I am often asked what is the “right” number of families to have in a great childbirth class? The answer is not so simple. There are many things to consider and I imagine that every experienced educator may offer up a different answer.
For in person classes, the educator must look at the size of the classroom space, number of bathrooms, and layout of other common areas that might be available to students. The number of people should fit comfortably in the space, with no sense of crowding and lots of personal space to practice physical coping skills and positions. They should also consider their teaching style, intended activities, available supplies and if this class focuses on a particular subgroup of expectant families.
For virtual classes, while physical space is not a constraining factor, there are other things to consider such as the meeting platform you are using, your (and your students) internet bandwidth, (too many people may create a lag or delay), the type of virtual activities you are offering along with your teaching style and comfort level teaching online.
For new educators, starting off smaller may feel more “do-able” as you try many activities for the first time, and acclimate to teaching. But too small can make it awkward, and if a family is unable to attend that week, revisions may need to happen for the planned activities. Too big can feel hard to manage, and make it difficult for you to get to know your class members. Finances are not to be disregarded, as every educator has expenses and an earning goal that they would like to (and need to in many cases) reach.
Consider what kind of “vibe” you are going for and what your families are looking for. Does your ideal audience want small and intimate, or would they prefer a larger, diverse group from which to create community. Don’t be afraid to be flexible, especially when you are starting out. This gives you a chance to determine exactly what feels right to you. And of course, you can modify this to suit the needs of yourself and your target market at any point.
My answer to the question of what is the “magic” number of families in a childbirth class is 12 or 18. In person, I love having 12 families, and online, with a bit more capacity to accommodate additional people, I love 18! Indeed, I find that there is magic in these numbers because both of them can be split into several smaller groups. For example, 12 can be broken out into groups of 2, 3, 4, or 6, while 18 makes nice groups of 2, 3, 6, or 9. This allows me the flexibility to conduct different sorts of activities that increase learning, offer opportunities to build community and still feel totally manageable to me as an instructor and provide me with an opportunity to connect with the people in my classes.
What is *your* magic number of families to have in your childbirth classes? Let us know in the comments below. We invite you to join Childbirth Education Project for any of our amazing workshops where we share so much valuable insight about becoming a childbirth educator or help you to refresh your classes and take them to the next level.