“Phantom parent” is the term a colleague of mine uses for parents that only drop off or pick up their child at music lessons. These shadowy figures wave from the inside of a car and then disappear. Private Music Teachers of all disciplines have experienced to some degree – the phantom parent.
There are many different reasons that phantom parents are haunting your teaching studio.
- They are crazy busy and/or have time management issues.
- They have a younger/older sibling who would be distracting in the lesson studio.
- They are not “musical” and feel uncomfortable asking questions.
- They do not understand the importance of communicating with the music teacher.
- There is a language barrier.
- They are shy.
- They have had other music teachers in the past that did not have open door policies.
Truth Bomb: Sometimes it is the teacher who is responsible for phantom parents
- You have never communicated that they are welcome in your place of business.
- They do not feel comfortable in your teaching studio.
- Your teaching studio does not have adequate seating/parking/space.
Phantom parents make teachers work longer (unpaid) hours
If you have to take time after teaching hours to contact MIA parents, whether by phone,email, text or social media, that is your personal time you are giving away. You work hard enough in the lesson studio. Nothing is more important than your family time and you will never get that time back. Do not let parents come to expect extended hours of free service/advice from you.
Why is this important?
When families are involved, children stay in lessons longer. When teachers and parents work together most learning challenges can be easily overcome. Most importantly, a parent who knows you well will be sure to recommend your teaching studio to others!
What can you do?
Make the effort to connect. Smile. Wave them in. Communicate. Invite them into your lesson. Make sure you have a space for them in your studio. They don’t have to be there every week, but regularly. You can avoid future phantom parents by letting new families know that they are always welcome.