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Phoenix Forward

How to tell your kids you’re going back to school

Going back to school

You decided to go back to college, picked a challenging program and enrolled in the courses. You’re all set to get your degree and improve your life, except for one little thing: You still have to figure out what to say to your kids.

Going back to school is a big decision that will affect everyone in your household. Here are some tips on how to best approach the subject with the youngest members of your family:


Discuss what will change.

“Sit down with your kids and be open and honest with them about how their world is going to be impacted by your going back to school, and why you are doing it,” advises Lori Schieffer, middle school principal and instructor in the elementary education program at University of Phoenix.

“Get out a calendar and map out a typical week, including the hours when you are going to school and the times you are going to devote to studying,” Schieffer suggests. “Kids want to know how their lives are impacted.”


Let them know they are still top priority.

“Children can become afraid when there are changes,” Schieffer explains, “so it’s important to let them know that you are always their mom [or dad] first, and that that’s your priority.”


Give them an opportunity to voice their opinions.

“Have a family brainstorming session, where you let the kids have input into how the family can best handle this new commitment Mom [or Dad] is taking on,” Schieffer says. Solicit their opinions with questions like, “Do you think I can study at home, and you can give me quiet time for two hours? Or should I go to the library to study when another adult is here?”

“Letting kids take ownership of the situation provides a way to hear their concerns and acknowledges that they’re a part of the family,” Schieffer says.


Give them more responsibility.

Be a positive reinforcement for your kids, letting them know that you can count on them to handle this new challenge, and that you may need them to take on new responsibilities for the family, such as picking up after themselves or doing dishes or laundry, depending on their ages.

“Giving children responsibility makes them feel more important, too,” Schieffer adds.


Use it as a teaching moment.

Take the time to explain your goals and how education is helping you meet them, Shieffer encourages.

“Your decision to go back to school is a great way for you to model for your children how to set goals,” she adds. “You are telling your child, 'You can do anything you want to do if you set your mind to it.'”

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