Translating School-Home Communication for Parents & Families

At Livingtree, we strive to connect schools and families so that schools can communicate effectively and engage parents in their student’s learning. That’s why we’ve built extensive translation features within the Livingtree Engage communication platform.

Why is it important to translate school communication?

Effective and open lines of communication are key to building strong family-school relationships that boost family engagement and ultimately drive student success. However, language can easily become a barrier if teachers are not equipped with resources to overcome it. Schools must be able to overcome this barrier and establish effective lines of communication with limited English proficient parents, not only because it’s important to student success, but because it’s the law.

And with today’s school populations growing more ethnically and culturally diverse, it’s never been more important to have translations available for school communications. When you have a multilingual parent population, it’s important to consider these aspects of school translations to improve communication with families and avoid misunderstandings:

What to consider about translating school communications:

Number of Languages Available

If you’re using a parent communication app or system, consider how many languages are available for families to choose from for translation into their primary language. A communication platform with 20-30 languages will cover widely spoken languages and might be enough if you have a smaller multilingual parent population.

Livingtree Engage Langauge Translations
Langauge Translation Options on Livingtree’s Engage platform

But what if you have students whose families speak languages beyond those that are considered “widely spoken?” A communication platform like Livingtree Engage that has over 100 languages available is a better option and will make it easier for teachers and schools to communicate with parents, regardless of language.

Automatic Translation

When communications are automatically translated into every parent’s primary language, teachers save time and parents feel valued. Teachers don’t have to find the time and resources to provide individual translations, and parents with limited English proficiency don’t have to figure out how to translate and understand their messages. Automatic translations make it easy to create an open line of communication between school and home.

Viewing the Original Message

Of course, while technology is making great strides to accurately translate human languages, it’s not always 100% correct. In those instances, you should make sure that parents have the ability to view the original message. Viewing the original message can help parents further understand a message and avoid any confusion from hiccups within a translation.

Two-Way Translation

Livingtree Engage Two-Way Translations for School Communication

Two-way communication is a critical aspect of family engagement, so it’s important to have two-way translations as well. This means that you write your message in English and families receive the message in their preferred language. Parents can then write back in their preferred language and you’ll receive the message back in English. This two-way interaction not only opens the lines of communication but also creates a sense of community and builds stronger relationships between staff and families.

Use Simple Words

When writing in an app or platform that provides translations for families, be mindful of the words you use and attempt to use words that are simple. Patricia Weinzapfel is the author of the book No More Mumbo Jumbo that reveals the complicated language typically used in education and ways that schools can bridge this communication gap. As a guest on one of Livingtree’s Family Engagement webinars, she suggested:

“The simpler the words, the more easily they are translated and understood in other languages.”

Patricia Weinzapfel, author of No More Mumbo Jumbo, discusses how simplifying your communication can improve translations

Communication that uses simple words, and is free from jargon, slang, and idioms is more easily translated. Just remember that English is a complex language, especially to those attempting to learn it for the first time. Look for complicated words and replace them with simpler words to improve your translations.

Use Visuals

Providing a visual with your messages is another strategy to help with understanding and comprehension. Visuals can be in the form of videos, images, gifs, etc., so if you have a parent communication platform like Livingtree Engage that allows you to attach these types of files, don’t be afraid to find visuals to accompany your messages to parents.

14 Ways to Thank Teachers

When students were home during the school closures, quarantines, and virtual learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever before have realized the immense amount of work and dedication that teachers put into their jobs day in and day out on behalf of their students. More and more people are even feeling inspired to go out of their way to say thank you.

Whether you’re celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week, Teacher Appreciation Day, the end of the school year, or just want to say thank you to a teacher, we’ve got you covered!

Here are 14 ways to thank your teacher:

1. Create a Photo Collage Message With Other Students and Families

Get together with other students and families to make a photo collage message that thanks a teacher or your school’s entire staff! Simply plan and coordinate a message among your group, take your pictures, and put them together for your teacher or faculty!

Here’s an example of a thank you collage from some students at Lake View High School:

2. Record A Personal Thank You Video

Whip out a phone or open up a computer and record a personal thank you message for your teacher! Share memorable moments, ways they’ve impacted you, something specific you’ve learned, or just your favorite thing about being in their class.

