When you have a family, how do you find a time or place to study? For a single parent or military spouse whose spouse has been deployed, the work-life balance is a lot more complicated and in many cases non-existent. What do you do when the children are running around and your spouse isn’t there to help? Is it possible to study when you have kids who are extremely active, in need of mental stimulation and often looking for attention? And when they don’t get it “stuff” happens.
It can be difficult to get some time alone to dedicate to reading or coursework. The truth is you may never get that alone time, unless you wait until they are sleep. So instead of yelling and trying to control your children, a better idea is to involve them.
Stress for most parents results from trying to control children through brute force or yelling. This drives the children into a higher state of anxiety or they simply shut down and stop listening to what you are asking of them. Most children are often self-centered. After all, they are learning their place in the world and still developing a sense of self-awareness. It is helpful to encourage them by building interesting activities. For example, if your child loves to draw, you can have them join you at your study table with their crafts. Make it fun by setting a theme or making it a game where there are rules to be followed like pretending you are now in “library hour”. Most children love to please their parents and when the children see you working, they learn the value of hard work. Don't forget that you are setting a good example for them in the long run.
Gather all Materials
Gather all your study materials and have your children gather the materials for the activity of their choice. Let them know that it has to be a skill-building activity that they can work on by themselves for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Since you are building your own skills, it’s only right that they learn the value in doing so too. Make sure that it is something that will engage them for the duration of study time. The activities can include but are not limited to art, puzzles, homework assignments, playing online educational games building Legos, sewing doll clothes or practicing handwriting, spelling, math, reading, etc.
Go to your permanent 'Study Zone'
Once all the materials have been gathered, you may all make your way to the permanent place of study. The Study Zone, as I like to call it, should be clean, with little to no distractions. The dining room table makes a great gathering place, not only for meals but also for these types of activities.
Rules, rules, rules. They set boundaries and teach children to respect their own space and the space of others. The Study Zone is a perfect place to instill these lessons.
It is important to establish that once everyone enters the zone, they are expected to work on their own activity, making as little disruption as possible. So if Maddie suddenly feels like she doesn’t feel like doing this today, she can be excused on the condition that she either takes a nap or does something productive that won’t be a distraction until everyone else is done studying.
Set time for Discussion
Discussion time is a great opportunity to teach them about the importance of goals. Talk about your goals and dreams. Explain to your kids what it is you are trying to accomplish with your work. Show enthusiasm and excitement and they will learn to respect what you are doing. Setting such an example will teach them that good grades and advancement come with hard work, and it is something worth appreciating. Encourage them to set their own goals. They will also become more confident and excited about their own work. Having these discussions will help build a deeper relationship among everyone involved and create a healthy, open environment. Track progress over time and celebrate accomplishments, big and small. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of positive reinforcement.