Why You Should be Offering Free Parenting Courses
Many people would say that being a parent is the most difficult job out there. New parents read books, get advice from friends and their own parents, and yet, are still faced with challenges they do not know how to overcome. From tantrums to child development, many questions arise over those early years of parenthood and beyond.
There are very few parents who wouldn't be willing to gain insight and support from child development experts, such as Montessori guides and school leaders. This is an amazing window of opportunity for schools to step in and become the ultimate source of support for their local parent community.
As a School, Your Local Community is Everything
Schools work to serve their local community.
To put it in marketing terminology, schools are targeting their audience based on geographic location. This is your first layer of targeting before you even get into the layers that determine whether or not a family is mission appropriate for your school.
This means you have to be strategic about how you lead local families to your school. A really effective way to do this is to invite parents to your school by offering them something that is free of charge and worth their time. Focus on piquing their interest in Montessori education, and showing parents that an investment in their child's education can actually extend to an investment in themselves as parents. Give them free advice, let them ask questions, and inform them about Montessori methods.
As a result, you will have a local group of parents who have built trust in your school and have felt supported by your guides. They will also have a better understanding of Montessori philosophy and how to approach a variety of scenarios as their child grows and develops.
There are many ways that you can advertise a free parenting course:
- Post about it in local gathering spaces such as libraries, coffee shops, book stores. Many of these locations have bulletin boards where people can post flyers.
- Talk to local pediatricians and gynecologists. Oftentimes they will have an area in their office where you can put out brochures to advertise your free parenting classes to new parents. A great strategy is to reel in parents from the Nido age, even if you do not have a Nido program. Just offer them support and your school will be top of mind for them in the future.
- Create a Facebook group for your parenting course. Advertise free parenting events, have a forum for parents to exchange advice and ideas, all under the umbrella of your school. This is amazing for branding.
- Advertise your free parenting classes on your school website and social media pages. This will attract the more hesitant browsers to get their foot through your door and experience for themselves what your school has to offer. This helps to make your school feel more approachable.
- Ask existing parents to invite a friend to the parenting course. Encourage them to bring as many as they would like.
- Offer courses leading up to popular enrollment periods in order to attract parents who are researching schools for their children.
Drawing in a More Diverse Crowd
By offering parenting courses to your community for free, you are eliminating a major hurdle that many families face - financing. By inviting any parent to join, whether they attend your school or not, you are allowing everyone to participate. Inclusivity is key when planning an event like this. The more accessible you can make it for parents to attend, the more diverse your crowd will be. Try to use the following verbiage in your event announcement call to action:
- "All parents or parents-to-be are welcome."
- "Join us for a free parenting course."
- "Learn about child development for free."
- "How you can Montessori at home: free parenting course."
Make sure you mention what you are offering and that anyone is welcome to join.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can even offer a child drop off service, where parents can bring their children to the school, drop them off to be left with a childminder, so that they may attend the parenting course.
If your school gives out scholarships, this is a great time to bring them up to families and let them know that you want all children to have access to better education. Many parents choose daycare and early schooling based on cost and are under the impression that Montessori schools have high tuition. This is a great platform to tell your local community that there are many opportunities to attend your school.
Spreading the Word on Montessori
When parents become aware of what Montessori is, Montessori schools everywhere benefit. That in itself is a huge triumph.
By establishing a sense of trust and educating parents about Montessori, you can create a life long good impression. Even if some parents do not move forward with enrolling their child in your school, they may leave your parenting course singing praises of how great your Montessori parenting course was. This could bring new prospective families your way in the long run.
Giving local families help without asking anything in return is going to create lasting returns.
Find Support in Your Mission to Educate Parents
Educating a whole community on parenting and Montessori can be a daunting task. Luckily, you do not have to face it alone.
There are countless online communities for schools to exchange resources, share presentations, and give each other advice. This can save you a whole lot of time and energy.
Online communities such as Montessori Thrive have a Montessori administrator forum, as well as a collection of resources that can help schools with marketing, parent education, and much more.
You can also join a Facebook Group where you can ask questions, gain support, and make important connections with other Montessori schools that are on a similar journey to your own school. You can join the Montessori Thrive Facebook Group here and start getting support on educating your parent community.