Note: This is the second of four posts detailing the non-marketing uses of SMS messaging for various types of organizations.
Routine tends to blunt the edges of significant events. Every day, countless people shower and shave, scarf down cereal, battle traffic on the interstate—and drop off their beloved children at a daycare center or school. The act of leaving one’s progeny in another’s care is profound, no matter how commonplace it may seem, and daycares and schools of all levels would do well to make every effort to assuage potentially anxious parents. Fortunately, SMS messaging provides an easy way for them to do just that.
In fact, when it comes to daycares, SMS can start helping before parents have even finished their Wheaties. Wondering about potential delays can turn an otherwise placid morning frantic, but a timely text message that draws attention to schedule changes, weather issues, traffic congestion, and other holdups. Similarly, text reminders that a child has checked into and out of a program tells parents that people are paying attention to their little ones. Not only can instant alerts regarding accidents, incidents, and health concerns soothe, they provide a buffer against liability. Also, regular communication about fee schedules and account balances means clients don’t ever need to be surprised by a bill.
The benefits don’t stop once children are out of short pants. An SMS system meshes naturally with middle and high school activities. Forget about overlooking PTA meetings or the next varsity football game. Emergency notifications for health or behavior issues are equally easy to send, as is the reporting of final grades. On a related note, some schools have employed text-based anti-bullying programs, which takes a bit of the trepidation out of documenting and reporting untoward incidents.
Students themselves can opt in for their own SMS alerts from teachers and administrators and thereby never wonder about the due date of a paper or when there might be a scheduled quiz. And not only does SMS take some of the hassle out of students and parents’ lives, districts can take heart in the fact that texting will make their budgets go further, reducing paper- and toner-related expenses.
Colleges and universities might also find value in developing an SMS system. The Clery Act—so named for a co-ed who died tragically in 1986—requires, among other things, that schools provide timely warnings when various incidents occur. Thanks to SMS, such warnings can go out almost instantaneously. Other academic, administrative, weather, and sports alerts apply just as much to higher education as they do in daycare and lower-school contexts.
In his 2004 book Margin, Dr. Richard Swenson wrote, “We must have some room to breathe. … It is important to understand how much we have at the beginning of each day and which influences drain our emotions dry or recharge our batteries.” There’s precious little of that room in our busy world. Fortunately, SMS systems can provide some mental space for parents, students, and administrators alike.