I have always thought of Elemental Kids and the people that are connected to what we do, as an emerging community of interest! The most noticeable members of this community are the children that participate, the facilitators that work with them as well as the parents and caregivers. As a community, communication is very important! In fact, I believe that the well being of any community is directly connected to the health of its communication. I have found it easy to engage with children and facilitators because we are together in the same space for extended periods of time. I also make time to be with programme facilitators outside of the Holiday Events to create enough space for connection and sharing.
I have found it more challenging to communicate with parents and family members because there never seems to be enough time. There is often a chance to talk briefly at the beginning or end of the day when children are being dropped or collected. In between Holiday Events there is some email interaction. In both settings, the communication tends to focus on exchanging information. There is limited time to have open ended conversations. I am not saying that these types of conversations between myself and parents never happen, they just tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Since starting Elemental Kids in 2010, my focus has been mainly on the programmes, children and facilitators. As anyone who has started their own business knows, the first few years are intense! In this time, I have been aware of that my communication with parents and caregivers was limited but I felt overwhelmed at the idea of adding something else to my workload.
This is how things remained until my continued efforts to grow Elemental Kids led me to the understanding that it was essential to find a way to communicate more deeply with parents and care givers whether I felt ready or not! Once this understanding took shape, I was inspired to find a solution. I began actively looking for strategies to “make time” and “create opportunities” for deeper engagement…only to realise that as a professional researcher I already had a host of skills and abilities available to me. I decided to develop a feedback survey tool and conduct research which would make it possible to communicate with parents and caregivers through a new channel. It was funny that it took so long for me to make this connection!
I drew up an online survey and sent emails asking parents if they were willing to participate in a telephonic interview and take the online survey. I have to be honest, I was overwhelmed at how eager parents and caregivers were in their responses. I sent out a 100 invitations and within a few minutes there were emails coming back to say “yes”! Three weeks later, 52 people had submitted the online survey, 35 submitted a follow up online survey and an additional 19 people participated in a telephonic interview. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive and in the process I learned a lot about this important group of peoplet.
As promised, here is a brief summary of what parents had to say:
Feedback from first online survey (52 respondents online)
- How professional have you found the Elemental Kids events? 96% said they found them extremely to very professional!
- How often do you make use of our Holiday Events? 49% attend events 3 to 5 times a year; 35% attend events 1 or 2 times a year
- Were you satisfied with your last experience of our Holiday Events? 71% were extremely satisfied; 29% were satisfied
- What do you like most about our Holiday Events? These were diverse comments that focused on the environment, activities, children’s response to the experience and facilitation team members.
- What changes would most improve our Holiday Events? There were limited comments made here; those that were shared focused on location, age of participants and activities
- What would make you more likely to enroll your child in our Holiday Events? Comments focused on friends, activities, schedule and locations
- Choose the amount you would be happy to pay for our Holiday Events – 67% selected R980; 23% selected R1080; 8% selected R1280
- How likely is it that you would recommend Elemental Kids to a colleague or a friend? 73% are extremely likely
- How useful do you find the information shared in the monthly newsletters? 47% find it extremely useful; 50% find it somewhat useful
Feedback from follow up online survey (35 respondents)
- Please select your top 3 venues – 73% Kirstenbosch Stone Cottages; 47% Tokai Forest Camp; 47% Zandvlei Imperial Yacht Club; 35% Observatory Community Centre; 26% Schoenstatt Retreat and Training Centre; 18% Greenpoint Crusaders Memorial Club
- If we had one less facilitator which structure would you prefer? 83% selected 2 facilitators and the Art space; 17% selected 3 facilitators and no art space
- Please select the age breakdown you prefer – 33% select the current structure (5 to 11); 36% selected 5 to 9 and 9 to 11; 30% selected 5 to 10 and 10 to 14
- Please indicate which school system your child participates in – 56% Waldorf; 44% public school; 10 people skipped this question and commented that their children were in other systems
- During which months of the year does your child participate in the Elemental Kids Holiday Events? 32% January; 53% April; 59% June; 56% July; 47% October; 50% December
- Which pricing options do you find the most attractive? 80% selected R980 per week
Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions or feedback about this summary from the parent survey.
I want to thank everyone that participated in the surveys and telephonic interviews again – your willingness to share and openness has had a significant impact on my plans for Elemental Kids in the future. More importantly, I am delighted that I have had an opportunity to get to know you better! I look forward to continuing to connect with you all in the near future!
Thank you 🙂
Tahirih Michot, Director of Elemental Kids