How This School Owner Keeps Students Engaged Over the Summer

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Chosen Martial Arts

Chosen Martial Arts Academy, located in Palmyra, PA, is a traditional martial arts school with a curriculum built around the central core of self-defense. This school has a unique way of dealing with the challenge of keeping students engaged, so we caught up with owner and life-long martial artist, Lester Hicks, to learn more.

Here’s what we learned:

Keeping students engaged and in class is a challenge for school owners everywhere, and it was one that Les struggled with too. He knew that one way to keep students in class was with a steady stream of good communication. By staying on your student’s minds, you keep them interested in training. Another way to keep them in class is by tracking attendance and making sure they test when they’re ready to test. That way, they don’t lose interest by being under-challenged or bored.

Chosen Martial arts 0

To communicate with your students, you can send individual emails or hope that a once a month newsletter will be enough. You can also manage test registration and attendance tracking manually. The problem with doing things this way is that it takes up a lot of time, and eventually students fall through the cracks. Les experienced this struggle first hand. “We’re big enough that if we aren’t careful, students can be lost,” Les told us. “I knew there had to be a better way to do things.”

Fortunately, Les heard about the student management software, Zen Planner, and decided to give it a try. “I did the free trial with Zen Planner, and that was all I needed to know this is the perfect solution,” Les explained.

The first thing he did with the system was automate his student communication, so personalized emails go out to students automatically. Les set them up to go out after a student’s first class, second week and on special events like anniversaries and birthdays. Automated emails also go out to students weekly during the summer to keep them interested in training. “I give kids a weekly challenge forms and ask them to send pictures of them doing it in interesting places,” Les told us.

“I noticed right away that my students and parents appreciate the improved communication. They even comment on how great it is that I’m keeping the kids engaged over their summer break,” Les told us. “Just this week I got a photo of a student doing martial arts with Chewbacca in the Disney Theme Park. I have no doubt that this is working to keep them excited to train.”
Les also used Zen Planner to embed his schedule on his website and social media profiles, which helps his students and parents stay up to date and in class. “My class schedule is on my website in interactive format. No more having to update paper schedules,” Les explained. “Students can register for class and see how many other students are going to be there too.”

Attendance tracking and test registration are also automated now, so Les saves time not having to do it manually. Even better, no one will fall through the cracks. Attendance is tracked when students check in, test registration reminders are sent automatically and Les can run a report to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be. “The automated test registration process is making sure students aren’t missed, which helps keep them testing and engaged,” Les said.

“Things are so much better for us now that we’re using student management software. Before, I tried to stay on top of student emails, but doing that took up all of my time. Test registration was no better- we used to have test request slips mixed in with other papers, all waiting for me to process,” Les told us. “When you’re stuck doing things manually, it’s impossible to make sure your students are engaged.”


Looking for additional ways to keep your students engaged and active in your school? Get your copy of our free guide, Four Essential Strategies for Student Retention.

martial arts student retention guide

Shilo Lucyk

Shilo Lucyk

In her spare time Shilo enjoys teaching yoga classes, doing CrossFit® and reading anything she can get her hands on.

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