Maintaining a good working relationship with the parents of your students brings on its own challenges. Some parents can be quite busy. They may simply drop their kids off in the parking lot at the beginning of class, and return when class is over to pick them up, vanishing as quickly as they came. In essence, your contact with these parents may be limited to receiving a monthly tuition payment. Their child may be performing adequately in class, so you see no reason to have more communication with them than you do at present.

Although the above scenario presents an advantage in that these parents do not take up your limited time, there is a disadvantage in that you lack an understanding of how they view your school and their child’s training. You might assume that as long as you get a tuition payment every month, things are okay. If, however, this is your only form of communication and contact with the parents, you may be missing out on some essential information.

There are some things you would benefit from knowing about these parents’ perspectives.

– Are they satisfied with the school, and committed to keeping their child in training?

– Do they see their child as making adequate progress toward the goals which were discussed at the outset of training?

– Are they supporting your efforts with the child at home?

– Are there changes coming up in their family situation, schedule or other areas which may cause them to pull the child out of your school? These considerations, and others, can have an impact on the child’s progress in training, as well as how long he/she remains at your school.

These parents also need information from, and contact with you. Some parents may not understand that training in the martial arts is not just “participating in another sport.” If their kids disappear from your classes after six months, you may simply see this as a lack of commitment on their part to follow through with the training. It is important, however, that you assess your own commitment to maintaining a working relationship with parents which may preempt their departure. This includes helping them to understand that this training is more than a hobby or simple recreation.

There are some important considerations in this regard.

– Do you spend time talking with parents, reminding them of training goals and benefits, and reinforcing the commitment to keep their child in training and at your school?

– Do you talk with them about your efforts with their child, and check to see if there are problems with the school or training, of which you must be aware?

– Do they know how to support your efforts with the child at home? The point is that if you, as the child’s instructor, have this communication with the parents, you can do a great deal to maximize parents’ commitment and support for their child’s training. You also minimize the number of students needlessly terminating training at your school and thus enhance retention.Working with the Parents of Students – 6 

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