It’s a common thing these days; more people than ever are taking classes while also taking care of their children. Going to school is not easy, and doing it as a parent is even more difficult. Still, if you have your sights set on that dream job which required more schooling, nothing should impede you from obtaining that goal.
Let’s face it, though. Back-to-school parents are not typical students. They have many more life responsibilities to juggle, like dealing with the kids, preparing dinner, being a dedicated spouse, and full-time jobs. When I decided to go back to school for my master’s degree, I was also working as a full-time teacher. At first, it was difficult to work and attend classes, but eventually I realized that I had to take a different approach to graduate school than the one I took during undergrad. Once I did that, everything came into focus.
To keep everything in order without driving myself insane, I had to become a master planner. Every moment of my day was planned to the “T.” Doing this helped me streamline my work schedule while I attended school. Parents who are interested in going back to school (undergrad or graduate school) will need to figure out an approach that works for them, like I did. And to help you figure out your approach I’ve listed the following 5 tips:
1) Plan Your Calendar
Schedule your classes while your children are in school: I, obviously, did the opposite (went to school after work). However, if you are a stay-at-home parent and your children are now in school, schedule your classes during their school hours. This will allow you to be available in the evening, when they are no longer in school.
Mark every quiz, test and project deadline on your calendar: On your first day of class, you will be given a class syllabus. In this syllabus are important dates that, if forgotten, will lead to failing the class. Trust me, I have missed a test date, and I cried for days. Don’t be that guy; write down all quiz and test dates and project deadlines in a student planner on the first day of class! It’s also a good idea to strategically plan out what days you will study and work on projects, so that you can safely plan other things and not worry about having enough time for school.
2) Student – Parent – Chef
Plan your weekday meals every Sunday: Sit down every Sunday and decide what you are going to make for dinner every night that week. Then go to the grocery store and stock up.
This will remove the “what are we going to eat tonight?” dilemma. There’s also this amazing invention at the grocery store called the rotisserie chicken; just in case you drop the ball one night.
3) Online Classes Are Convenient
Consider online classes: Online classes were my savior when I went back for my master’s degree. They allowed me to work on school from home and even during my break period at work.
If you are a working parent, online classes may be the best option for you, as well. Many major universities and colleges now offer several online courses; just ask the admissions department what online options are available for your chosen academic field.
4) Get Out of the House
Study at your college or local library: When I went back to earn my master’s degree, I felt like I couldn’t go study at my college’s library. I think it was because I was an online student.
However, sometimes I had a hard time studying for a test at home or at a coffee shop, so I manned up and went to the library. This is the best place for parents to go study when they can’t concentrate at home. Because there are no distractions at the library, you will get more done in less time.
5) Lead by Example
As parents, we know that leading by example is one of the best ways to teach your children lessons they need to learn. It makes it more fun for them as well. Children are natural observers and are constantly watching you, whether you realize it or not.
Another great idea for back-to-school parents; if your children have a homework hour at home, is to consider using that hour to do your own homework as well! Your kids will appreciate the quiet time and realize that homework isn’t just something they need to do – mommy and daddy do it too!