Taking Baby To College Class
Attending college as a parent presents many unique challenges. As a parent, you want to provide the best life possible for your child, and most people will agree that that means getting an education that allows you to support your family financially. Committing to starting or continuing your education while parenting can be a challenge, but it can provide tremendous rewards as well.
One common problem that many parents experience is finding reliable childcare. Whether it is for school, work or even the occasional social event, finding someone to watch your baby can be a challenge. Finding someone available during the time you need them, consistently, can seem impossible.
Some tips for finding reliable childcare:
- Ask other parents
- Look online for recommendations
- Talk to your college
- Advertise for help
- Offer to trade childcare with another parent
- Negotiate with family members
The most reliable childcare provider may need the occasional day off. If your provider is a private individual, even a parent or other trusted family member, they may need the occasional day to take care of personal business, such as a doctor’s appointment.
If you are using a daycare provider that has multiple employees, you may think you can escape the need for making alternative plans. However, there are instances where you may find your daycare situation is not available. The weather may shut the daycare down, and many colleges are very slow to cancel classes.
Your child may be sick, or just getting over an illness. While you want to keep a truly sick child home, a baby that has been on antibiotics for a few days may be feeling fine, but the daycare may not want him back yet. The flip side is, if many children at the daycare are passing around a bug, you may decide you would rather keep your baby away for a few days.
Regardless of the reason, there may be a time when you may find yourself taking baby to college class with you. There are a few things you can do to make this situation a little easier for you, your baby and everyone else involved.
1. Talk To Your Professor
Before taking your baby to a college class you should discuss it with your professor. While many professors want you to do whatever is necessary to attend class and are perfectly fine with the occasional visit from your baby, others may not find it acceptable. It is much better to find this out before you are sitting in class with your baby.
A quick email asking for permission is all you need to do before taking your baby to a college class. Be sure to explain that it will not be a permanent plan, although you don’t need to get into too many personal details. A brief email, asking permission and letting your professor know you will leave quietly if your baby is disruptive, is all you need.
If you need a full day of coverage, you may find the majority of your instructors are fine with you taking your baby to a college class, while one may prefer you not bring her along. In that case, be polite, thank your professor, and ask if it would be possible to stop by during office hours or some other time to go over anything you may miss by not attending class.
You will find that most professors are genuinely interested in their student’s success. If you care about your grades and education, your professor will likely go out of their way to help you. If you are constantly missing classes and turning assignments in late, you’ll probably find your professor less likely to go to bat for you when needed.
2. Plan For Everything
When taking your baby to college class you should prepare for the unexpected. Pack the diaper bag as usual, but be prepared for anything. Take extra diapers and wipes, bottles and snacks if applicable, and toys that are quiet but that your baby enjoys. Ideally, your baby will sleep right through class, but you cannot count on that.
If you have some advanced notice that you will be taking your baby to college class, pick up a few quiet toys that you think your baby will like. Keep them stashed away until needed. A new toy can provide more distraction than the same old favorites. Don’t make the mistake of leaving the favorites behind though, you want all the tools available to keep your baby happy and distracted.
Along with having all of your baby gear together, consider downloading a recording app for your phone. Whether you normally take notes by typing or by hand, you may find that that is not something that is going to work with your baby present.
Having the ability to record the lecture allows you to relax and keep your baby occupied while still listening to what your professor is saying. Take notes from the recording as soon as possible, while the lecture is still fresh in your mind. While this isn’t as good as being able to focus entirely on the lecture in real-time, it is better than trying to juggle your baby while taking notes and much better than just staying home.
3. Be Considerate of Others
Your professor permitted you to take your baby to college class; none of your fellow students were asked about it. Keep this in mind and realize that there may be a range of emotions in the classroom when you show up with your baby. While most people will probably follow your professor’s lead, some may find having a baby there irritating.
While you do not owe these students anything, you should be sympathetic to their feelings. Some people have more difficulty focusing than others, some may be paying a good deal of money for childcare of their own, or they may have put off finishing their education until their children were older.
You can minimize any animosity that may be brewing under the surface by simple acts of consideration. If possible, position yourself in the back of the room and near a door. This allows you to slip out quietly if necessary. Be as low-key as possible when dealing with your baby. Sure, your fellow students may have questions or want to chat, but try to be brief, make sure they know you checked with the professor, and be settled in and ready to go when class starts.
4. Don’t Hand Off Responsibility
Lots of people love babies. They are very popular with parents and people who don’t have children as well. You may find multiple people are ready to surround you and help out during class. While this is very nice, it rarely works well.
If your baby is very young, he may accept care from a stranger without a second glance. An older baby will likely protest being handed off to a stranger. Also, every person that is bouncing your baby on their knee, making faces at him or picking up toys he throws to the ground are people who are not paying attention to the lecture.
The act of taking your baby to a college class is a privilege, and the best way to ensure that you continue to have that privilege is to make sure it doesn’t disrupt from others’ learning experience. Remember, it doesn’t have to be the person interacting with your baby that feels slighted and complains to the professor, it can just as easily be a third person, who is trying to stay focused and find the process distracting.
Of course, you don’t want to be rude, but situating yourself in the back corner, and letting others know you appreciate their offers but don’t want to create a distraction, is the polite thing to do.
5. Keep Your Baby Safe
One of the reasons babies are not always welcome on college campuses is due to liability. If your baby is young enough to spend the class in a car seat or front carrier, you probably don’t have much to worry about. If, however, he is older, you need to watch him carefully the entire time he is in the classroom.
Perhaps, like many babies who are just starting to sit up on their own, your baby likes to sit at your feet playing with toys. He can probably keep himself entertained for quite some time this way, shaking and chewing on his favorite stuffed toy and board book. However, college classrooms are built differently than homes.
In a room with auditorium-style seating, he can easily lose his balance and tip under the seat in front, tumbling several rows before you can grab him. Even smaller, more traditional classrooms are likely to have electric outlets in odd places or other dangers that you would never consider. It is important to remember, even if your baby is welcomed into class with open arms from the teachers and students, these are still rooms that were not designed for babies.
As you can see, taking your baby to college class can present some unique challenges. It is possible to do successfully and can help you maintain your GPA and sanity while earning your degree. Be sure to thank your professors for allowing you to bring your baby, and make sure your classmates know you appreciate their tolerance as well.