It’s not just back to school time for all the kids in British Columbia, it’s back to school for plenty of adults, too.
It’s an exciting time—new book bags, fresh highlighters, extra-large travel mugs—but it’s also a busy time. And what happens when you’re juggling multiple returns to the hallowed halls of learning?
How do you manage being an adult learner who is also a parent to school-aged kids?
It can take what feels like a feat of magic to successful manage a family schedule, with school just one item on a list that also includes work, medical appointments, sports games, study groups, charity bake sales, carpools, and on and on and on.
But if you’re an adult learner with children who’s heading back to school this September, rest assured there’s a way you can make it all work, for both you and your kids.
Find alternate after-school activities for the kids
If you’re the one who normally collects your children after school or who whisks them away to their lesson at some place on the other side of town, then you may need to shake up what happens after school for your kids.
That could mean enrolling younger kids in an after-school programs (check your school district and city websites for information) or arranging for them to go to a classmate’s house any day your own classes run later than theirs.
Take evening and weekend classes
As an adult learner, you have more flexibility in your learning schedule than your kids do. At Coquitlam Continuing Education, we offer evening and weekend classes, as we recognize the challenges our students can face in setting their schedules.
There are evening and weekend time slots for our upgrading courses and English-language classes, as well as for our Diploma and Certificate programs. Get in touch with us to find out what’s on offer each semester.
If your family’s combined schedules are too hectic and unpredictable to allow for regularly scheduled courses, you also have the option to study online. Online learning allows you to completely set your own school schedule, while also providing the in-person support you need through visits to campus when needed for study or instructor support.
Schedule quality time together
Working out the realities of school, work, and activity scheduling is just the practical aspect of what it means to go back to school as a parent of kids. Enrolling in a certificate program or an upgrading course also means time away from your family.
It’s important to focus on your studies when you are at school, and it’s equally important to make time to focus on your family when you are at home—not just on all the gritty details required to make life run successfully. Among the night classes, soccer meets, and math competitions, make sure to pencil quality family time into your schedule.
You can turn Thursday evenings into family date night with a film and a special favourite meal, or designate Sunday afternoon as pool time. To give everyone something to look forward to, you can take advantage of upcoming local events to carve out special time well in advance—maybe sign you, your kids, and Fido up for the Paws for a Cause walk at LaFarge Lake in Port Coquitlam, or get every family member to write down their top Culture Day event in the city.
Stay focused on your goal
If you’re an adult learner who is also a parent, then the reality is that you will have less unscheduled time than your classmates who aren’t. But that doesn’t mean they have an advantage over you.
You know what you’re giving up to be here, back at school, taking that next step on your new education and career path—and that means you make every minute count. To be here, you’re giving up time with your kids, but you’re also showing them what it means to follow your dreams and improve your future, even if it means making sacrifices in the meantime.
There’s no doubt it’s a challenge, but there’s also no doubt it’s entirely possible: keep your eye on the prize, map out your family schedule, and pencil in plenty of snuggle time with the kids.