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So, you’ve probably experienced it a time or two…you’re standing in line somewhere, waiting for service and a store clerk doesn’t even look up. Or, you’re wandering around some grocery, looking for the ketchup aisle..and no one bothers to ask if you need help.

It’s not intentional…let’s face it, life is busy, work is busy, and sometimes we humans don’t take the time to acknowledge or reach out to each other. 

Schools are no different. People get busy, days can be stressful. But if reaching out and partnering with families is built on relationships, those little interactions that we have with families, when they walk into out buildings or pull up in the school drop off line, are priceless. They are all chances to reach out and welcome our families not just to our school, but into the learning process. 

This year, we have a fresh start…a “do over” of sorts…when it comes to welcoming our families. For a year solid, we have kept our doors figuratively, and in many cases literally, closed to parents and caregivers.  

As we open them back up, let’s really think about what we need to do to improve our welcoming processes.  

It’s important. Your school signs, your smilies, your friendly greetings, they form first impressions for parents and send a strong message about how your school communicates. 

Here are a few quick suggestions for you to consider:

  • Make sure you have clear, welcoming signage in all the home languages of your students.   
  • Make sure the front office staff understands the crucial role they play in greeting and welcoming families and provide them training to feel comfortable in that role.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable, friendly waiting space for parents. 
  • Make sure you have processes that welcome new families to your school. 
  • Identify informal opportunities for interactions with parents and create processes and trainings to make the most of these opportunities. 
  • Make sure student work, signs, and displays reflect the diversity of families in your school.  

The way you welcome families is all part of your school’s communication practices. If you’re interested in improving the way you reach out, welcome, and communicate with families, let me know. I’d love to share my experiences in family engagement and communication with you or your team.  Visit my website, download my free playbook or sign up for your free consultation

Patricia Weinzapfel

Author, Educator, Journalist & K12 Communications Expert

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