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Going Back to School? How to Tell Your Kids

Oct 23, 2013 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

Fall is back to school season—and not just for the kids. Every year, millions of parents go back to school to get your a degree online. And while you’d think communicating about it with your family would be easy, it isn’t always. Kids might not understand why you’re suddenly more busy than you used to be—or why grown-ups need to go to school at all. Here are a few tips for talking to your kids about your decision to resume your education.

Be honest about changes

As much as you might wish it won’t, your new schedule is going to have an impact on your kids. It might mean you won’t be able to spend as much time with your kids as you used to—or they might need to spend more time in day care than previously. Whatever your new schedule means for your family, let your kids know what to expect. Pull out a calendar and show them how their week will go—and times when you’ll be in class or studying.

Tell them why you’re doing it

Your kids might not have a full picture of your story. Tell your kids your reasons for going back to a traditional or accredited online school —whether that’s to get a better job, a promotion, or start a new career in a different field. Be honest about the mistakes you made in the past, as this is a great opportunity to emphasize to your kids the value of an education—and the consequences for leaving school early.

Be sure they know they’re still important

You might be spending less time with them while you’re in school—but they need to know that they’re still a big priority for you. Be sure to tell them what will stay the same—if an extracurricular activity is really important to one of your kids, for example, tell them how you plan to keep making it possible for them to participate.

Listen to them

Your kids will likely have something to say about your return to school. Be sure to give them the chance to talk about their own feelings and concerns—and do your best to listen to them. This way, they’ll feel like they’re an important part of this process—and get a clear demonstration of how important they are to you.

Get them involved

Maybe you’ll need your older child to look after the younger one while you study for an hour. Or maybe you’ll need both kids to pitch in more with chores. Instead of introducing a mandate, frame it as opportunities they have to help around the house and help the whole family move forward. Your kids will likely want to be involved—and will feel more invested in your education if they’re doing something to help you get it.

Help them understand the value of an education

Nothing drives this home like watching a parent make a big commitment to his or her own education. Be sure to help your kids understand the role education has played in your life—and the need you have to go back to school now. It’s also a great time to teach your kids about effective goal-setting.

Your new degree program could be inspiring—not just to you, but to your kids. As a parent, you have an opportunity to show your kids they can do anything they put their minds to—by doing it yourself. Bring them into the process and let them know you rely on them and value their opinion, and they’re likely to feel more engaged in your education—and their own.

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