Posted by Christy Williams on January 14th, 2016
Adult learners often have a number of roles and responsibilities outside of the classroom. In addition to classes and study time, adult learners may have jobs, children and other commitments that they are required to give attention to. For some learners the idea of school-life balance may be a lofty goal. As an adult educator, you have the ability to encourage and support your students towards achievement of school-life balance. Areas of attention include organization, time management, list making, self-care and support systems.
With so many responsibilities, organization will be the crux of your learners’ school-life balance. Students should start by establishing a routine. Assigning a place, time and order to everything will help activities run smoothly and ensure that important things are not misplaced or overlooked. You may even specifically recommend that your students have a set area for all of their school materials to eliminate common displacement concerns.
Time management is a significant component in successful school-life balance. Encourage your students to utilize calendars to keep track of important dates, deadlines and activities. Larger projects and assignments can be broken down into smaller chunks and spread out over time so that students are not overwhelmed all at once. If possible, have students use appointment calendars. This will allow them to assign duration to tasks and activities. This tool can also be used to track where time is wasted. Scheduling is necessary for study time, family time, exercise and more. Electronic calendars, such as Google and Microsoft Outlook, include reminders that will alert learners of upcoming tasks.
Creating weekly lists can be helpful towards achieving school-life balance. Lists allow people to see everything they need to accomplish in one place for the week and check them off as they are completed. An added layer of organization would be to prioritize the lists according to importance or due date.
Self-care is a necessary component of school-life balance. In the midst of everything going on, it is easy to forget about taking care of yourself. Encourage your students to develop good self-care habits such as getting enough sleep, exercising, eating balanced meals and making time for themselves during the day (even if it is a short break). The ability to self-monitor stress levels is important, too. Finally, encourage students to have fun, reward their selves as necessary and learn to say “no” when life becomes too overwhelming.
Enrollment in educational programs can put tremendous strains on individuals and relationships. Forming and utilizing a strong support system will help students manage stress and life commitments. Students should discuss their expectations with family and friends. During these discussions students can work with their support systems to set schedules including “do not disturb” time and availability. This is a good time to divide duties as they relate to children and home care.