Schools face a common challenge in today’s fast-paced world: effectively communicating their journey towards creating a positive and restorative school culture to parents and caregivers. It is no wonder that it is tricky to get the message through. Parents and carers are bombarded with WhatsApp group notifications, social media updates, email messages, newsletter items, and various school app notifications. And that’s just the communication from school life. Add sports clubs, work communication, family and social life, and you can see why it is hard to break through the noise.
So, how do you share the important stuff about building an empathetic, caring, restorative community? You use the most powerful influencers on the planet…their children.
Parents have a natural curiosity about their child’s school experience, and nothing sparks that curiosity more than when their children start mirroring the language used at school. One kindergarten teacher at a school we work with shared a funny encounter with a parent at the school gate. The conversation went something like this:
Teacher: “How is your daughter enjoying Kindy?”
Dad: “She’s great, but she is speaking differently. Yesterday, she said to me, ‘Please be patient Dad. I am speaking to Mum right now.'”
Out of the mouths of babes! When children begin to change the way they use language, parents take notice. This subtle shift in communication can be a powerful opportunity to break through the noise and effectively get the message out about the school’s efforts to foster a positive, restorative culture.
Language is a potent tool in shaping behaviour and culture, and children are incredibly perceptive in absorbing and reflecting the values and principles they encounter at school. When parents observe their kids using words and phrases like “Please be patient,” “I noticed you are frustrated”, or “Let’s work it out,” it serves as a living testament to the school’s commitment to nurturing empathy, understanding, and a restorative ethos.
These language changes capture parents’ attention and invite them to engage in conversations with their children about their school experiences.
Moreover, when parents witness these positive changes in their children’s behaviour, they become more inclined to support and align themselves with the school’s restorative ambitions. They see firsthand the tangible benefits of a restorative school culture, which transcends the classroom and spills over into their family life.
So, if you want to overcome the challenge of reaching parents in our information-saturated world, use the most powerful messenger … the young people in your care. When schools foster a restorative culture that reflects in the language and behaviour of students, parents take notice.