Word-of-mouth referral is the most effective means of promotion. If a friend posts or tells you about a product, you are more likely to purchase that item. The case is no different with yeshiva and Jewish day school referrals.
In addition to creating strong school-family partnerships and strong academics, a range of communication practices can greatly improve parent satisfaction with the school experience. These strategies will also help to increase family retention and sustain a culture of belonging in schools.
Calendar Best Practices
- Ensure that all dates of any programs are on the main school calendar at the start of the school year (and not in close proximity to other age - or grade - targeted programming/sibling crossover programs).
- Create add-to-calendar links for each event so staff and parents (and grandparents) can add them directly to their personal calendars.
Timing of Events
- Schedule the start of events earlier in the day to best meet the needs of most working families (typically right after drop-off).
- Always include end times to events. For example: The Siddur Play will take place on __ from __ to __, followed by an enough which will conclude at __.
- Start events on time and end on time.
- Ask what kinds of accommodations may be needed for guests, including but not limited to closed captioning, front parking spots, sign-language interpreters and reserved seating.
- Livestream all of the big school events. This way, parents who travel for work or grandparents who live far away can feel a part of the events.
- Assign a member of your tech team (or an outside vendor) to administer and test the livestream.
- Livestream has a “watch again” feature, so families can click on the same link after the event to rewatch if they are busy at the time of the event.
Emails Prior to Events
- Send out an email reminder with details and all of the livestream and add-to-calendar information two to three weeks in advance of the program, as well as a similar and briefer email within 48 hours of the event.
- If there have been songs or skits that might not be themes that are fully inclusive, it might be time to retire those. For example, a Hebrew song referencing moms and dads may not feel comfortable for a single parent.
- For those with sight or hearing limitations, envision how they access or participate in the programming.
- If you have a program that requires volunteers, ask the grade/class parent/PTA representative to create a signup genius that is shared with parents at least two weeks prior to the program and communicated widely, as volunteer spots are often at a premium.
- Designate a staff or parent volunteer to help greet and direct any volunteers to reduce volunteer frustration.
- Send individual thank-you emails to volunteers, and potentially include a photo of them with their child, if they are volunteering in their child’s grade.
- Pre-draft a brief thank you email from teachers to families.
- Teachers can include the link to the “watch again” portion of the livestream as well as a link to photos, if applicable.
- Ideally, the email will come directly from teachers to their classes, so families can have an email exchange with them.
These communication tips are only the beginning -- and certainly require much work. These small details, however, can have a huge impact and enable parents to feel more appreciative of their experience with your school. The ways we communicate to our current families have both short and long term impacts on retention as well as on future enrollment.