Back-to-school ideas for parents

I don’t miss sitting in rows of desks, listening to a teacher drone on about a topic that holds zero interest for me, but I DO miss education. I miss learning, the thrill of discovering how to do accomplish something new, the luxury of soaking up knowledge on a subject that captivates and excites me.

Although most of us have long since skipped out on school days of the past, our education doesn’t have to end.

Here are a few ways to jump-start your continuing ed without that puddle of drool on your desk.


Think you might be an old dog who can’t learn new tricks? Garner inspiration from a personal account that proves you don’t need a traditional education to succeed at something new.

Educated by Tara Westover will bring you to the conclusion that where you came from does not dictate where you can end up. Westover was raised in a survivalist family, without ever attending school or even receiving a birth certificate, yet she managed to earn a Ph.D. from Cambridge. This story is filled with nuggets of insight and courage (sometimes via naiveté).


Looking for something a little less traditional than the offerings at the local college? Check out CourseHorse, an online directory and central booking site with more than 75,000 classes in Chicago. From Cheesemaking to The Art of *ahem* Certain Intimate Acts to Creating a Pitchable Screenplay, there is something for everyone.

Take a family-friendly class with your kids to double as bonding time—there is a knitting class for parents and kids and even family language classes (Russian, anyone?). 


If you are like me and a bit over the whole all-you-can-drink by the pool vacations, find a trip with more cultural substance and education. Small group tour experiences allow attendees to enjoy off-the-beaten path adventures and cultural traditions as opposed to being herded on and off a motor coach like cattle.

Reputable companies like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel have 10 guests on average, allowing you to further your education by getting to know your fellow adventurers and their background. 


Chicago has one of the most diverse culinary offerings of any city in the U.S. Why not broaden the range of your taste buds by sampling something exotic? Little Diners Crew, the dining club for kids 4-12, has expanded its offerings to include restaurant partnerships for a curated dining experience for you and your family.

Each month, LDC features a rotating list of culturally diverse restaurants where you meet the chef and learn about both the restaurant and cuisine. Parents and kids alike get to dine at some of the most incredible restaurants in Chicago (Duck Duck Goat!). 

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.

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