In a time when many families are time-poor and have two working parents, Rotorua schools and early childhood centres are using every communication tool at their disposal to interact with their pupils' mums and dads.

While many educators say these additional tools, which include class blogs, apps, email, texts, social media and private websites, allow the school to reach more parents, face to face remains the preferred choice for communicating.

Otonga Rd Primary School principal Linda Woon said her school employed a range of methods to get messages to parents.

"We use every device we can to ensure we can reach as many parents as possible. We are seeing more families with two working parents who are time-poor so we can no longer rely on traditional communication methods schools used 10 or 20 years ago."


The school has an app, emails, texts and calls parents, as well as sending a paper copy of the school newsletter home with children.

"There are so many different means of communicating, why would we not use them all?"
Otonga Rd Primary School teacher Neil Carrington is one of the teachers using the Class Dojo app.

The app allows parents to log on and see updates from the teacher about what the class has been doing, including short videos and pictures. This shared content can be viewed by all the parents subscribed to that classroom's app. Each parent also has access to a private page specifically about their child's behaviour in class. Teachers can also have conversations with parents through the instant messaging tool.

Mr Carrington said the response from parents using the app had been quite cool.

"I teach Year 3 and 4 and I'm not getting as many parents picking up or dropping off their kids anymore. The Class Dojo app is a great way to bridge that gap and open up those communication lines again. I can message parents instantly and they can check to see what their children are doing during the day.

"It doesn't replace face to face communication but it is a positive tool we can use to reach out to busy parents."

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Western Heights High School principal Brent Griffin said the school Facebook page and texting parents was effective, but face to face communication was paramount.

"It is easy for parents to connect with the school when we communicate digitally because while they may not have a laptop or computer, most, if not all, will have a phone with data.

"That being said, we still see a large percentage of parents picking their children up and chatting with teachers. We maintain the most successful means of communicating is face to face."

Central Kids Kindergarten Owhata uses Story Park as a means of communicating with parents.

Story Park is a closed website that early childhood educators can use to record children's learning stories online and share privately with family.

Teacher Nicola Rowe said through the site the centre had seen improvements in building relationships with parents.

"It has been working very well. Parents still get a hard copy as well, this is just another way parents can view and track their child's progress."

Mother of four Kellyanne Fitzell said she recognised technology used by schools served a purpose for busy parents but she still preferred face to face communication.

"I have four children, three that are at kindy and school, so I am communicated with in a lot of different ways. For me the digital side of it is quite tricky and I don't really like it. Why would I want to read out what my child is doing when I can talk to the teacher about it first hand.

"I personally find it quite inconvenient but I wouldn't disparage educators from using different communication tools because I know it serves a purpose for some parents."