Ask the Experts: Keeping Up Attendance
A: Creating a studio culture where consistent class attendance is the norm requires ongoing communication with students and parents. We find that while parents of recreational dancers usually consider dance class a fun and healthy activity, their children’s academics, school activities, siblings’ schedules and family events often cause them to miss class. Since the absences are generally tied to circumstances the student cannot control, we avoid rewarding regular or perfect attendance. Instead, we created a very flexible makeup-class procedure. This way, parents don’t feel that tuition is lost, and their child can easily participate, regardless of what circumstances arise.
The way it works is this: On our website, in e-mails and during the registration process, we use an upbeat, positive tone to clearly state our expectations regarding attendance and our makeup-class policy. If a student has been absent for two classes in a row, we send a friendly e-mail: “We have noticed you have not been in your [day/time/style] class recently. Attendance is very important for students at every age and ability level. Please make every effort to attend all classes, and when absent, please call ahead to inform the office and arrange a suitable makeup class at a time that is convenient for you. We look forward to seeing you in class next week!” The teacher or office manager then makes a follow-up phone call to reinforce our concern.
Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.
Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety