This may be the single most important Taekwon-Do students retention strategy you could ever implement. This obviously isn’t the only thing I do for student retention, but it is by far the most critical.
It’s not only a strategy, it’s also a context that all your interactions at the Taekwon-Do school should fall inside of.
The picture above is my Instructor/ Parent/ Teacher Triangle. Notice the student is placed in the middle, surrounded by the people who are most influential in the student’s life.
As an instructor, if you don’t think that you are one of the most influential people in the lives of your students, then you shouldn’t be teaching. This isn’t about ego, importance or significance, it’s just the truth.
Your students aren’t learning Taekwon-Do from you so they can punch, kick and go home sweating. That’s called Cardio Kickboxing.
They stick with you because of the example you set, because (although they may not understand it yet) they know that there’s something more.
They are present to that Taekwon-Do is a way of life. That’s what you are teaching!
Back to the Triangle. The other two influences should be just as obvious. Children spend 6-8 hours a day with their teachers and most of the rest of the time with parents.
Given that, the question you should be asking is:
How do I get all three of the biggest influences in a child’s life all operating consistently and on the same page?
Another way of saying this is… How do I get the parents and teachers operating consistently on MY page?
This is a question I ask myself before I do any communication, promotion, social event, or large event like testing. Then I implement little aspects that can bring the triangle together.
For example, during the intro appointment I let the student know that myself, their parents and their teachers are all watching. I sit the student and parent down to tell them that the three of us will work in partnership to help little Jimmy reach his goal of Black Belt.
This allows the student to see their parents and I talking about them (in front of them) and they take it seriously.
There are three main strategies I use to develop this triangle and to train the parents and teachers.
First is the Parent Coaching Class. I discussed this in an earlier issue, but the idea of the parent coaching class is to literally train them on how to be a Black Belt Parent.
We offer the Parent Coaching Class once a quarter for all our new members. It covers things like teaching parents how to tie a belt, how to train with the kids at home no matter what rank they are, when testings are, how the curriculum is designed and why it is that way, how to hold pads, how to talk to kids when they want to quit and much, much more!
The second thing I use is the homework sheets that everyone in the basic program has to complete. This takes place during the first six weeks of training to start to build new habits. It includes everything from chores, to homework, to respect for family, to eating all your food.
It is a daily reminder for the parents of what we expect from our students and of what we are out to accomplish together.
It’s always on display in the home on the fridge or a bulletin board and quickly becomes a parent’s best friend because the kids want to earn their next star and the parents want the kids to complete everything on the homework sheet.
Now the parents have begun to associate Taekwon-Do with these positive habits and behaviors that they want to see in their children and are thanking you for it.
Finally the third main strategy I use is having the parents and teachers both sign the student’s testing form, check off whether they believe the student is ready to test or not and say why. Both the parents and teachers must sign this form and it must be returned before testing.
And YES, there have been times when a parent or teacher doesn’t think the student is ready to test. This isn’t good news for the student, but great news for you. Now you have the opportunity to talk with the student and the family to get to the bottom of what’s going on and resolve it.
The parents now see you even more as a partner in supporting their child’s progress and the teachers are reminded before every testing that there is something out there (Taekwon-Do) that is demanding excellence from their students and values that teacher’s opinion.
In addition to the testing form, there is a note to the teachers letting them know that we also offer school talks on grades, behavior and success that we do free as a community service. They often invite us to come into the classroom and talk which builds even more credibility and develops powerful relationships in the schools around your location.
The benefits of this type of activity in your community are endless and are only limited by your imagination.
What can you do to develop a powerful Instructor/ Parent/ Teacher Triangle with the families and schools in your area?
The stronger this support system for the student is, the less likely the parents are to allow them to quit or pull them out of your program. It is a structure for the student that is viewed by the parents as a source of power and an indispensable partnership that makes their lives easier.
About the Author:
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do. He has won numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org