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Jennifer BrownTime for School, Mom!

10 Tips for Managing School and Children

by Jennifer Brown

Returning to school as an adult can be daunting enough, particularly if you’ve been out of the academic atmosphere for some time. You’re faced with adjusting to changing curriculums and testing procedures, competing in a younger crowd, learning skills (such as computer literacy) that were not available when you last attended school, and juggling work and study.

Add to that a hungry family, dishes that need to be done, PTA meetings to attend, a pile of laundry you can’t even see the top of, and…well, maybe you’ll
go back to school next year. Right? Wrong. While the idea of juggling children and school may seem impossible to an overworked mom or dad at first
blush, with a little organization and a few tips, managing children and a new college career can be easily conquered. Following are ten strategies to help you get into the swing of things.

  • Finding a reliable babysitter is the first order of business when considering a return to school. Now is not the time to stick to old allegiances. If Grandma is eager to sit with the grandkids, but is almost always late and sometimes forgets to show up at all, go with another sitter you can count on. Choose someone you can trust to arrive on time every school day or give you enough notice to make alternate plans. Try to stick with the same babysitter every night to avoid scheduling conflicts and last-minute confusion that might keep you out of class.

  • Attend a campus close to home if at all possible. If your first choice of campus is an hour away, it may not be the best choice for you. If you live
    five minutes away from an acceptable second choice, go with that school. Emergencies do happen, and if you’re called away from class, the last thing you want is a long drive to get to your child who needs you. If your babysitter shows up late, a short commute can be the difference between showing up in the middle of class and not showing up at all.

  • Search for a scholarship designed for returning students with children. The money is sitting out there waiting for you to claim it. Many campuses have computers set aside in their financial aid offices equipped with programs specifically designed for students to search for scholarships that fit their needs. The Internet is another great tool for finding a scholarship that’s right for you. The extra money can help if you need to miss work or pay a babysitter while attending classes.

  • Study when you can, not when you want. This could be the difference between success and failure for many returning students. “I simply don’t have time to study,” you might say as you quit after just one semester. “The kids are too loud and too needy.” Soccer camp gets in the way. Or dance lessons. Or Scouts. It’s just such a fight to get in any study time!

    So don’t fight it. If you have young children, spend your time with them doing the things you would normally do. Try to forget about that Physics test or English Literature paper that’s due the next day. Attempting to concentrate on work while the children want to play will only frustrate you and your child, and you won’t retain a lick of what you’ve studied. Study before or after bedtime, at lunchbreak, or while the kids are in the bath. Invest in a cheap tape recorder to tape your lessons and review them in the car on your way to work or the grocery store. You may only get thirty minutes here and there of good study time, but the minutes will add up.

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