3. Record a Collaborative Thank You Video

Work together with your fellow classmates to put together a collaborative thank you video. Have each person record a small segment saying thank you, and put them all together to produce a heart-warming video your teacher will love.

4. Record a Group Singing Video

Is there a song your teacher is obsessed with? Maybe one that became a theme in your class? Collaborate with your classmates to sing (or lipsync) the song in honor of your teacher!

5. Record a Group Dance Video

Ok, so singing isn’t your thing? Collaborate with your classmates and choreograph a dance instead! Have each person record a segment and put them all together for a group dance video!

6. Create a Voice Recording

If you want to put together something pre-recorded without any video, try just using the voice recording app on a phone to record a message for your teacher. Letting teachers hear their student’s voice is a very personal way to thank them for all of their hard work. After recording it, simply attach it to an email or upload it online to share it with them.

7. Give Them a Call

The simplest thing to do might just be to give them a call and say thank you. Try waiting until shortly after the school day is over while they are still “in office” to call.

8. Send Them a Digital or E-Card

Canva thank-you to teachers

Send your teacher a digital card or e-card! There are a variety of websites that you can use to send a digital card or video to your child’s teacher.

One option is to use Canva. Their easy-to-use site allows you to design your own thank you cards or choose from a variety of templates. You can check out Canva’s Thank You Card Hub to explore all of their options.

Another option you can explore is Hallmark’s Teacher Appreciation Day cards. If you’re looking for a premade option that you can just purchase and send, they have a number of e-card options to choose from.

9. Create a Hand-Made Work of Art

Hand Painted Thank You Note for Teacher Appreciation Week

Draw, write, color, or paint a thank you and send it to your teacher! Depending on where your school is at with in-person learning, there are a variety of ways to deliver it. If you can’t physically deliver or mail it, try scanning or taking a picture of it! If your teacher is on Livingtree Engage, use the inbox feature and send it as a direct message.

10. Write a Heartfelt Card or Letter

Physically write a heartfelt card or letter to your teacher (just watch that grammar!). Need ideas of what to write? Share memorable moments, ways they’ve impacted you, something specific you’ve learned, or just your favorite thing about being in their class.

11. Do an Act of Gratitude on Their Behalf

Act of Gratitude for Teacher

You can do something for your community on behalf of your teacher. Take some time to volunteer, or make a donation in your teacher’s name.

12. Send Them a Gift Card

Gift cards are certainly still an option, especially since most are available to send via email. Here are a few great options to consider:

Teachers can always use Amazon gift cards, whether it be for school supplies, home goods, groceries, or a movie night on Amazon Video.

Netflix or Hulu
Speaking of movie nights, a gift card to Netflix or Hulu could mean a month of movie nights at home or binge-watching an addicting show.

Your local grocery store
Purchase them a gift card to the local grocery store in your community. Taking care of the essentials is always appreciated.

Food or grocery delivery
Gifting them a gift card for a food or grocery delivery service is the perfect gift. A gift card to a grocery delivery service like Instacart enables your teacher to receive groceries without having to leave the house. Gift cards for food delivery services like Uber Eats, Doordash, Favor, and Postmates also make great meal gifts, and support your local delivery workers and restaurants.

Local shops or restaurants
Gift cards to local places help support your community during these difficult times, and make a great gift that teachers will appreciate.

13. Send Them Flowers

Thank You Flowers for Teacher

Flowers are always a great and meaningful gift to say thank you. Consider taking a bouquet or ordering one to be delivered to your teacher!

14. Support Their Fundraising Campaigns

Support a Teacher's Online Fundraising Campaign for Teacher Appreciation Week

Many teachers fundraise online for classroom supplies and projects. Sometimes funding requests for their projects are also made available online as grants through their education foundation. Either way, if your child’s teacher has a fundraising project on an online school fundraising site like Livingtree Give, consider supporting it. A small donation, or even just sharing it out on social media can be a big help.

Interested in creating an online fundraiser for your school? Sign up for a free Livingtree Give fundraising account!

Looking for better school communication or school fundraising?

Livingtree is where school communities get connected! Whether you’re looking for a school communication system to centralize classroom, school, and district communication in one place for families, or an online fundraising platform to help you reach more donors and raise more money, Livingtree can help! Learn more about Livingtree’s solutions below:

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