5 ways to fill your kids classes

Kid's classes are the lifeblood of my academy. If done right, your academy will thrive for its entire existence. Every year a new crop of kids is ready to start classes. Elementary schools and other sports always have kids; the same is true for martial arts. Before implementing the tactics I outline below, it's important to remember that new students may pour in slowly. It will take time for all your efforts to bear fruit. However, as long as you stay consistent, you will be rewarded for your hard work. Let's start by looking at five low-cost ways to market your kid's program.

1. Yard Signs 

Place yard signs at local elementary school entrances and exits. You can also place them at neighborhood entrances and exits. I don't recommend putting yard signs at intersections around town. A code compliance officer usually patrols the area and takes them up. Sometimes they will even fine you for putting them out. Do NOT leave your signs out indefinitely. Some will get taken up or blown away, but you should put them out for a short period, pull them up yourself, then put a new design out after some time. You can build up several versions and rotate them out at different locations. 

For general marketing purposes/brand awareness, make them funny and creative. 

Example 1

Example 2

To create a sense of urgency, advertise the number of spots left and frequently update until all spots are filled, then pull up your signs. We make a route for each day that we drive around using dry-erase markers to update the spots left manually. This is a lot of work, but it psychologically affects parents not wanting to miss out.


2. Public Events 

  1. Public School events 

There are two types of public school events - internal & external. External events are things like school carnivals, trunk or treats, etc. Internal events are things like career days & guest P.E. teaching. Career days are simple enough, and you can usually see them on the school calendar or call the school to ask when the next one is and how to register to participate. Guest PE teaching requires you to email the P.E. teacher and offer to guest teach for a day. 

  1. City/Town Events 

You can find these on your City, town, or province website. Once you find an event you want to participate in, you must fill out a vendor form and pay a small fee. 

When participating in external events, you should do an activity that attracts kids and their parents to your booth. For example, we take roll-up mats and a grappling dummy on which they can practice a throw or arm bar. For non-grappling arts, board breaking is excellent. It's also good to have a prize wheel. Prizes include t-shirts, rash guards, a free month, and gi. Since you can't bring all available sizes with you to the event, make them schedule a time to come in to redeem their prize. You should also have a lead capture form they can fill out. Below is a supply list of items you should have at public events. 

3. Private Events   

Hosting events at your academy is a great way to build community among students and families and build goodwill and academy awareness. In addition, you can hand out invites for your students to invite their friends. 

You can also couple public events with your private events by planning to have one within days of a public event that you're participating in. For example, when doing an internal public school event, you can give kids stickers with the day, time, and location of your event on them (we always make them put the stickers on their shirts as soon as they get them). For external public school events or city events, a flyer will do. 

Private Event examples:

  • Nerf Wars
  • Trunk or Treat
  • Parents Night Out
  • Ninja Warrior(obstacle course)
  • Birthday Parties
  • Philanthropic events (Toys for Tots, Food drives, Blood drives)

4. Google Business Page

If you have yet to claim your business on Google Business, stop reading this and do that now! If you have, continue reading. You should have been prompted to add keywords and cities you serve in your business settings. It's important to note that it's not just the keywords but also the combination. Example: kids self-defense, kids martial arts near me, confidence for kids, etc. You should also regularly add updates and pics to your Google Business Page. Doing this will up your ranking in Google searches. Whenever I add an update or pics on Google, I get several leads over the next few days.

5. Rack Cards

By placing rack cards at local businesses that will allow it, you can increase academy awareness and pick up a few new students along the way. It's best to place them at businesses that parents of elementary & intermediate school-age kids frequent - barbers/hair cutting, oil change shops, sandwich shops, etc.

Now it's time to start planning. 

1.) Find elementary & intermediate schools, neighborhoods, and businesses in a 5-mile radius.

2.) Visit each school's website to view the event calendar, or call them to ask about upcoming events or career days. It would be best to look at the school's PTA site. PTA's put together their events separately from the school's. 

3.) Look at your City's website to view their calendar to see if there are any upcoming events. 

4.) Design and order your marketing material

When designing yard signs, flyers/rack cards, it's the parent you're targeting. Generally, the ideal demographic is parents aged 32-45. They want their kids to be confident, active, and disciplined. In addition, they want to know their kids can protect themselves. 

5.) Order supplies for your events. 

6.) Start taking pictures of kids' classes to share on Google. Post these regularly. 

Public Event Supply List: 


Lead Capture forms

Calendar(to schedule trials)



Table Cover 


Grappling Dummy(Jiu Jitsu/MMA)

This one is unfilled, so you’ll need to buy filling



Roll Up Mats 

Prize Wheel

Retractable Banners

Marketing Cards/Flyers


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Casey Gray

KNECT founder, Owner at 360 Jiu Jitsu in Grand Prairie, TX, 3rd Degree BJJ Black Belt