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Pros: Enables different types of communication and coordinating among school communities.
Cons: Only offers whole-school sign-ups. Interface is a bit clunky. Duplicates functions of a school's LMS.
Bottom Line: A solid, comprehensive way to help schools streamline communication between school staff and families.
ParentSquare's success is contingent upon users' active involvement: cultivating useful communication with families, adding events to the integrated school calendar, posting information for students, and sharing photos and files of student and school activities. Engage stakeholders through interactive polls and allow them to RSVP for events or sign up to bring things to the classroom. Invite caregivers to participate in fundraisers, fill out forms, sign up for events, and pay fees for supplies, field trips, and more using the secure Payments feature. Keep in contact by messaging individual or groups of students -- using StudentSquare -- with reminders, links, or even personalized positive messages. Mold future communications at the administrative level based on the usage dashboard, where you can view how many users you have, see how many users are engaging on the site, and analyze the reach of emails, text messages, and the app. Also, reach caregivers who may not feel safe or be able to visit the school campus, and communicate with all in their preferred language.
Administrators should be vigilant about monitoring messages and communicate clear guidelines to avoid the likelihood of negative or excessive parent interaction. Additionally, school personnel should be mindful of information being shared using multiple methods of communication, since conflicting information, repetitive messages, or too many notifications may lead to disengagement.
ParentSquare is a one-stop shop for school happenings, improving communication, coordination, and engagement between home and the school community. Unlike some school-to-home communication platforms, it's based on school-wide adoption. There's no shortage of engagement options, which include event planning, photo and file downloads, health screenings, fee payments, sign-ups, volunteer hour tracking, and more. School administrators and teachers can post polls and use two-way messaging via the web, email, and text messages. Smart Alert users (at an additional cost) can send voice messages to parents, communicate urgent alerts, and have messages automatically translated. The administrator dashboard provides data on user engagement and allows school personnel to ask for items, request volunteers, fill out forms, collect payments, send secure documents, get RSVPs, or even fundraise.
Events are integrated into the school calendar, making it easy to view school happenings at a glance. Parents can even download photos from the site and post comments, if enabled; also, if schools choose, they can allow parents to upload photos into albums for others to view. Schools can choose to provide a directory of staff and families, allowing parents or guardians to directly message educators and administrators through the site. iOS and Android apps make ParentSquare mobile, and schools can enable other add-ons, including fund drives, archives, a registration app, volunteer hours, and an alumni database.
ParentSquare boasts many useful tools for fostering consistent, streamlined communication. The site prioritizes social interaction and community, encouraging reciprocal interaction between school personnel and families to foster partnerships and collaborative initiatives. It also gives administrators valuable data about how users are engaging with the content, so they can better achieve outreach and foster more productive, active school communities. The rich feature set offers a much-needed transformation away from traditional newsletters and inconsistent paper-based or even digital communication methods, providing more opportunities for engagement than pure messaging apps.
Since teachers can directly interact with students via the website or StudentSquare app, there's an opportunity to teach organization and communication skills that will foster a sense of responsibility, even from a young age. Even though ParentSquare isn't meant to be a complete learning management system (LMS), this platform does a great job of fostering student accountability while providing flexible, regular communication between school and home. Though the requirement for school-wide adoption, the lack of a free version, and the relatively dense interface might not work for some schools, it's a truly comprehensive platform.