Paving the Way for Learning Parents

Working mothers are not a problem
The phrase "back to school" doesn't only apply to children. More and more adults are hitting the books, too. The difference is that for adult learners, "back to school" may have been years (perhaps even decades) in the making. Tots also don't have to manage spreadsheets after putting their parents to bed.

Many employers already know that continuing education benefits more than just the employee. There's overwhelming evidence that employees who engage in adult learning are happier, more productive, and more loyal. Many companies, as a result, actively support their employees with tuition assistance programs. Still, managing work and life can be overwhelming, especially when children are involved. Successfully completing those degrees is in everyone's best interests. So fully engaging these ambitious folks is going to require tuition assistance, educational guidance'and moral support.

Tips for Working Parents?Going Back to College or Grad School

A few tips you might want to share with your future learning parents:

  • Be Up Front: Don't be afraid to share nervous feelings about going back to school or to ask for the family's help in managing responsibilities. Families can be incredible resources for practical and emotional support.

  • Delegate Personal Responsibilities: Enlist all hands among family. Think about what can only be done by you; then start delegating the load.

  • Build Support Systems: Free up time for studying by scheduling weekly playdates for children with another family. Get study time with help from grandparents. Look to back-up care and sitters for evenings when you have a mid-term coming up. Reaching out for support ensures both time to study and confidence of being well-prepared.

  • Embrace Shortcuts: Using grocery delivery or making meals ahead of time in a slow cooker can save hours. Giving older children chores helps them feel important and involved; it also teaches about responsibility and the great feelings that come from helping others.

  • Make it a Family Affair: When kids sit down to do homework, join them and work on assignments together. Seeing a parent engage in learning sets a powerful example for a child; show them, don't tell them that you value of curiosity, engagement, persistence, and hard work.

  • Collaborate at Work: Actively explore how you can incorporate learning into your job. Discuss curriculum with managers, and look for ways to combine work and school projects. Actively seek opportunities to apply lessons from school, and don't be shy about sharing new things.

    Remember: returning to school builds work skills for today and tomorrow.

  • Hang In There: Going back to school as an adult learner and working parent can be daunting. But the benefits, for both career and family, can be tremendous. On the hardest days, remember that all the hard work will deliver an accomplishment that everyone ' employees, family, and employer ' will benefit from.

The Bottom Line: Supporting Your Adult Learners

For working parents going back to college or another higher ed program, it's not unusual to feel that there are never enough hours in the day. Going back to school, while an exciting opportunity, can seem like an overwhelming challenge when combined with existing responsibilities. Remind employees there are simple ways to make the 'back to school' adjustment easier for everyone'and to prepare for success as an adult learner.
Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Working mothers are not a problem

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