Review by Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2015

ParentSquare

Versatile communication tool fosters parent involvement

Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K-12
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Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: An entire school community can use this tool for communication and engagement.

Cons: Although it touts a one-stop communication tool, there is no online gradebook, which would be a great addition.

Bottom Line: A cool way to help schools streamline communication among administrators, teachers, and parents.

ParentSquare's success rides on active teacher involvement: posting edifying information for parents, adding events to the integrated school calendar, and sharing photos and files of student and school activity with parents. Teachers can also engage parents through interactive polls and allow them to RSVP for events or sign up to bring things to the classroom.

Administrators will get a good deal of information from the site by utilizing the administrator usage dashboard, where they can view how many users they have; what the reach of emails, text messages, and the app are; and how many users participated in posts and other things on the site. Administrators can measure engagement by looking at the percentage of emails that are read, how many text messages are received, and how many app users are notified. This information can be used to better mold communications throughout the year to boost parent involvement.

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ParentSquare aims to improve communication, organization, and engagement between parents and schools. Parents can access posts, events, photos, files, and a directory on the site. School administrators and teachers can post polls and use two-way messaging via the Web, email, and text messages. For a fee, users can send voice messages via text to parents. In the posts, administrators can see how many parents viewed the post, ask for items, request volunteers, get RSVPs, or even fundraise. Events are integrated right into the school calendar. Photos and files can be shared easily, and parents can even download photos from the site and post comments (if enabled); also, if schools choose, they can have parents upload photos into albums for others to view. The site also boasts a directory of staff and families (if it's enabled), and parents can direct-message educators and administrators through the site. There's also an iOS and Android app available for parents, and schools can enable other add-ons including fund drives, polls, archives, a registration app, volunteer hours, an alumni database, and smart voice alerts (which carry an additional cost). 

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The site boasts many useful tools for fostering consistent, on-time communication. The site prioritizes sociality and community, encouraging parents to connect with teachers and administrators and to be more more involved in and aware of school activities and student progress. The site also lets administrators see how many parents are engaging with the content, so they can better inform outreach and foster more productive, active school communities.

The rich feature set offers a much-needed update to traditional newsletters, conferences, and emails as well as a step up from pure messaging apps. There's still room for ParentSquare to grow, however, since it leaves students out of the equation. Building in a gradebook or an assignment system would be a welcome addition; this could bring students into the conversation and help foster flexible, regular communication among schools, parents, and students. As it is, this tool is likely a better fit for families of younger students without significant homework demands.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Though not aimed at students, ParentSquare loops in parents with messaging, volunteer sign-ups, polls, calendars, file-sharing, and posts. Visual design could use modernization, and more involvement of students would be a nice addition.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Parents can interact with teachers and administrators about students, getting a bird-eye's view onto each child's classroom and the school's activities. Administrators can look at usage data to see how many parents are engaged.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Help and support pages are useful, and translation provided by Google Translate helps non-native English-speaking families. Social media outlets provide support, too, but it would be more useful if it were integrated on the main site .


Common Sense Reviewer
Stephanie Trautman Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Sara B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Adams Elementary School
Santa Barbara, CA
Parent Square makes any communication between a school and the families convenient. The team at PS works hard to be cutting edge and helpful to all its users.

It is important that parents and families are connected and in the know about the happenings their student's classroom. It is also easy for teachers to communicate with families for brief notes or lengthy newsletters.

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