One of the many challenges your Montessori school faces is the issue of student retention rates. It is hard work operating a school while building a cohesive, thriving community. Here are four effective strategies for creating an engaged Montessori community made up of families who are engaged and invested in your school.
1. Emphasize communication
Thoughtful and strategic outreach to your Montessori parents can go a long way in encouraging families to re-enroll each year. Excellent communication and quality service are the keys to keeping families connected to your school and other
families. This sense of community can prevent families from moving on. Consider thinking beyond the occasional parent night to create a communication plan that operates year-round:
- An email newsletter;
- Regular Montessori parent get-together;
- An up-to-date school blog;
- Social media posts and
- Enthusiastic, appreciative, and informative day-to-day interactions
These are some examples of your commitment to open and authentic communication. It shows parents you value their role in your Montessori community. When parents feel they are in the loop and a part of the school, they are more likely to stay.
2. Celebrate achievements
With all that goes into running a Montessori school and the work of building an engaged community, it’s easy to forget to highlight and celebrate your successes. Although it’s sometimes strange to think of a school as a business, many Montessori schools rely on tuition to operate. This means that, like a business, Montessori schools provide a valuable service and that service can benefit from a positive online presence and a little bit of marketing. There are many ways to showcase the wonderful happenings at your school:
- In your email newsletter: showcase your students and examples of their hard work
- On your blog: highlight share a profile of one of your dedicated teachers
- On your social network (Facebook, Instagram, etc): post exciting metrics of school performance
- On your website: celebrate your community and the ways your school partners with and enriches it.
Don’t be shy about sharing all the good things your school is doing!
3. Treat parents like partners in education
Parents can be a knowledgeable resource that your school can leverage. After all, many parents of Montessori students have done their homework on the Montessori philosophy and method and are already invested in the style of education. If you work with them as partners in education you will benefit from a similar investment in your school.
This partnership can entail sharing aspects of your school’s operations and encouraging engagement from a business perspective. For example, be transparent about exciting financial goals or important initiatives, like a new garden or safety protocols. You can also share classroom wishlists, school performance objectives, updates about faculty, fundraising needs, and available parent-support roles. The more parents learn about and get to contribute to your long term goals and day-to-day operations, the more engaged – and likely to stay with your school – they will be.
4. Consider continuous enrollment
If you are not already employing continuous enrollment in your school, this is a simple strategy for encouraging re-enrollment and minimizing retention efforts on your end. Instead of having a conversation with every parent at the end of the year about their enrollment intentions for the next year, you can use an “opt-out” approach. Continuous enrollment assumes the student will be returning unless you are told otherwise, which not only makes less work for you, but also benefits parents. When their child’s enrollment rolls over to the next year, the student is guaranteed classroom placement. When a student first enrolls, just let parents know about your continuous enrollment policy and the benefit of having a secure spot in the school year after year.