Client Question: Could you provide some in-the-classroom retention tips that work for your school?
At Combined Martial Arts Academy, we implement several techniques and tools within our Kids Martial Arts programs. The tips I’ll provide here are used within our Little Dragons Program (3 to 6 year-olds) and in our Beginners Program (6 to 10 year-olds).
- Age-specific classes – All students are grouped in their respective age group. This is important as it helps with learning and stops bullying. Grouping by age group also builds up confidence and increases the student’s self-esteem.
- Achievable curriculums – We set a grading curriculum that is achievable for the student’s age.
- Break it into four – Each class is broken down into four stages. This helps with students’ concentration as they are not repeating the same thing over and over again for 45 minutes.
- Disguise repetition – Changing the order, instructors and equipment enhances and disguises the repetition of learning.
- Use students’ names at least 3 to 4 times throughout the class – This shows the students that you care about them. I believe this is one of the most important things in student retention.
- Special Events – We continually host special events throughout the year. This allows students to show their friends and parents how well they are doing.
- Take photos and give out awards – We take a photo whenever a student makes an achievement, such as white belt. We also present an award. The award says: “a black belt is a white belt that never quits.” We present the award to the student in front of their peers in the class.
- Stickers – A constant reinforcement and recognition of the hard work and dedication to training.
- Training certificates – 3 to 4 are handed out in each class.
- Monthly attendance awards – These awards are handed out to students who have not missed any classes for the month.
- Shihan’s Super Star Award – This award is given monthly to a student in each division for their effort in school, at home and in class. The student also receives a special badge that is put on their gi.
- Birthday cards – Cards are mailed to each student and they get to wear a black belt for their class. Photos are provided of them wearing a black belt.
- Report cards – Done on a quarterly basis.
- Get well soon and miss you cards – These are sent on a weekly basis to connect with the students so they are not away for too long.
- Pizza party – Students who bring the most awards from school receive a pizza party. This encourages students to not only do well in Martial Arts class, but also other activities, including school.
- Free birthday parties – All children under the age of 10 can sign up for a free birthday party. We include details of this in our information packet.
Consistency and persistence breeds results. These 16 retention tips need to be consistently carried out every month if you want drop-outs to stop. At Combined Martial Arts Academy, we try to be as consistent as possible with these retention efforts. I meet with my management and office staff every third Monday to remind them of these systems and to make sure they are comfortable and using the techniques. Every two weeks I have an instructors meeting and training as well to check to see if they are implementing these systems.
Bill Wakefield is one of Australia’s pioneers of growth and success in the Martial Arts industry, www.c-m-a.com.au. He is a well-known and prominent speaker on the subject of Martial Arts business, as well as a Member Solutions Advisory Team Member.