Remember the song from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, “Teach Your Children Well”?

And, no doubt, your school does.

But recall the song also advises to “Teach Your Parents Well.”

If you want those children to remain as part of your school’s enrollment, consider teaching parents, too.

Here’s something to think about during the summer.  To effectively market your school, you need to distinguish your school from other schools by finding out what makes it a remarkable place to be. It needs to be distinctive – doing things that other schools don’t do, making it a place that parents (note that I did not say children) want to be.

With that in mind, think about this: how many schools do you know teach parents? It’s been my experience that most schools ask parents for stuff – tuition, fees, fundraising help, to attend meetings, supplies, to volunteer, to coach, etc.

How many schools actually give parents something? Sure, their child gets an education…but parents are made up of members of Generation X – the ME Generation, and they’re rapidly being displaced by Millennials.  Both generations want to know what’s in it for them!  Generation X wants to know “What’s in it for me?” while the Millennials ask, “What’s in it for us?”

The key to retaining students in your school is retaining parents as part of the school community, and strengthening that community keeps it tight. Why should you teach parents? Recall your educational experience. When you were in school, who were your closest friends? The kids you went to school with. When you were in high school, who were your closest friends? The kids you went to high school with. When you were in college, who were your closest friends? The kids you went to college with. What’s a good way for parents to become close friends? Put them in a classroom and teach them something.

Here are some ideas about how you can do that, AND create positive buzz about your school at the same time:

  • Offer courses in Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and perhaps even LinkedIn.  Sessions could also include information about payment security, especially with credit card usage, laws, and liability going through changes today.
  • Offer courses in Microsoft WORD, Excel, Powerpoint and Access – one night a week for 6 weeks each.  No grades, just ways of making the computer more relevant for them.  You may think people know how to use those tools, but some don’t.  That could be one of the reasons why they ask, ‘What about those people that don’t have a computer?”  And by the way, if you haven’t figured this out yet thanks to the pandemic, if there’s not a computer at home, learning is going to be significantly hampered.  There are going to be more and more times where learning needs to happen at home rather in the classroom, and the expectation will be that parents are there to assist them.  Truthfully, this is one of the big reasons why parents were looking for in-class educational opportunities for their children this past year – because if they had to go to work or return to the office, there was no one there to supervise the children.  If the parents were working at home, they didn’t want to have to entertain their children.
  • Teach them how to handle email properly.  The Stack Method offered by DoubleGemini.com is a great way to learn how to handle the inbox so that it’s not to the point of overwhelming, and puts some structure into place.
  • Offer a course on effective budgeting.  Chances are no one ever taught today’s parents how to properly budget – which could be why many families are in a difficult financial situation today.
  • Teach courses in effective parenting.  Chances are some parents didn’t have positive home experiences and role models to emulate.
  • Teach them the importance of words, especially those used in your school. “Unsubscribe” is not the same as “Do Not Contact” when you’re dealing with email marketing, and “Tuition Assistance,” “Scholarship” and “Financial Aid” are not the same thing.  By the way, if you’re using those terms interchangeably, email me at schooladvancement@gmail.com with the words Financial Assistance – Scholarship – Financial Aid in the subject line, and I’ll let you know the difference.

Andragogy (adult learning) is different from pedagogy, so you wouldn’t have to have your teachers teach these classes. Remember, teachers that are teaching children have to be certified by the State; teachers that are teaching adult learners should have knowledge of and be somewhat of an expert in a particular field of study. If you have a cadre of these individuals that you can call upon – perhaps they’re parents in your school community already – that would be an incredible way to differentiate your school, making it a truly remarkable place to be.

With all this activity happening, who would want to leave during the summer, knowing that they could actually be able to learn some new skills, which could, perhaps, help them change careers.  That would be most helpful in our post-pandemic reality!

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2011-2021 (Original Publication Date: 20110530)