Are you a parent and a student? Do you study at home with children around you? I was - and I needed some strategies!
Without a flexible approach, I wouldn't have been able to make it through my courses. A quiet environment, study materials in order, a good routine, and a high level of concentration, all things that facilitate study, didn't seem possible with children bobbing around. However, I used these five strategies to make studying around children possible for me:
Holding a homework club for you and the children - tell the kids the time of the homework club, pop a fun sign on the door (click below on 'homework club sign-2 for a free poster) and turn off the TV. Sit around a table together, spread out the paper and pens and enjoy studying together.
Being a child - embrace the little you! Allow yourself to do things that a child does, especially the things that you did well as a child. Did you doodle a lot? - then include doodles in your notes (you might want to find out about 'sketchnotes'). Did you enjoy using colours? - then make study mindmaps with the kids’ felt tips.
Not losing your rag when you’re interrupted. You may be fully focused on reading your textbook when a little one comes running in with a grazed knee, or you may be writing notes when the kids can’t find their shoes - “What now?? Not again! Can’t you see I’m studying?” - It’s ok to expect relative peace and quiet, but not allowing any interruptions is unrealistic and kind of unfair on the children. So stop briefly what you are doing, attend to their needs, and get back to study. If you’ve lost your flow and can’t get back to what you were doing, then switching tasks can be effective as a kick starter and a simple stress buster.
Studying for short chunks of time. Just because you’re an adult, doesn’t mean that you have to study ‘seriously’ for hours on end. Reading or writing for 25 mins, then taking a five min break is seen as an effective technique that’s good for the brain. Naturally you may need to reduce the time to 10 or 15 mins at a time, depending on your children, but studying in chunks does make tasks more manageable. Look up the ‘Pomodoro technique’ - the kids will love the red apple 🍎 timer and they’ll soon pick up this great time-management technique for themselves.
Varying your study activities according to the situation - you could produce a brainstorm of ideas for your next essay during ‘homework club’, or read four pages of the text book while the kids are playing in the garden; and why not write your essay draft once they’ve gone to bed? Just be flexible - be ready to chop and change. I used to sit with my kids sometimes while they were watching a film, and ‘lazily read’ my text book. I’d read a paragraph, highlight a few key points, and then glance up at the TV. This easy-going approach worked because I wasn’t pressuring myself to focus fully: I was just familiarising myself with the text and gathering ideas. It wasn’t the time for making detailed notes - that I would do early in the morning before the rest of the house was up and about, when my mind could fully focus. So list your activities (free download to follow) and explore when and where you can best accomplish each of them.
Studying with children around is certainly challenging - but it can be done. Using a combination of flexible approaches, like the ones above, you can get things done without too much stress. Give them a try - and let me know your thoughts in the blog. What works for you?
Don't forget to pick up your free homework club sign below.