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With back to school in full swing, it’s not just new students that aren’t sure where to go or what to do quite yet.  You know what it’s like being new and not knowing what to do and worrying you’re not going to get it right. 

Parents practicing the car line process with their kids

Parents, too, need some help understanding critical components of the school day like student drop-off and pickup. 

Prioritize Parent Engagement

Yes, you want parents to engage with your critical day-to-day processes, like how the car line dictates drop off, dismissals, and pick up. However, the benefits of parent engagement encompass so much more than that. 

For instance, active engagement from the parents at your school offers positive benefits for students and parents alike. That could look like…

  • Decreased disciplinary issues
  • Improved academic performance
  • Higher grades
  • Better parent-teacher relationships
  • Improved school environments & culture
  • Lower rates of high school dropout

Working with families on how their kid(s) will get to and from school is one of the best gateways to increased parent engagement. Every kid needs to get to school somehow, so leveraging that need can build strong relationships and keep parents in the loop. 

a child hugging her parent through a car window

Let’s take a look at some strategies to help you easily and effectively communicate the car line process to new and returning parents. 

Get Your Game Plan in Order

Ideas are one thing; execution is another. Let’s review a few tips that will help you prepare parents to understand and embrace the car line process. 

Think about upcoming ideal opportunities in which the administration, teachers, staff, and parents will all be interacting, anyway. Here’s a big one: 

Back to school orientation

Back-to-school orientation provides a unique opportunity in that all your parents are in attendance and eager to get all the school year information. 

a teacher sharing the back to school car line process with new parents

Enhance your back-to-school orientation with a presentation on transportation that… 

  • Explains the different modes of transportation available to and from school. Depending on your school, this could just be a car line or could include car line, bus routes, walkers/bikers, and an assortment of afterschool programs. 
  • Demonstrates how dismissal works for each transportation mode from both the student and parent perspective. By showing from both perspectives, parents can help reinforce the process to their kids while also giving them peace of mind their student is safe during dismissal.
  • Presents how parents can communicate transportation mode changes. We know transportation changes can be one of the most time consuming tasks for school staff, so this is your opportunity to show parents EXACTLY how you want them communicating those changes in a way that doesn’t derail your day. 
  • Describes what parents can expect as far as notifications/communication on student dismissal

If you choose to take advantage of this opportunity — and we hope you will, please be sure to include how emergency reunification would work in the case of events like fire or extreme weather. 

A bus attendee helping kids get on a school bus

Set up a transportation help desk that answers parents specific questions about their unique situation. 

Remember, not everyone feels comfortable raising their hands to ask questions in front of a group. Think, for example, of co-parents who need to organize two different modes of transportation for their child or children. They might not feel comfortable posing questions that reflect the personal reality of their family in front of a large audience at an event like back-to-school orientation. 

Establishing a space where parents can speak confidentially to someone one-on-one will also underscore that trust factor you’re trying to establish. 

Whether it’s at the orientation or separate, we also recommend gathering key information from parents from the very start. The best way to do that? 

Kicking off the year with a questionnaire

a person doing a questionnaire on their phone

Think of this as a personal and confidential interview with the parents in your school. By circulating a questionnaire, you can confirm, in writing, critical information like: 

  • Default pick-up modes – how are their students getting home from school each day? 
  • Additional parents, guardians, or approved delegates – who is allowed to pick up their student and are there any nuances to this like custody issues?
  • Emergency contacts – what is the contact information for those that should be notified in the event of an emergency?

Did you know that you can use Pikmykid to facilitate this questionnaire, so information like students’ transportation settings and emergency contacts are already in the tool? 

Provide multiple ways for families to access transportation information. 

It should go without saying that transportation is not one-size-fits-all for students and their families. That’s why providing options for parents to access transportation information is critical. 

We encourage you to provide help documents and pickup instructions to make the pickup process crystal clear. We’ve even seen schools create instruction videos demonstrating how their car line works. 

Be sure to promote this information on your website, share at ‘meet the teacher’ events, or even have printed documentation ready to send home with report cards or other critical correspondence. 

parents meeting their students new teachers

We’ve mentioned back-to-school orientation; however, if you can’t manage a presentation or help desk, simply provide printed copies of the transportation process, which can be sent home with parents at the event’s conclusion. 

Emails are another easy touchpoint; that said, please don’t rely exclusively on electronic communication. We’ve found that some parents aren’t as responsive in reviewing their email inboxes. 

Did you know that Pikmykid supports customers with documentation and online videos showing parents how to use the Pikmykid parent app?  

Distribute school car line tags

Car tags and corresponding student tags (or backpack tags) are a common resource schools leverage for their car line. These tags allow dismissal coordinators to quickly match up the student and their guardian before dismissing a student.

Car tags are great to distribute during a back-to-school night, and you can also do so by standard mail, email, or by sending the tags home with students directly. 

If you’re using Pikmykid’s safety and dismissal technology, your car tags are available both electronically and for print. Having printed car tags as a backup is great for when phones die or family members, perhaps grandparents, are technologically averse. 

a child waving at their dad after getting dropped off in the car line at school

Ask families to adhere to your processes & deadlines. 

You created this process for a reason! 

One of the keys to successful change management and process adoption is consistency. Continue to reinforce your pickup process and promote it within your parent population. 

Pro-tip: Set and stick to deadlines for parents to complete your preferred steps

In addition, make it worth their while to do so by offering incentives for using your process and tech. Incentivizing engagement with a new process, especially one as critical as car line, can be a quick way to get people on board ASAP. 

How can you incentivize your school’s car line process for parents? 

Easy

Offer a VIP or Express Lane for those using your dismissal technology

This express lane can help reward the parents who are on board with the program while encouraging others to follow suit.

Offer a class prize

You can leverage class prizes for all sorts of things like filling out the questionnaire, setting up the parent app, or other components of getting parents on board

students sitting on a gym floor holding balls

The genius of this incentive involves the parent-student relationship. If their kids are excited about the app, it’s likely that their parents will embrace it, if for no other reason than to make their kid or kids happy.

Already a Pikmykid customer? 

If you’re already using the Pikmykid solution, here are some ideas to help enhance your current back-to-school processes. 

  • Facilitate parents to set up their app by generating parent connection codes and providing them at back-to-school night. 
  • Review the benefits of how Pikmykid will help save them time and any worry around their student’s safety.
  • Enroll parents in the online Pikmykid Academy to learn how to use the various components of the app.
  • Upload Parent App Ad Banners to reflect resources & events – this keeps them up to date with upcoming events or deadlines like back-to-school night, book fairs, and more. 
  • Communicate that you’ll be using Pikmykid exclusively to manage emergency contacts.
  • Review how the app will help with emergency reunification in the event of a fire, extreme weather, or another emergency.
  • Encourage teachers to provide updates through the parent notification tool within Pikmykid.
  • Continue to reinforce the process.
dismissal management safety and emergency tools

Not a Pikmykid customer, but want to be? 

Great idea! 

We’re excited to meet you and invite you to request a demo to get started!

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