This blog post is part of our Guide to Family Communications series, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

It’s tough for working parents to stay in the loop about their child’s progress that day—or to even know whether their child shows up to school each day. Compounding the problem, evening work and activity schedules often conflict with parent-teacher conferences and other school events.

Even if school staff are able to reach parents and guardians, language barriers often mean that traditional forms of communication—like phone calls, in-person meetings, and letters home—may be inaccessible to families that don’t speak English.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

KiNVO’s automatic two-way language translation, pre-scheduling functions, and mass-sending capabilities open communications channels with families who have traditionally been left out of the conversation, all without adding time or stress to teachers’ busy days.

Brooklyn Community Schools director Ms. C. shares, “some parents at work can’t talk on their cell phones but texting works for them.” Her colleague Ms. H. agrees, finding KiNVO messaging more effective than phone calls when scheduling home visits: “Some parents don’t have cell phone plans with enough minutes to talk, but are able to text.”

Harlem elementary school teacher Ms. D. texts parents to keep them in the loop on behavior and homework—information she used to send home in student backpacks. “It’s great for those parents who are so busy they don’t have the time to go home and look through the folder,” she says.

Communicating with families, regardless of their chosen language, helps strengthen the bonds between educators and families, raise awareness of attendance issues before they become unmanageable, and can even lead to improved performance. Through KiNVO, users select the appropriate language(s) for each contact associated with a student, so every message is delivered in a readable language. When a parent writes back in their chosen language, the KiNVO automatically translates that back into English.

According to Ms. G., a high school teacher in the Bronx, the ability to send messages to parents and guardians in their language of choice led to “massive improvement” in student attendance—students who attended school one or two days a month were showing up multiple times per week.

“The ease of sending messages in languages other than English has been amazing,” says Bronx middle school teacher Ms. S. “I am able to write one message and reach all parents instead of using Google Translate and sending multiple renditions of a message.”

Putting it into practice

  • Send messages at a consistent time each evening so parents know when to expect them.
    • Pro tip: Use KiNVO’s scheduling feature to pre-plan and automate message delivery.
  • Set language preferences for every contact in a student’s account.
    • Pro tip: Clearly communicate to parents that the system will automatically translate the messages they send into English.

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