The first email arrives on the first day of school. The last one appears on the final day of classes. And every weekday from August to May, another shows up in my email feed.
They’re from my son’s middle school, giving me a daily report on his grades, pending assignments and homework that is late or missing. So each day, every day, I can see how he’s doing.
Well, not really.
The grade reports are almost never current, so I can’t tell from the emails whether my son is soaring or struggling. Teachers sometimes take a week or two to mark papers and enter scores in the system. Assignments can register as missing for weeks. So it’s totally unreliable. I get more information out of my reserved 13-year-old than than I do from the daily emails.
The school administration undoubtedly thinks it’s keeping parents well informed. But I find myself deleting four of the five emails they send each week.
I’m inundated with content, but it’s not valuable content. It’s not up to date or helpful. And unlike teacher conferences, these emails don’t offer any context.
As a content strategist and frustrated parent, I’d suggest several changes:
Don’t overwhelm your audience. Middle-school students, not parents, should be the only ones receiving daily emails because they’re ultimately responsible for managing their schedules and finishing their work. I hung up my helicopter mom hat when my son entered middle school.
Highlight new “industry information” such as recent quiz scores so no one wastes time figuring out what’s changed in the past days or week.
Find out what your audience wants. Some parents might prefer quarterly summaries. Others, perhaps those who have children with learning challenges, might prefer daily communication, even if it’s not always current.
Oversharing is just as problematic as going incommunicado. But if you know your audience and their needs, you can provide the right content at the right frequency.