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The Student Parent and Childcare: Managing Children and College Activities

By Layla Abdullah-Poulos ’10, student, School for Graduate Studies

October 14, 2014

books and notebooks on a table with children's things Parenting involves a lot of time and energy, so college students with children face unique challenges. In addition to planning and managing their studies, they must consider the numerous needs and activities of their offspring. An important concern of many college student parents is the coordination of childcare with their college activities.

While Empire State College students may not be attending weekly classes, typical of college courses, visits to their center or unit during the term to collaborate with mentors, take a study group, receive academic support or get assistance from student services is necessary. For student parents who are the primary caregivers of their children, lack of consistent childcare can present an obstacle to attending sessions with mentors and valuable workshops. However, with careful planning and knowing the different options available to confer with faculty and staff, it is possible for parents to give both their children and their studies the required attention.

Mother of five and Long Island Center student Baiyina Abdel-Jaleel was asked how she arranges to meet with mentors and attends workshops and tutoring sessions. “A lot of times I schedule them for when they are in school. I work my schedule around their schedule.” On occasion, Abdel-Jaleel has needed to bring one or two of her children with her to a meeting, but she found the mentors considerate and genial. “I have really understanding professors. I haven’t had any kind of issues when I had to bring them.” However, she cautions to discuss bringing children with the course mentor. “I would definitely ask first.” Abdel-Jaleel said. Long Island Center mentor Frances Boyce agrees that if necessary, students should bring their children. “This is adult education; we deal with adult situations. Bringing your kid isn’t a bad thing. It is better than no meeting.” It is important for all students to maintain communication with mentors and learning support in the way that best enables them to engage their studies and fulfill the needs of their children.

Sometimes student parents are unable to attain childcare or bring their children with them to the center. In these instances, the communication alternatives afforded to Empire State College students are particularly helpful. Abdel-Jaleel said, “If I can’t make it in, I will do a phone conference or email.” Abdel-Jaleel also takes advantage of her center’s academic services phone and online options and said that she found the ability to have an online or telephone tutoring session helpful. “It is beneficial when you need to talk to someone and get the work done.” Student parents with the necessary technology, a phone/cellphone and a laptop/computer (with internet access), can stay in contact with instructors and staff during the term.

The need for childcare can be problematic for college student parents. Fortunately, students can utilize the flexibility of faculty and staff and Empire State College’s variety of communication choices to help accomplish term goals while they care for their children.

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