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Working with the Parents of Students – 10 Creating Opportunities for Communication

by | Offline Marketing & Sales

Setting Expectations for Martial Arts Students Upfront

Authority is highly influenced by emotion.

While your staff and students may intellectually understand that you are the boss and master instructor, they have to feel it, not think it.

It’s the emotional connection that anchors your authority on a deep level.

If there is one powerful moment in your role as a professional martial arts instructor, it’s in the enrollment conference.

While the parents may see you as the master black belt, they usually don’t have an authoritative reverence at this early stage.

The enrollment conference is a seminal moment for you to establish your authority and gain the respect and gratitude of the family you’re dealing with.

Presenting the programs and their cost to parents can be tense at times. Some parents want to negotiate. Others might object to the agreement. Some want a safety net in case their child wants to quit.

While it’s important that you are prepared to overcome any objections, it’s when the bottom line is signed and the initial investment is completed that you have a critical window to demonstrate your authority.

Many owners complete the transaction and gush with statements like, “Awesome. It’s great to have you on board. Johnny, you did an awesome job tonight. High five! Thanks Mrs. Jones it’s great to have Johnny as part of our family. Let me know if I can help with anything.”


Who has the role of authority here? Mrs. Jones and her credit card. That was a missed opportunity.

Let’s try again. You would adjust this script to the age and circumstance, but here is an authority template for the enrollment conference.

Mom has just enrolled Johnny into the program.

You, “Johnny. You want to learn Empower Kickboxing, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. I want you to understand that your mom just enrolled you into a six month program. You are going to learn a lot of great skills and lessons. It’s going to be fun and sometimes it’s going to be hard. That’s the good part because that means you’re learning. So you have to pay attention and practice at home 20-minutes a day when you don’t have class.

Are you going to work hard and practice?”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m glad. Your classes are Monday and Wednesday at 5pm. When are your classes?”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“Good. You’re a smart guy. That means that you have to be ready to come to class by 4:30 on Monday and Wednesdays so that you’re not late. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you are doing, you will be ready by 4:30, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. The first lesson is integrity. Integrity means that you do what you say you are going to do. You keep your promises. You promise to work hard and be ready for class, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you’re doing. Right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Great. We’re going to be so proud of you. Your mom just enrolled you, so please turn to her and say, ‘Thank you mom.”

“Thank you mom.”

“Alright. When someone does something good for you, you always say thank you. That’s called gratitude. What’s it called?”


“Correct. So you’ve learned two important lessons today. Integrity and gratitude. What does integrity mean?

“Keeping your promises.”

“Yes. What does gratitude mean?”

“Saying thank you.”

“You got it! You are going to do great, I can tell already.”

“Remember, your class is…”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“When will you be ready to come to class?”


“You have a good head on your shoulders Johnny. You’re going to be good at this.”

“Because you’ve showed your mom gratitude and you’re going to keep your promises, here is a school t-shirt for you to wear. Every time you put it on, I want you to think of integrity and gratitude. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“I just gave you a shirt. How do you show gratitude?”

“Thank you sir.”

As taught in the MATA Certification program, it’s also a good idea to let mom know that it’s important that she control what Johnny is doing around 4:30 which is the agreed upon to be ready for class.

If Johnny is playing with his friends or deep in a video game, it’s going to be harder to get him to get ready than if he is cleaning his bedroom or something he’d like to leave to go to class.

Keep in mind that mom is watching this happen before her eyes. What have you done to establish your authority?

  1. You’ve provided her with a language pattern that both her and Johnny understand. This is huge.
  2. You’ve given mom the “integrity” framework to deal with any reluctance to go to class.
  3. You’ve provided her with a strategy to engage Johnny in less fun activities so that going to class is an easy decision.
  4. You’ve laid out when Johnny should get ready for class without complaint.
  5. Before her eyes, you taught her son important lessons with real world examples. No doubt, your authority sky-rocketed in her eyes and in her heart.

Look for places where you can make these kinds of strong emotional connections.

Demonstrate true authority and leadership. That will last much longer than a trite, shallow compliments like “Awesome! Good job.”

This will help your students to understand how and why they are training with the best school.

Communication doesn’t occur unless there is an opportunity for it to occur. If you want to maintain a good working relationship with the parents of your students, it is beneficial to create opportunities for communication with them. There are various methods which can be used in doing so.

As discussed previously in this chapter, regularly scheduled meetings may be appropriate and desired by some parents. Other parents may not feel the need, nor have the time for these meetings. You can, however, initiate conversations with them when they drop their kids off, or pick them up from training. Be sensitive to their availability. If they have a few minutes, a pleasant greeting can open a conversation and allow them to express their thoughts, or to ask questions about their child’s training.

Solicit feedback in the form of surveys. Although having these on hand at the school will get some results, mailings with self-addressed, stamped envelopes will allow the parents who only see your parking lot to participate.

Phone calls to parents whom you rarely see can open the door to increased communication. Unexpected phone calls, however, can be a little annoying or anxiety-provoking at times. If you talk with them about the fact that you like to receive feedback from parents, you can suggest occasional meetings or phone calls and gauge their response.

If you do have this type of contact, calendars, tickler files, or databases can be helpful in remembering when to make your next contact. Also, making a few notes when you do talk can provide consistency for subsequent contacts, as well as add to the value and importance of these conversations.

Newsletters can be used to acquaint parents with you, as well as other personnel at your school. Include articles that invite parents to contact you with comments or questions. Newsletters can also alert parents to any group activities, or an open house which you may be sponsoring. Such gatherings may become the forum for increased communication, and enhance the personal, friendly atmosphere of your school. Allow parents to volunteer to help at such functions if appropriate opportunities exist. This type of atmosphere does not detract from your professional reputation, and can be a point of added value for many students and parents.

It is also essential that your school is an inviting place for parents to stay during classes. Adequate seating which allows parents to watch the classes and have conversations with each other is essential. When they do come in, make them feel welcome. The message to them is that you appreciate them being there, and you want to make this a pleasant experience when they do come to your school.

Creating opportunities for communication might require some additional effort and creativity on your part. It does, however, send an important message to parents. It tells them that what they think about and expect in their child’s training is important to you.

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