Parents: could returning to study make your kids smarter?

Having young children can pose potential barriers to study – but the benefits of making it work could go both ways.

Completing a TAFE or uni qualification is one of the best methods to increase your employability, change or begin your career. But what if you’ve started your family before your studies?

Family study group

While challenges come with being a parent and a student, there are ways to succeed (even when your kids are tiny). Especially if you pick a uni that offers a good study, work and life balance. And changing the future for yourself and your family through higher education can actually make your children more engaged with the idea of learning from a young age.

In many studies, parental education has been identified as the single strongest predictor of children’s success in school, and later life.

VU’s Dr Lannie O’Keefe says:

My goal in returning to study was to be an example for my children, to ‘normalise’ study for them and change future outcomes for my family.

Despite leaving school at 15 and becoming a single parent to six children, Dr O’Keefe later completed three degrees including a PhD, and launched an academic career.

“My kids laugh now, recalling how I involved them in my study. At exam time I would give them cue cards and they would all line up and practise their reading by asking me questions about physiology. I’m so glad I was able to inspire them by incorporating my education into their childhood. They now go to university themselves; they have careers and adore learning.”

Modelling good habits

The evidence isn’t just anecdotal. As Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute has found:

Parents play a critical part in their children’s early developmental phases, and are an important factor in them meeting key milestones during early school years.

VU graduate Rhian Stavely, now a biomedical researcher at Harvard University, believes that by becoming as educated as possible he has given his whole family a chance to succeed.

“Across my bachelor, masters and PhD studies, I have had three daughters with my wife (who also excelled in her masters during this time). I was driven to lead by example and encourage others, especially my daughters and three nieces, to show them that they can live their dreams.”

So whether you’re motivated to set a good example, need to uplift the financial prospects of your family, are keen to upskill or just follow a passion (and want a team of tiny people to help with your cramming), the fact remains: activities at home, that involve parents with their children, have the biggest impact on kids' future achievements.

Parents! Are you ready to start or return to study?

Whether you're going to uni for the first time, studying a microcredential course, returning to complete a degree, or beginning postgraduate education, we can offer flexible study options that work with your busy schedule.

If you're starting a bachelor degree, our unique VU Block Model® will set you up for success from day one, with small classes and short, focused teaching periods.

Read more helpful tips for returning to study

We've put together answers to the questions you might be asking yourself if you've decided to start your studies.

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