At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child's success is the positive involvement of parents.
—Jane D. Hull
Research shows that one of the best ways to help students achieve is through parent engagement and regular communication. Many schools serve diverse student populations, which means that some parents may not understand all the school communication that is only offered in English. Parents greatly appreciate when newsletters, emails, and text messages are sent in the home language. This way all parents have the opportunity to support their children at home and participate in school events. Thankfully, many free web tools and apps make communicating with parents in multiple languages quick and manageable. Below is a list of recommended tools and apps along with time‑saving tips.
To get started with any of the tools listed below you will need a spreadsheet that lists your students’ names, the parents’ names, the parents’ email addresses, and other relevant information needed. Many schools have programs that will let teachers download this information or send home a form for parents to complete. In most cases, the tool will let you create a class quickly by uploading the spreadsheet. In some cases, the spreadsheet may need to be converted into a CSV file. To convert the file simply choose Save As or Download in the spreadsheet program and choose CSV as the format. Once your class is created, invite parents to join the free web tool by sending home the printed letters provided by the tool. Many of the tools also allow you to send parent invites via email or text message. Once parents join, you can send one message to all parents quickly and parents are able to translate the message into the language of their choice.
Parent Communication Web Tools & Apps
Seesaw is a web tool and iOS and Android app for creating student digital portfolios with various feedback options. Students upload pictures, create videos, or record audio to add context to their posted images or work. Teachers can quickly and safely communicate with parents in over 50 different languages.
Class Dojo is a web tool and iOS and Android app that provides a safe platform for teachers to instantly share photos, videos, and announcements to all or individual parents. Messages can be translated into 30+ languages. Find other helpful tools, such as a random student name generator, a timer, a noise meter, a student group generator, and class music.
Remind is a web tool and iOS and Android app where teachers can send text messages with links, images, and attachments to anyone who subscribes. Translate messages into more than 70 languages.
Class Tag is a web tool and iOS and Android app that offers a variety of tools to communicate with parents via text messages or the phone. Translate messages into more than 50 languages.
Bloomz is a web tool and iOS and Android app that allows teachers to send messages translated into over 80 languages via text message or through the app. Other features include student portfolios, a class calendar, and parent volunteer sign‑up.
Emails in Multiple Languages
Form Mule is my favorite way to send parent emails. This is a free add-on for Google Sheets that helps teachers quickly send a personalized email in English and another language to each parent. Teachers create an email template and include the headings from a spreadsheet column to personalize that email. Create columns with the parents’ names, student names, grades, or comments and the email will automatically include the information provided in the cells associated with that parent’s email. To translate the email into multiple languages, add the language code listed here in the field labeled “Lang.” For example, to translate the email into Spanish, add “es” to the “Lang” field (Lang: es). To discover how Form Mule works click here.
Google Slides, Google Docs, Buncee, Canva, Wakelet, and Smore are free web tools with professionally designed templates to help you quickly create and send a parent newsletter. In this post I share free templates for you to copy and edit as you need. To translate the newsletter in multiple languages you will need to use a translation tool. The two most popular free translation tools are Google Translate and Microsoft Translator. To help parents learn about Microsoft Translator you can print and send this letter in over 50 languages.
What are your tips for engaging parents throughout the school year?
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