Family Plan Fees

A "family plan" is when a teacher offers a discount on the second and subsequent students in the same immediate family. The rationale is that another child studying is a sizable financial burden on the family and that they deserve a break on the fee.

Is a family plan a good idea?

I don't think so.

Each student requires the same thought and preparation. Are your efforts worth less to one student than another? Does the fact that they're related make one less worthy? Are your efforts to teach the second child music worth less than to the first child? Less than what the parents would pay to give that second child dance lessons or gymnastics?

I don't think so.

How much can you reduce the fee to increase financial comfort the for the family yet still make it worth your time?

Will a discount of 40 cents or one dollar per lesson be an important factor in the family's decision to place the second child in music study?

Again, I think not.

Maybe a discount of 50% or more would make a major impact on the family's finances, but you can't pay -your- bills if you teach a portion of your load at "half off." Unfortunately, the electric company doesn't offer a family plan!

Actually, as anyone who's ever taught two people in the same family already knows, we ought to charge -more- for the second family member!

In real life, students in the same family require -more- time and preparation than for two students who are unrelated. This is because the one who is less advanced (usually the younger) must not feel that he is being overshadowed by his sibling or parent. Selection of literature is more difficult, too, as you must steer clear of materials that, while very appropriate for a given level of achievement, are already in use by another family member. Having the second student use them, too, invites unwelcome comparison (or, worse yet, competition), which makes study frustrating and demoralizing for the less-advanced student (or the competition loser).

Parents know, before they embark on the fact-finding mission, that their children's enrichment activities will cost money. After they have the information about how much, they will make the decision about whether the benefit justifies the cost.

Don't be apologize about your fee. Don't reduce it. It is what it is and it should apply equally to everyone, even in the same family.

A family plan is just not smart business, any way you slice it.

copyright 1998, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
Contact me about reprint permission.

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