“Engagement” indicates keeping parents/students who have registered (for example, registered in May for summer programming) engaged to ensure they will show up on Day 1.


Here are some strategies to ensure strong retention among registered students and families:

Formal written communication

  • Newsletters: these could include countdowns to program start date, reminders, event calendar, and answers to frequently asked questions Check out a template here for newsletters.
  • Flyers: send home full color flyers with pictures of last summer’s program, student quotes, contact information, and the program start date.
  • Personal letters/notes: handwritten letters may be a good way of connecting with hard-to-reach parents.
  • Birthday and/or Holiday Cards: Cards should be personalized, and handed to students, placed in their backpack, or mailed to students’ homes. Possible holidays to consider: Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fools Day, Memorial Day. Need a birthday card template to help a student celebrate their special day, while reminding them about summer? Check out our birthday card template here.
  • Emails: duplicate any flyers or notes sent home via email; email can also be a tool for answering parent questions and sending event invitations.
  • Direct postal mailings: important programmatic materials can be sent via mail.


Personal face-to-face or phone call conversations are important to keeping students and families engaged, after they‘ve registered.

  • Informal check-ins: program staff can use pick-up and drop-off times at school (or afterschool program) to check-in with students and parents.
  • Parent-teacher conferences can be utilized to remind parents about the summer program.
  • Check-in phone calls: these can come from administrative or program staff and should remind parents of the summer program and answer any questions.
  • Text messages: send brief reminders to parents through text, such as program start day and what to bring for Day 1 of programming.

Fun incentives

Incentives can be a fun way to connect with a student, and to simultaneously reinforce their commitment to your summer program. Check out a sample logo here of a local summer program. This logo was placed on T-shirts provided to students and also placed on sunglasses provided to students in spring (before Day 1 of summer programming). Both the shirt and sunglasses were distributed through each child’s school in the spring, but could have just as easily been distributed at a central event to remind them about Day 1 and build excitement.