Study strategies for parents
February 7, 2011 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Parents who had/have to study with young children around: what strategies did/do you use to help integrate the kids into your study sessions?

I work with firefighter recruits in an intense, physically and mentally exhausting 12 week training program. Trainees are typically out of the house 12 hours a day, come home dead beat and still have to put in a couple of hours studying most nights, and 6-8 hours of studying every Saturday and Sunday. Their spouses and older children can understand why the trainee is essentially unavailable to the family for 12 weeks, but little ones find it much harder. This in turn adds more stress to the trainee's life.

I want to hold a "Study Skills for Parents" session. One hint I found to enable a quiet, low key connection during study time is a special set of quiet toys that only come when mommy/daddy is studying. Some recruits told me that having their kids "help" when practicing knot-tying is good, too.

What worked for you? The idea is not to be able to get really concentrated studying done, but at least to be somewhat productive while sharing some time with little ones.
posted by angiep to Education (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I got up at 4 AM so that I'd have some quiet time to study before the kids got up, I was well-rested and studying went more smoothly than it would have if I'd stayed up late to do it. I went to bed when the kids did, so I had evenings to interact with them.
posted by mareli at 12:38 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

make a cheap, black and white, stapled together firefighter coloring book. have the recruits tell the kids that by coloring some pages they are "helping mommy/daddy with their homework."
posted by nadawi at 12:53 PM on February 7, 2011

Best answer: Not exactly quiet or low key, but can the smaller child hold flash cards for the parent?

Some small children like to be read to, so if the studying involves reading, the parent can snuggle with the child and read out loud all about the equipment maintenance or call procedures, or HR policies. Be sure to have plenty of water on hand for that, because reading out loud dries out your mouth.

For verbal kids, a third option is to have the small child watch age appropriate fire safety movies/videos with headphones on. Then every time the video needs to change, the kid can have 30 seconds to tell the studying parent what happened or what they learned.
posted by bilabial at 1:08 PM on February 7, 2011

I work at home, and have some of the same issues. I find it helpful to take a few minutes every hour or so to grab hold of the kid and pay her some attention. It's a small thing but it helps.

(Sounds like an intense program! My primary training was weekly 4 hour classes and some weekends spread out over a leisurely 8 months.)
posted by maniabug at 1:59 PM on February 7, 2011

I spent part of my time studying for my PhD qualifying exams by taking my then-toddler to the park for 2-3 hours at a stretch and reading while he climbed around on the equipment. It's a good antidote for helicopter parenting. During bad weather, things like McDonalds playland are an alternative. Yes, you have to be good at tuning out a lot of noise, but parenting is full of compromises!
posted by drlith at 2:54 PM on February 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you so much! I'll put all answers on my session handout, even those I haven't marked as best, so recruits can see which ones might work in their particular situation.

Thanks, nadawi for the colouring book idea -- we've got oodles of them as part of our community safety program and paper fire helmets, too. I'll give them out to all parents in our recruit class.

Any more ideas are very welcome and will be passed on.
posted by angiep at 4:33 PM on February 7, 2011

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