How likely is it being a parent helps you to become a self-reliant student? – Guest Post By Stephen Holland

Our guest poster, Stephen Holland, is back with another post sharing how being a parent helps you become a more self-reliant student. If you enjoy this post, please share it with others.

Chances are very good, I think, that organizing children does indeed help anyone to become more self-reliant as a student. I submit as we organize others we ourselves become better organized. If we have any success at all in helping others to succeed, we ourselves must succeed. That is, to teach a lesson one has to first learn the content. To learn how to help children succeed, I think, especially adds to the challenge.

In my Composition I class, college students are now submitting their third essays. Quite often the topic choice to compare life before becoming a parent with life after becoming one is chosen. It is a favorite, for sure, and certainly draws upon personal experiences. Students who are parents often write that they are motivated in college because they find themselves more determined to be a good role model for their children, see the need to acquire more skills for career advancement, and are driven by a new-found sense of responsibility. Each of these is admirable, of course.

Most recently one young mother presented a unique twist to the thesis when she wrote that the self-discipline she demands of her children to succeed in their education she now applies to herself in her own college studies and, therefore, she is a better student for doing so. It is a practice what one preaches as an approach to being a student. It also warms the heart of instructors as we desire to see self-reliance in our students.

To explain, the student wrote that she sees value in limiting the number of hours her children are allowed to watch television. Rather she is determined that her children show her how much homework they have to do, discuss with her the day’s school lessons, and show her their progress. The children are now old enough and have study habits engrained enough that she says she herself has time to go back to school. With that, she admits she too has to limit her own TV viewing, work her own study habits, and even take time to discuss with the children what she is learning in college. In this day of electronic equipment screaming for our attention, these study habits are to be applauded.

Also, my student tells her children that their friends must go home at a certain time so that adequate hours for studying can be applied. Furthermore, the friends may not call for social visits either via phone or computer. I myself think this is very difficult as emails, phones, and text messages constantly ask us for attention. Of course, there are some family members and some friends who will always be immediately answered, but to have the discipline to not be distracted with every message alert is in my view another reason for applause. I wonder if the student also has the inner strength to pass on ice cream and chocolate cake. You know, we are only human. It just seems to be this type of discipline we want to be able to call upon, that when something tempting one loves is in front of him or her the power to resist comes into play.

Finally, my student noted that she has learned better reading habits too because of all the reading she did with her children. Of course, her reading these days are at a more advanced level. However, she learned to be patient with her children’s question, and now with her own. She also learned to answer their questions in depth for herself. She learned that children often bring to the same books new insights, and that repetition is valued, as well as, for her, note-taking. She reads through content at least twice for better comprehension.
So, it seems, my student has not only taught her children quality study habits, but surprised herself that in so doing was actually teaching herself to become a self-reliant student. How wonderful that my student gave me as a teacher insight into this family secret.

Steve Holland teaches English and Education classes online through the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC). In 2012, the ICCOC honored him as Teacher of the Year. He recently retired after 25 years of teaching with Eastern Iowa Community College, but he continues to teach and serve as an education consultant. He holds a B.A. in journalism, an M.A. in English, an Ed.S. in Education, and an Ph.D. in Education, all through The University of Iowa. He has also served as a judge for Softchalk’s annual Lesson Challenge.

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