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Secrets to creating the ultimate handbooks for your studio

How you can create the perfect pair of studio handbooks that will save you hours AND lead to happier, more informed parents, students, and teachers.

As studio owners, we've all complained about that parent who never seems to know about extra rehearsals or the staff member who just can't seem to keep up with studio communications. But have you ever thought that maybe they're just not sure where to find the information they need?


If you're finding that parents are repeatedly asking you questions that are clearly answered in your student/parent handbook, maybe the problem isn't them but instead, it might be how the information is presented.


And if you're constantly reminding that one teacher about your studio dress code or chasing up another one about their social media posts, then perhaps your policies and expectations for team members isn't as clear as it could be.


It's time to talk handbooks!


Essential for any studio but so, so hard to get right. A good handbook should be so much more than a generic, dense set of rules, regulations and protocols. Instead, a good handbook will not only clearly set out essential info about your studio, the year ahead and policies and expectations for students and staff members - it should do so in a way that reflects your studio values and culture AND is easy to navigate and read.



Keep reading for our top tips for creating handbooks for your dance families and your staff that they'll actually want to read!


Student/Parent Handbook

First and foremost the aim of your Student/Parent Handbook should be to set an inviting tone for your studio that makes your families want to keep reading!


Layout

Divide your handbook into clear sections and include a contents page for easy navigation. Make sure you make an effort when it comes to your layout too. No one wants to scroll through pages and pages of plain black & white text! Even though you'll probably distribute your Student/Parent Handbook as a PDF file, think of it more as a traditional booklet and design it as such (or get some help!). Use images of your students wherever possible and always design pages not to be too text heavy.


Content

As a start, your student/parent handbook should include the following:

  • Your studio mission & values

  • Studio information such as opening hours, address & contact phone number

  • Important dates for the year ahead and a link to your studio calendar and/or class timetable

  • Links to social media channels, private groups and/or your studio app

  • Communication basics such as how you'll communicate and how you expect your studio families to communicate with you

  • Who's who in the studio with photos and brief bios of your teaching & admin staff

  • Information about programs/classes you offer - the different dance styles, what they mean, and who they’re for

  • Your fee structure, costume costs, and refund/cancellation policies

  • Clearly defined Codes of Conduct and how they reflect your core values as a studio

  • Uniform requirements including where to buy


Copy

It's important to keep your information clear and concise so it's easy for people to find the information they're looking for. Where possible, always include links to your website where your students and parents can go for more detail on more involved policies. It goes without saying but ALWAYS use a spell checker and ask a friend or partner to proofread your Handbook before sending it out.


Consider Moving Online

A Digital Student Hub is a great alternative to a traditional handbook - or use it in conjunction to create an indispensable digital destination & internal communication tool. By setting up a fully-customised Digital Student Hub that your dance families can access via their phone, tablet or laptop at any time, you'll be saving yourself AND your team hours of valuable time and energy. Click here to find out more and book us to create yours today.


Staff/Teacher Handbook

Whether your staff are working for you daily or once a week, the aim of your Staff/Teacher Handbook is to keep them empowered and accountable by clearly defining and sharing your policies.


Layout

As with the Student/Parent Handbook, keep the information clear and try to avoid chunks of plain text by getting imaginative with your layout (Canva is a great source of template layouts if you're stuck for ideas). Always use a contents page or index so your team can easily find the information they're looking for and include images so break-up text and create interest.

Content

Your Staff Handbook should be an integral part of your team onboarding so make sure you include all the information your employees need to know - don't just assume they already know! Once you know what you want to include, create an outline with a logical structure. Some ideas on inclusions for your Staff/Teacher Handbook are:

  • Your studio mission & values

  • Studio information such as opening hours, address & contact phone number

  • Important dates for the year ahead and a link to your studio calendar and/or class timetable

  • Links to social media channels, private groups and/or your studio app

  • Communication policies - how you expect your staff to communicate with you, parents, and students

  • Conduct in class and when representing the studio

  • Music and Costuming options, processes, and approvals

  • Links to any cloud-based shared folders such as music, lesson plans etc.

  • Use of class management software

  • Policies & procedures such as:

    • Equal employment opportunity (antidiscrimination)

    • Anti Harassment

    • Unfair dismissal

    • Use of company equipment

    • Absence and sickness policies

    • Holiday policy

    • Mental illness guidelines

    • Appraisal procedure

    • Disciplinary and grievance procedure

Copy

Your Staff/Teacher Handbook should not be an information overload for employees. Keep your sentences simple and straightforward to explain complex concepts clearly. Consider including links to full versions of important policies. Shorter sentences and simpler language tend to be easier to read. Avoid industry jargon or confusing wording. Basically, the clearer and simpler the better. After you’ve written a draft, share it with an employment lawyer to make sure everything is legally sound. Have a strong writer copy edit your staff handbook, if possible, and have an eagle-eyed editor proofread it for typos.

 

Want to save time creating your handbooks? Let us help you! Our Student & Staff Handbook Templates are available NOW. Buy them separately or take advantage of our bundle and get two professionally-designed, ready-to-use handbooks that you can easily customise for your studio. Click here to find out more and get the bundle today.

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