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Mixing School with Parenting: Bringing Your Education Home

Jul 13, 2011

Parents who return to school have a unique opportunity to utilize their coursework to connect with their families. Regardless of the subject area, there are countless ways for parents to bring their education home and engage their families in the content they're studying. The Education Insider looks at ten ways to translate classes at school into activities at home.

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By Jeff Calareso

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1. Science Lab

If you're taking a science course that involves a laboratory component, you can take those hands-on learning principles home. Creating a miniature science lab enables you to conduct simple experiments with your children. Don't be discouraged by experiments requiring fancy equipment; basic experiments with items you have on hand will reinforce your lab skills while engaging your children in practical science.

2. Critical Reading

Literature courses offer wonderful opportunities to bring your education home when you have children in middle school or high school. Suggest having your children read the same novel you're reading for class. You can discuss the book over dinner or on a special book night. This activity has the ancillary effect of helping you prepare for class discussions and formulate your own analysis of what you're reading.

3. Art Appreciation

When you take an art history class, you learn to analyze paintings, sculptures and other works of art. You can apply your newfound expertise by taking your family to a local museum. Act as their docent, showcasing your skills as you teach them about art. This experience not only enriches their appreciation of art, but also reinforces your understanding.

4. Business Analysis

Whether you're in a Master of Business Administration program or simply taking business courses, your schoolwork can be highly applicable at home. Look for opportunities throughout the day to discuss business concepts with your children. For example, you can note the psychology behind television commercials and how they encourage viewers to buy certain products. You may also discuss how the supermarket is structured to maximize profits and encourage impulse purchases.

5. Science Field Work

Many science fields, including biology and geology, will take you out of the classroom and into the field. Just as these educational adventures are a fun break from sitting behind a desk, they can be informative experiences for your family. Consider taking a hike to observe plant life, local wildlife or rock formations. You can help your kids to identify different species or rock types, thereby providing them with a deeper understanding of the natural world around them.

6. Accounting

While it may not seem like the most exciting field of study to take home, accounting offers genuinely useful activities that can be practiced with the entire family. Using the concepts you're learning in class, involve your kids in the process of budgeting. One project you can do is to replace their allowance with an expense and credit chart. They can earn money by performing chores, like vacuuming or washing windows; they can also be charged throughout the week for services you perform, like cleaning their rooms.

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7. History

When you return to school, you may study history or politics. While your lessons may not line up with what your children are learning in their school, you can look for connections between your respective areas of study. For example, if you're studying ancient Greece while your child is studying American history, discuss the ways in which the Founding Fathers were influenced by the Greeks; this might include discussions on the similarities and differences in how the governments were shaped.

8. Nursing

In studying nursing, you may learn a variety of health-related skills that are applicable to your home life. There are many aspects of your training that may benefit your family. Before you begin nursing school, you'll likely need to earn CPR certification. Consider having your family take a CPR class together. In addition to getting your family involved with your education, they'll learn an invaluable life-saving skill.

9. Culinary Arts

While the thought of more cooking at night after studying culinary arts by day may seem exhausting, it's often the reality for parents who return to school. As a student of culinary arts, you can practice your new techniques while cooking for your family. You can also teach your children the concepts you're learning in school, whether it's kitchen safety or stylized cake decorating.

10. Creative Writing

A creative writing class provides you with an outlet for artistic expression. It can also provide you with ideas for writing exercises you can take home. Encourage your kids to complete writing activities similar to those you may be doing for school. This can include journaling, experimenting with poetic forms or developing elements of short stories. You can further these activities by taking your children to an open mic event where you can listen or participate.

Students juggling parenting responsibilities can benefit from our tip on finding time for homework.

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