5 Strategies to Encourage Families to Complete School Forms
It’s no secret that educators have a lot on their plates; teachers across the country are balancing lesson plans, grading, interpreting data, managing behaviors, communicating with parents, keeping class fun, and so much more! In the midst of the chaos, days fly by, and Thanksgiving break is just around the corner! With so much to juggle, the importance of school forms can often fall between the cracks.
The Importance of School Forms
Every form that gets sent out holds significant importance, yet time after time teachers struggle to have them returned. If you are looking for ways to address this issue without adding much to educators’ plates, here are a few surefire strategies to increase the return rate on school forms.
1. Set Goals & Incentives
First and foremost, parents and families should know that completing forms is an integral priority to the school. One of the best ways to convey this message without being overbearing is to encourage participation through goal setting and incentives. This can be done at multiple levels, each adding a layer of motivation to students and families.
- Class-Wide Incentives
Educators can encourage participation at the class-wide level by setting a class goal for form completion and offering a reward in return. For example, if 100% of students bring back a signed field trip form, a class may receive a week without homework. Rewards can vary from simple incentives like school currency and treasure box, or they can be big celebrations like pajama day or Fun Friday.
Whatever the reward may be, adding an incentive will encourage students to ask their families to complete the forms. Be sure to track progress each day and make a huge deal out of celebrating the students who brought their forms back.
- School-Wide Incentives
School-Wide incentives are similar to the class-wide incentives listed above but are larger scale and are typically offered by administration rather than classroom teachers. School-wide incentives can be done by percentage; for example, if 90% of students bring back their photo-release forms, every class will receive a pizza party for lunch.
Alternatively, you could offer the reward to only students who bring their forms back, instilling an urgency in the situation. Another great option is to host grade level competitions, meaning only the grade that has the highest form completion will win the reward. Whichever format you choose, be sure to display updated results somewhere public and easily visible throughout. Make sure to announce the rankings during morning announcements as well!
- Incentives For Teachers
Administrators can encourage teachers to put in extra effort with their families by offering rewards. These rewards are not communicated with students, they are simply incentives to give teachers an extra push. For example, any teacher who has a 100% class form completion rate receives a jeans pass, an hour of comp time, or even a gift card. This will motivate educators to prioritize form completion and take that extra step of proactiveness.
2. Prioritize Communication
A simple, yet effective way to emphasize the importance of completing school forms is to prioritize the topic when communicating with parents. This should start right away, being a topic that is brought up at open-house or meet the teacher. Throughout the year, be sure to remind parents at each conference or meeting to check their child’s folder for forms and always return them to school.
Conferences are also a great time to come prepared with any forms that families may have missed- have them printed and ready to sign while you have the parent’s attention. If there is a parent who needs to sign a form and does not have a conference scheduled, don’t be afraid to approach them at pick-up or drop-off. Handing a form and a pen to a parent and asking them personally for the favor of completing a form is a powerful, effective, and quick way to complete the task.
3. Digitalize Forms
In the modern age of technology, convenience is everything. Offering the convenience of a digital form when possible is a game-changer for both teachers and parents. Not only does it take away the mess and hassle of transferring papers, but it also offers a one-click ease to sign a form. Additionally, offering digital forms erases the potential for students to lose a form or forget to present it to parents.
Streamlining Family Involvement with School Apps
Taking this a step further, an incredible way to streamline family involvement and communication is to implement a school app. This can be done through programs such as Solved Consulting. With a school app that houses forms, parents can quickly and seamlessly access all of their forms at once. Having a digital tool to simplify the process will instantly increase family engagement.
4. Use QR Codes
Once you have digitalized a form, an entirely new world of engagement techniques opens. QR codes are an incredible tool because they are easy to create, use, and display. For example, let’s say you are offering your back-to-school forms digitally this year. Schools can create a QR code linked to those forms, and display it in the front office, on the wall near the carline, and even outside of the school doors.
Any time a parent walks into the office, the secretary can ask, “Have you submitted your forms yet? Please scan this QR code and fill them out now.” With a quick camera scan, parents will immediately be redirected to the website or app housing the forms. Within minutes, the forms will be done!
5. Send Bulk Email-Reminders
Last but certainly not least on our list is sending out bulk email reminders. Emails offer the best of both worlds as they can remind parents to sign both digital and paper forms. Bulk emails serve as a fast and simple reminder to parents and can be sent from the teacher’s email address, the school’s email address, or both!
A trick to making this even easier is to keep a pre-written email draft on a Word document that you can easily modify to fit your need. If you are using a digital form, be sure to link the form in the email as well! This classic method is tried and true and will be a great reminder to parents- especially if they receive multiple reminders!
While all of these techniques are effective on their own, try implementing a mix- or even all- of these together for the best results. It takes a village when it comes to education, and using these tactics will allow educators, administration, students, and families to all be on the same page about the importance of completing school forms.
For more information about implementing a school app, please visit: