Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2018

ParentSquare

Versatile communication tool fosters parent engagement and 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: Enables multiple forms of communication and engagement throughout the entire school community.

Cons: It lacks student voice and may lead parents to take on tasks that should be the responsibility of the student.

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

ParentSquare's success is contingent upon active teacher and administrator involvement: cultivating useful communication with parents, adding events to the integrated school calendar, and sharing photos and files of student and school activities 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. Parents can participate in fundraisers, fill out forms (beta), and pay fees for supplies, field trips, and more using the secure Payments feature. Both parents and school personnel can benefit from increased paperless communication, saying good-bye to the days of forms and paperwork crumpled and buried at the bottom of students' backpacks.

Administrators will get a good deal of information from the site by using the administrator usage dashboard, where they can view how many users they have, see how many users are engaging on the site, and analyze the reach of emails, text messages, and the app. Administrators can measure efficacy 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 is a one-stop shop for school happenings, improving communication, organization, and engagement between home and the school community. There's no shortage of communication options -- from event notifications to photo and file downloads to fee payments 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 parent engagement and allows school personnel to ask for items, request volunteers, 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 to direct-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 parents and school personnel to connect with one another to foster partnerships and collaborative initiatives. It also gives administrators valuable data about how parents 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. Administrators should be vigilant about monitoring messages and communicate clear guidelines to avoid the likelihood of negative or excessive parent interaction. Teachers will want to encourage parents to set only the notifications they want to receive in order to avoid over-communication, which can lead to disengagement.

Because it lacks student voice and input, however, there's still room for ParentSquare to grow. Students need to learn skills that will foster a sense of responsibility, even from a young age. Building in a gradebook or an assignment system, or even a space where students could have a role in transmitting needed class information to their parents would be a welcome addition; this could bring students into the conversation and help foster student accountability while providing flexible, regular communication between schools, parents, and students.

Overall Rating

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

Parents are sure to stay in the loop with school happenings, and the many options for interaction will foster a smaller school feel. Adding more involvement of students would make it even better.

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

As a communication tool, teachers have a direct, convenient line of communication to parents, but it may rob students of some opportunities to develop responsibility and communication skills.

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

Intuitive site design, onboarding help, Google Translate support, and strong social media options provide the tools needed for successful interaction. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Lindsey U. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Excellent way to bridge the gap from school to home! Parents appreciate getting the inside look at what is going on in their student's classroom in forms of pictures, newsletters, reminders and private messaging capability.
ParentSquare makes parent/teacher communication incredibly seamless and efficient! It takes aways the need for running several copies off, sending them home with students and hoping they reach their intended target. ParentSquare helps me save time on administrative tasks and focus on doing what I love to do, teach! I am a huge fan!
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