Studio Policies


Building vacation time into tuition

QuestionQuestion
Stephen R., California

I have not been giving myself set time off each year, but now am considering 2-3 weeks. Any advice/thoughts?

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Ruth P., North Carolina

Are you talking about ‘paid’ time off? I’ve considered having at least a week paid vacation but never have done it.

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Stephen R., California

Yes, I know teachers who charge a flat monthly fee and the time off is designed into that, sometimes up to two months off.

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Laurie Richards, Nebraska

Our local teachers factor in 2-8 weeks of paid vacation per year. I just upped mine to 10 weeks. I schedule 6-7 of those weeks in advance and keep the remainders as floaters to use for sick days or unexpected days I need off.

Having said that, I have opted to increase my vacation weeks rather than my tuition rate. I am at the high end in our area for tuition, but honestly could probably go a little bit higher. I charge a flat fee every month, and I teach year round.

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Stephen R., California

I need to give myself time off! I have had a hard time doing that. Teaching all the time. But my yearly time off should be factored in my tuition. Maybe 2-3 weeks off a year and gradually increase it? Christmas wee and two in the summer makes sense. I remember moving towards a flat fee and I was nervous to do it. I just did not factor in vacations for myself (or paid time off).

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Terah W., Kansas

When I started my studio (switching from traditional), I borrowed the policies from other teachers in my area, then had two of my friends–English majors–go through it. They tweaked only a couple of things but one thing really got my attention. They were impressed with and encouraging of the vacation time/holidays figured in (a current total of 7 weeks/year). Without any prompting or questions on my part, they congratulated me on the forward thinking of that mindset and told me they thought it necessary as well as crucial in reconstructing the culture’s attitude toward the importance of what we do. That really blew me away but it gave me the courage to lay it out just like I wanted it. It reminds me of what Neil says, that people treat you like you train them to treat you. It is true in this case. If we think our services are robust enough to create the need for a paid vacation, then the clientele will rise to that attitude!

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Laurie Richards, Nebraska

We talked in our meeting about how it’s all in your communication – you really only need to say “Effective [date] I am updating my policies to include X number of studio holidays per year. Tuition is prorated evenly throughout the year and will remain the same each month.” Or something like that. If you just state it without an apologetic tone, just as a simple fact, most people just accept it. In fact, not one teacher in our meeting had ever had an issue with any of their families when they did this. You deserve time off just like everyone else! And it’s your business; you set your own parameters that work for you so you don’t become burned out. Your students benefit in the long run.

We also had a discussion about how the families in all likelihood appreciate the week off as much as we teachers do!

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Terah W., Kansas

And they probably don’t mind the fact that they don’t have to change up what they are paying you. The pocketbook won’t ache, they get a break, and we get a rest. Everyone should be so lucky!

QuestionQuestion
Stephen R., California

Do you make policy changes effective January 1st or starting for Fall? Calendar year or academic year?

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Terah W., Kansas

I am thinking school year as folks are kind of readjusting everything then maybe even more than the first of the year. But I don’t think it really matters. What I like, though, is giving them a heads-up and taking the “surprise!” out of it by giving them a month or three advance warning. This is my thinking, anyway, for tuition rate raising and can’t think why it wouldn’t work for adding a vacation week instead.

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Maureen K., California

One kind of easy way to build in time off: I call my monthly fees “tuition”. I tell people that my schedule basically follows the local school district’s schedule. I actually teach students from several districts and private schools, so I picked one to follow, which conveniently for me, is of course my daughter’s school.

People are not then surprised that we have a week of fall break, two weeks at Christmas, a week for winter break, and a week for spring break. I do not however take summers off–I can’t afford that. So I run my studio differently in the summer, with special workshops and performances to give maximum flexibility, and still charge my normal tuition over the summer. I close the studio for two summer weeks and so get extra vacation there.

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Missy

Please take more than 2-3 weeks a year. You can do it! You will be better for it. I publish my entire schedule for teaching in my updated policies each new calendar year. This year I schedule six terms to include 12 weeks off. It’s awesome and boy have I needed it. My rates are the same every month.