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Thursday, December 13, 2012 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

Schools Find New Ways to Communicate With Parents

Today, schools in the United States communicate with parents in many different ways. Mail is still used, but now, schools and parents connect through email, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Skype.

The Houston Independent School District in Texas has more than 200,000 students. Most of them come from lower-income families. The newspaper Education Week recently reported on a digital-literacy training program that the district has started for parents. Microsoft helped the school district establish computer training centers for parents at five of its campuses.

Other schools around the country are also increasing their digital services, and not just in English. Many schools provide information in Spanish and other languages. Free online translation sites can also help parents stay informed about their children's education. Some school systems even give parents online access to their children's grades and schoolwork.

Six hundred students attend Knapp Elementary School near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Joe Mazza is head of the school. He says nearly one in five of his students come from Bangladesh, and 12 percent come from South Korea. Joe Mazza says the most important way that a school gets to know parents is in face-to-face meetings. But under his guidance, the school has added social networking tools to meet the needs of the community.

The school uses resources like Twitter, e-newsletters and Skype. Teachers can talk to parents over Skype if the parents cannot attend a conference in person. "Social media," Joe Mazza says, "is providing us with many new, and really free ways to connect with parents."

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 22Nov2012)