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Through a collaborative effort, Kent State University offers parenting students Family-Friendly Study Hours where they have a chance to study and work, while student volunteers entertain their children in a quiet, safe space.
The study hours are currently held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. The effort is achieved by the Center for Adult and Family Services, the Parent Student Task Force, Kent University libraries, Education, Health and Human Services and the Early Childhood Development Program.
“The family friendly study hours came out of the parenting student task force, which is co-chaired through this office,” CAVS executive director Joshua Rider said.
Rider said the parenting task force is made up of faculty and staff and is going on their fourth year of being a part of Kent State.
“A lot of good things have come out of [the past four years],” Rider said. “One of them is the Family Friendly Study hours. That is a partnership with the university library, and they sit on the Parenting Student Task Force as well, where they have dedicated part of their sixth floor for parent and family engagement.”
The sixth floor contains an area equipped with couches for work, as well as games and toys for the children. Although the targeted programming is available on certain days and times, Rider said the space is available for anytime usage.
The study hours are a new Kent program going on it’s second semester of availability.
“We came up with the idea in 2019, we started talking about it in fall,” Rider said. “We had everything ready to go in Spring of 2020. We launched in Fall 2021 with guidance from the university that it was okay to resume on campus, in person programming with safety protocols of course.”
The space is guided in session by student volunteers that are able to keep the children occupied while the parents study.
“The parent must stay on the same floor as the children,” Rider said. “It is not a child care service. We are there to provide some water, granola bars and volunteers are there to play some games, do some art projects and engage with toys.”
Rider said the student feedback has been positive.
“Every parenting student has a lot of the same needs; time to study, need for some quiet time and this can help out with that,” Rider said. “So there’s been a lot of excitement around the fact that they’re being offered.”
As for the future, Rider said they would love to expand, but they need to look at the statistics and feedback for this year first.
“Right now we have to take a look at what one whole year looks like,” Rider said. “How many students attended, what went right, what went wrong, then you judge. We are going to do an assessment at the end where we're going to ask all of our parenting students, why did you go? Why didn’t you go? What might have been a barrier for you not to go? Then, we can make adjustments in year two with our campus partners.”
Overall, Rider wanted students to know the study hours are an effort made up of many units including CAVS.
“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers from EHHS,” Rider said. “We couldn't do it without the University Library and we couldn’t do it without our partners at University College that have come to discuss tutoring resources or how to do those kinds of resources for the parents. It’s a collaborative effort.”
Through this effort, parenting students are given the opportunity for success both in and out of the classroom to support their educational and familial journeys.