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Tips for single parents going back to school

Children are not the only ones who experience back-to-school excitement and jitters. Divorced parents do too, especially if they have been a stay-at-home mother or father for years and need to brush up on their skills before looking for a job.

As the workforce and employer expectations change, many people go back to school to learn new skills and become more proficient at existing ones. Doing so when you are a single parent has its own set of challenges, but with some extra planning and willingness to ask for help, it’s certainly doable. Here are some tips for making it work so you can become financially independent and give your kids the best life possible.

Be flexible

If your children are not yet school age, then enrolling in classes that require you to be physically present in a classroom will probably not work for you right now.  Look into online universities that allow you to schedule studies and homework around your existing obligations. Distance learning enables busy parents to achieve a desired certification without having to wait until their children are more independent.

Make learning a family endeavor

If your kids are old enough to have a nightly homework load, then consider sitting down and doing your own homework along with them. Not only will it set a positive example, it will also create a fun and engaging atmosphere of mutual support.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Single parents who want to go back to school are going to need a strong support network. Talk to your family and friends about any help you may need, whether it is with babysitting, educational resources or advice. Some colleges and universities even have dedicated groups specifically for single parents. If your school has one, then it can be an excellent source of encouragement, support, and camaraderie.

Don’t overdo it

You’re human, which means that you have limits. Unless you take the time to relax and recharge your batteries, it will be next to impossible to juggle your often-conflicting responsibilities as a parent and a student. When you exhaust yourself, retaining information will difficult, too. Give your children the care they need, but don’t forget to be equally attentive to your own needs.

Don’t feel guilty

If they’re used to having you at home at the time, then your kids may complain or act dissatisfied if you suddenly start going to school and leaving them with a babysitter, even if only for a few hours. Try not to take it to heart. Instead, let them know that you’re learning things that will help give them a better life. Even if they don’t understand immediately, they soon will, especially once they see that your absences are not a form of abandonment.

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