instruction videos demonstrating how their car line works.
Be sure to promote this information on your website, share at ‘meet the teacher’ events, or even have printed documentation ready to send home with report cards or other critical correspondence.
If you can’t manage a presentation or help desk, simply provide printed copies of the transportation process, which can be sent home with parents.
Emails are another easy touchpoint; that said, please don’t rely exclusively on electronic communication. We’ve found that some parents aren’t as responsive in reviewing their email inboxes.
Distribute school car line tags.
Car tags and corresponding student tags (or backpack tags) are a common resource schools leverage for their car line. These tags allow dismissal coordinators to quickly match up the student and their guardian before dismissing a student.
Car tags are great to distribute during a back-to-school night, and you can also do so by standard mail, email, or by sending the tags home with students directly.
Having printed car tags as a backup is great for when phones die or family members, perhaps grandparents, are technologically averse.
Ask families to adhere to your processes & deadlines.
You created this process for a reason!
One of the keys to successful change management and process adoption is consistency. Continue to reinforce your pickup process and promote it within your parent population.
Pro-tip: Set and stick to deadlines for parents to complete your preferred steps.
In addition, make it worth their while to do so by offering incentives for using your process and tech. Incentivizing engagement with a new process, especially one as critical as car line, can be a quick way to get people on board ASAP.
How can you incentivize your school’s car line process for parents? Easy!
One idea is to offer a VIP or Express Lane for those using your dismissal technology. This express lane can help reward the parents who are on board with the program while encouraging others to follow suit.
Or, you could offer a class prize. You can leverage class prizes for all sorts of things like filling out the questionnaire, setting up the parent app, or other components of getting parents on board.
The genius of this incentive involves the parent-student relationship. If their kids are excited about the app, it’s likely that their parents will embrace it, if for no other reason than to make their kid or kids happy.
This article is courtesy of Pikmykid, which helps you simplify dismissal, engage parents, and keep students safe on one easy-to-use platform, www.pikmykid.com.