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You’re juggling a lot. You’re both a parent and a student, and between studying, taking care of the house, and managing childcare, you feel like you may not be spending enough time on the deeply important things. You’re afraid you’re not connecting enough with your children. Adult Learning Theory is a theory that focuses on how adults receive information.

Programs For Parents

Does that sound familiar? If you have kids and you’re an adult learner, it might. But when you worry about the impact of your educational pursuits on your children, don’t forget an important point: by tackling your academic activities head on, you’re setting an example that will help your children build their own success in the future.

Most parents learn fairly quickly that children are great imitators, and that they will follow the examples set by the adults in their lives — often in surprising ways. Their minds are sponges, absorbing everything they observe, encounter, or experience. This makes childhood an unequalled time for teaching your kids important life lessons. At Point University, we take into consideration education programs for parents who are pursuing nontraditional educations.

So how can you take full advantage of this teaching opportunity? We recommend a few steps:

  • Talk to your kids about the importance of education, and use yourself as an example. If you’re going back to school to advance your career, talk about the ways in which various educational paths can help them in their future vocation. If you’re seeking personal enrichment, discuss why learning makes life more rewarding and helps you understand the world in which you live. And make sure you live out those values in your own academic life. Your children will learn how to delight in their education, to see the positive in it regardless of its challenges, from you. They’ll learn more by watching than by listening.
  • Demonstrate your values. As you take on these new academic obligations, you’ll teach your kids courage. As you continue down your educational path, you’ll teach them perseverance. And as you open yourself to help from your family and friends, you’ll teach them grace. When your children see you exuding the qualities you hold most dear, they’ll internalize those lessons.
  • Teach your children the value of asking for help. This one’s important enough to say twice — when you undertake a difficult task, you’ll need support, and it’s wise to ask for it right from the beginning of your endeavor. At Point, for instance, you could ask your advisors for help setting realistic goals and overcoming your personal academic roadblocks. You could take advantage of the Writing Center when you’re under the gun with a deadline. When you ask for and receive help, you’re giving your children the opportunity to see the best in other people. You may even be teaching them to trust you with their problems — and, especially as they grow older, trust is vital to encourage.
  • Explain how to keep life in balance. You’re juggling the varied demands of work, school, and family — and that’s a heck of a balancing act. Your kids will see you do this, and you have the chance to show them how you manage your stress and obligations. Make sure you take time to show the importance of proper diet, regular exercise, and other forms of self-care while you fulfill your responsibilities, and while you’re at it, explain to your kids why you’re making those choices. You’ll be setting a good example not only in academics, but in healthy living.
  • Handle your stress without taking it out on others. You’re busy, overworked, and stressed — and as every parent knows, kids are experts at pushing your buttons. It’s easy to snap or even get very angry when exhaustion sets in. However, take those opportunities to show your kids a more mature way of dealing with stress and frustration by utilizing appropriate communications strategies and polite-yet-firm language.
  • Expose your kids to the joys of the written word. A love of reading starts in childhood, and any opportunity to interest your kids in books is a good one. You’ll likely be doing a lot of reading for your coursework. While it can get tiresome, it’s also a chance for you to show your kids that reading can be rewarding, and to teach them a bit about enjoying books on their own. Kids who read do better in both academics and life, so take these moments to heart, so make it a point to show your kids that you enjoy it, answer their questions, and help them with their own reading. A little bit goes a long way toward raising a lifelong reader.
  • Set an example in how to handle criticism. In school, there are occasional bumps in the road. When you get negative feedback on coursework or an assignment, you have a chance to show your kids how to accept criticism, the differences between constructive and destructive approaches to it, and the ways in which you respond to it productively. They’ll have to deal with plenty of criticism in both school and life, and setting a positive example early on is a great way to help them learn to cope.
  • Show your children that learning is a life-long affair. By going back to school, you’re proving that anyone can learn at any age, and that learning as an adult brings mental and spiritual benefits. This is a powerful moment; you’ll be influencing your children’s behavior and attitudes decades down the line. A love of learning is a life-long gift to them.

Never underestimate the value of your choice to pursue higher education on your children. Leading by example is more powerful than simply lecturing; your decision to go back to school gives you an amazing opportunity to enrich your children’s lives with the choices you’ve made. By going back to school, you’re not short-changing your kids. You’re leading them toward their best selves.