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Family Classes: Best Practices for Educating All Ages

Greg Shula

March 17, 2023

Yoga with Grandma. Mommy and Me gym class. A Father’s Day fishing lure workshop. Multigenerational classes are a powerful way to bring together people of all ages and expand the reach of your educational program. Whether it’s an entire course built for family participation or a special session that invites kids and adults to share in an experience, family classes help to establish your presence in a community. 

They also give families a reason to step away from their busy lives, put down their devices, and enjoy spending time together. That’s good for your program and your community. When you put your classes at the core of these positive experiences you create generations of satisfied learners who are likely to enroll again and again.

What Are Multigenerational Classes? 

A multigenerational or family class is any class that invites two or more members of a family to learn together. For programs that primarily serve school-aged children, these classes invite parents, guardians, or grandparents to join in on the fun. For programs that primarily serve adults, these classes could invite students to bring their parents or children along. 

If your program offers classes for children and adults, a multigenerational class can help grow both of those audiences.

If you already serve both groups, an intergenerational class helps unify your program. For example, the New York Theatre Workshop offers a program that pairs teens with seniors to collaborate on storytelling and playwriting. Classes like this can be especially useful if you’re hoping to grow one of these audiences. A family class could give parents first-hand experience, so they’re more likely to want to enroll in adult classes themselves. It could also show kids how much fun your classes are so they ask their parents to let them enroll on their own.

The Benefits of Family Classes

Family classes serve a much broader purpose than enrolling more students in your program. They help support the core mission of your organization and build a sense of community. The benefits include:

  1. Breaking down generational barriers. Family classes create an opportunity for children, parents, and grandparents to learn new skills together. There are few other spaces outside family gatherings where generations mix in this way.

  2. Giving families quality time together. Between school, careers, extracurricular activities, sports, and social commitments, it’s hard for families to spend quality time  together. Classes help fill that need by engaging generations toward a common goal.

  3. Building community. Classes can provide a space for families to meet and interact outside their routine social circles. When families feel connected to their community, they are more likely to become invested in it and contribute to its growth and well-being. To see this in action, read some first-hand accounts of the benefits gained when people took enrichment classes with a family member or friend. 

Adapt Classes to Support Multigenerational Learning

Almost any class can be adapted to accommodate a family structure. To do this successfully, consider the differing needs and interests of each group you’re inviting. For example, a lecture-style format might be fine for a class aimed at seniors, but if you’re inviting them to bring their grandchildren, you’ll need to break up the talking with movement and other activities. 

Here are some ways you can make your existing classes family-friendly.

  • Nature classes. Many families enjoy outdoor recreation. A class that helps them learn about their local environment can be both rewarding and practical. You might create a plant identification scavenger hunt, plan an easy hike, or help families create a customized list of trails they’d like to explore.

  • Language classes. Whether families are preparing for an international trip or wanting to connect with their ancestral roots, language classes are fun for students of all ages. Think about real-world scenarios a family might experience. For example, at a restaurant, how can they ask for a table for six, a booster seat, or a kid’s menu?

  • Music and culture appreciation classes. Whether it’s the Beatles, Russian literature, or fly-fishing, family members can bond over a shared cultural interest. Take care to  include cultural references and examples that speak to different generations. For example, the teens in the audience may not understand if you compare the Beatles to U2, but they’re likely to get the point if you say the Beatles were bigger than Taylor Swift. 

  • Arts and crafts classes. Needlework, basket weaving, drawing, painting, pottery—the options are endless. These classes can even play up the “family” element, with each family member contributing to a group project or making portraits of each other.

  • Wellness classes. The people we spend our time with impact our health, and families are likely to spend a lot of time together. Learning about stress, sleep, nutrition, or other health topics together can support wellness for the whole family. These classes could also be targeted for more specific concerns, such as teaching gluten-free recipes to support a family member’s dietary constraints.

  • Home improvement classes. From learning how to build a bookshelf to landscaping the backyard, the entire family can get involved in making their home more beautiful and comfortable.

  • Family history classes. Encourage family members to share stories and investigate their history. Each class can have a theme, such as “favorite travel story” or “memories from our first house.” As family members share their memories, they create a keepsake they’ll enjoy long after the class is over in the form of scrapbooks, recordings, or a written record. 

How to Start Offering Family Classes

The best way to offer classes that will appeal to local families is to ask them! Use surveys or social media platforms to ask your students about classes their families would be interested in. You can also connect with local community groups, such as PTAs, youth groups, and senior centers, to spot communal needs. For more ideas, check out our post on unusual classes to help inspire you.

You can start by offering a one-off family class to gauge interest, or designate one session of a regular class “bring your child/parent to class” day.

If family classes are new territory for your program, start small. Host a one-off class to get a sense of how family classes are different from your usual program offerings. Ask participants what they enjoyed and what adjustments they’d recommend. You could also offer a special family class within a larger course. For example, if you teach an adult improvisation course, you could designate one of the class meetings as a family class, with students bringing their children or parents for family-themed activities. 

Then, if it seems like building out a full family course would garner interest, add it to your course catalog and try it out. As with introducing any new class, market it in the right places to get the word out and reach multiple generations of students. Of course, don’t forget to feature these classes prominently on your website and highlight the new offering in email

Experiment to Find Out What Works for Families in Your Community

As you test out your family classes, keep in mind that they are likely to be more appealing at certain times of year than others—for example, during summer vacation, when students are off from school. Experiment to see what works best for families in your community.

Multigenerational classes make good gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and for other holidays as well.

People may be most likely to give the gift of parent-and-child or grandparent-and-child classes for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. But themed classes might also do well around Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter, or other holidays. 

Multigenerational classes can broaden your audience of prospective students, but that’s just a tiny part of their value. Ultimately, these classes are about offering positive experiences to families. This makes them the perfect forum for community building and strengthening relationships. 

Make your family classes enjoyable from the very beginning, with CourseStorm’s impossibly simple course registration software. We offer group registration and easy to use student profiles to make registration a breeze. Start your free trial today or contact us to learn more. 

Greg Shula

Greg has spent a decade analyzing business and marketing performance metrics of the companies he has worked with. He uses his analytical mind and investigative skills to find trends and simple answers from complicated data sets. Greg is also an amateur photographer who loves to capture nature from new perspectives.

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