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When Students Are Parents: Finding Time for Homework

Being both a student and a parent presents unique challenges that students without their own children may not face. Among the most significant is finding time for homework while juggling parenting duties and other obligations. The Education Insider offers ten ways parents can carve out necessary study time.

By Jeff Calareso

working mom parent student

#1 Prioritize

When you have kids, there are multitudinous demands on your time. In order to get through your homework, make a list of everything, both schoolwork and non-schoolwork, that needs to get done. Prioritize the list, noting which items may have seemed essential but could wait or be skipped. For example, a project around the home may not be as urgent in the context of homework, parenting duties and other work obligations.

#2 Set a Schedule

Once you have a prioritized list, establish a schedule for checking off items based on when they need to be done. For your homework, work backwards from the due date to ensure you provide yourself with adequate time.

#3 Know Your Strengths

As you consider your homework schedule, think about when you're at your strongest academically. If you concentrate best early in the morning, then that's the time to focus on homework. For some parents, the best time to concentrate is when their children are asleep, either in the morning or at night.

#4 Maximize Dead Time

As a parent, you may have substantial dead time. You should always have your homework with you in order to maximize time that would otherwise be wasted. For example, if you need to drive your kids to school or sports practice, you may be able to get work done by listening to audiobooks in the car.

#5 Rearrange Buffer Time

If you find that you have too little dead time between one part of your day and the next to get any homework completed, consider how your time is laid out. You may have only ten minutes between one obligation and driving to school to pick up your kids, then just ten minutes while you wait for them to emerge. If you rearrange your time so you get to school earlier, you could have 20 minutes, which might be enough to make a meaningful dent in your homework.

#6 Assess Your Time

A good way to identify where you can find time for homework is to better understand where your time goes throughout the week. For several days, log your time on a chart. Include the most minute details, like time spent driving or surfing the Internet. This assessment may help you identify windows of time you didn't realize you had. It may also encourage you to better allot your time simply by focusing on it so precisely.

#7 Minimize Television

When you return to school, you may need to consider trimming enjoyable but nonessential parts of your day. This may include television or Internet time. This can be a difficult sacrifice if you spent time watching television with your kids before returning to school. However, what was television time can become ideal homework time.

#8 Multitask Over Meals

If you previously spent your breakfast or lunch watching television or reading the newspaper, consider sitting in front of your homework. You may be able to complete reading assignments or review class notes during meals. It's still important to spend quality time with your family, so you might want to keep dinner, or another meal when everyone is together, as family time.

#9 Get Out of the Home

Sometimes the best way to make time for homework is to study in a neutral environment. The distractions of working at home, including interruptions from children, can make completing homework at home inefficient and frustrating. If childcare is available, try working at a coffee shop, library or empty classroom at your school.

#10 Reward Yourself

If you find that you're mentally and physically drained from parenting and homework, be sure to reward yourself for your efforts. Building in periodic time to recharge will help you get back to both your kids and your schoolwork once you're refreshed and energized. You can reward yourself with something elaborate, like a trip to the spa, or something simple, like ice cream or a movie.

Many parents are maximizing their time by taking classes online, which offers numerous benefits with a busy schedule.

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