The most important members of your children’s program might just be the parents. After all, it’s parents who sign kids up, pay the tuition, drive them to class, support their practice, and decide if & when they may quit!
Supportive parents give a tremendous boost to a school, both in practical terms (helping out at the dojo) and by creating a positive dojo culture. In rare cases, “nightmare” parents can have the opposite effect: Think “stage parent” interrupting class with their own instructions; argumentative parent questioning the instructor in front of the kids, or disputing a decision about tests and rank; or just, thoughtless parent talking loudly on a cell phone while letting your student’s younger siblings run amok.
A colleague recently asked about dealing with parents: How do instructors handle all the issues we just listed? I’ll toss out a few specific questions, but feel free to post on any aspect of working and communicating with those vital members of your dojo community.
1. Parents don’t necessarily have a clear idea of martial arts values and etiquette when they first register their child. How do you communicate your values and expectations to new parents? through written material? website? conferences?
2. How do you handle “stage parents” and etiquette violators? (Clearly, it requires some tact!)
3. Do you enlist parental involvement in classes or dojo events? How does that work?
4. Do you talk with parents about dealing with those times when a child doesn’t want to come to class? What do you tell them?
5. Do you have a “model parent” – or have you dealt with a “nightmare parent?” Tell us about him or her.
These are such important questions for a successful dojo; I look forward to hearing some great advice.