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Adult Learner Skills

Learners with Children

Adult learners usually work either full-time or part-time, are raising a family, and taking courses part-time. Many students find it challenging to juggle all these activities, especially when trying to combine effective study time while having children underfoot. The following strategies come from students who are parents, so that adult students with children can parent effectively while pursuing success in their academic studies.

  • Setting routines for their children and themselves will assist adult learns with children in planning their studies.
  • Studying before children get up in the morning or after they go to bed at night.
  • Scheduling children's nap times, and studying while they are napping.
  • Setting a study time (say, 6-8 in the evening). Then explaining that study time is very important, and that playtime will be before and after study time.
  • With older children, having a "family study time" and taking study breaks as a family.
  • Organizing study time around children's favorite TV show times, during pre-planned play times with their friends, or while they are gone to outside activities.
  • Playing during study breaks to take a break and play with children. This is a mutually beneficial strategy. 

  • A more organized study space will lead to greater academic achievement.
  • Creating a "child-safe" room where nothing can be broken or pulled down and studying in here with their children, so that they do not have to monitor their children too closely. 
  • Planning for play. Creating a list of special games and activities for kids that only happen while studying. Children will come to associate this special fun with study time.
  • Having surprise events for children while studying. Having a surprise event will create more positive associations with study time.
  • Using technology. A child is less likely to be a distraction of they are distracted by T.V., tablets, or other devices.

  • Schedule study times around a spouse's availability. Letting them take the kids out for activities or take care of their meals.
  • Ask for support from parents, siblings, other extended family members, friends, block parents, and classmates to take care of their children during specific scheduled study periods when they are studying at home. Do not over-rely on a single person for help.
  • Make child-sharing arrangements with other adult students so each student has some distraction-free time to study.
  • Car-pool with other parents with children in the same activities as your children. Spreading the responsibility will lead to more time to study.
  • Encourage the socially engaged child. There are various community-sponsored clubs for children, as well as many kinds of extra-curricular sports activities they can become involved in. Such services can free up some time for studying.
  • Take children to participate in activities at a local public library. This can create more child-free time to study.
  • Support children in finding neighborhood playmates. The children can play while the adult learner studies.
  • Studying should be made a priority, but children come first.
  • Set time aside for children before they go to school and when the parent gets home from work. Even a few minutes of focused time can meet their needs. Showing physical affection and other forms of care is essential.
  • Try to set some time aside to help them with their homework. They may reciprocate this support.
  • Explain the need for their cooperation in things school-related like study time.

  • Try not to get discouraged. Unexpected changes in plans and the need to re-frame objectives are a part of being a student. Stay optimistic!
  • Make allowances for interruptions and disruptions. Don't get hung-up on a distraction or disruption causing a change in plans.
  • Think ahead for the kind of studying that can be done during times when large blocks of uninterrupted studying are NOT going to happen.
  • Commit to retaining some piece of information, despite distractions. 
  • Study in public places. Lots of time is spent on public transit, coffee shops, etc. Take advantage of that time.


Dickson, K., & McDonald, J. (2020, April 24). Studying in the Child Zone. Https://Counselling.Athabascau.Ca/.