Schools and kura regularly communicate with families and whānau throughout the year, whether via email, phone call, newsletter or the quick conversation in the morning before school.
With schools closed and learning happening remotely, this regular contact with whānau will be more important than ever. Families are being asked to support students in different ways and perhaps in new, unfamiliar environments, and schools will be the primary source of information and guidance.
Netsafe have gathered some resources to support schools as they reach out to families and whānau including information about popular websites, things to watch out for, tips for supporting students and also guidance around how schools can best preserve the home-school relationship in these challenging time.
Key things to share with families and whānau
Review the processes school has in place to support online safety, digital citizenship and wellbeing during the period of remote learning and share these with families and whānau. What steps has the school taken to mitigate any risk or challenge that can happen in an online space or when using devices? What can parents do if something doesn’t go as planned? What has the school got in place to support?
Digital devices and online platforms are designed to encourage communication and sometimes there can be an expectation that teachers are on-call 24/7. Make sure there is clarity around when staff will be available and how they can be contacted. Stick to normal communication channels such as school email or platforms already being used to communicate with parents, for example Seesaw.
Discuss with parents what they can expect from school around the use of digital devices and online safety.
What apps and platforms will be used? What does the school or kura need from families and whānau? What level of engagement will be required during remote learning?
Regardless of the level of planning and preparation by school or engagement by parents, challenges can arise. Make sure parents understand the steps they can take if things don’t go as planned and how the school can support. Who can they connect with? Which external agencies can help? How can the school do?
Share student expectations when learning occurs remotely. This might include re-sharing the school’s existing use agreements or co-constructing new ones with students, making explicit links to school values and key competencies.
For some parents, the online space will seem like the Wild West and they will need some support and advice. Pick a few key resources or tools that will help them better understand the apps and platforms the school is choosing to use for learning. Direct them to websites where they can seek out clear, relevant advice without overwhelming them.
Being a Netsafe School and displaying the electronic badge on websites and on communications helps to let parents and families know that the school is proactively supporting students to develop the attitudes, skills, knowledge and values they need to make safe choices online. Becoming a Netsafe School is easy and free. Hop on to the Netsafe Schools website, create an account and complete an online self-review.