Students with children balance parenthood and education

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Life can be stressful for parents when they need to bring their baby on campus. Photo by Natalie Stoker.
Life can be stressful for parents when they need to bring their baby on campus. (Photo by Natalie Stoker)

A young family walks down the sidewalk in front of the Eyring Science Center, the mother and father carrying backpacks and the baby sleeping in her stroller. Some passersby watch the family as they go by, but most walk quickly past. The sight is so common at BYU that it’s hardly even noticed.

BYU is home to a large population of married students, many of whom have children. Since BYU does not offer any form of child care, students with children have to find child care options on their own.

“I used to bring (my daughter) to all my classes,” said Victoria Thatcher, full-time student and mother of a 1-year-old. “This semester I can only bring her if the babysitter cancels at last minute,” she said. “When this happens I usually stay home.”

Thatcher and her husband, Tyler, rely on their ward members to watch their daughter while they are in class.

Professors have differing policies in regards to bringing children to class. Dawna Baugh, professor of family life, does not usually allow children into classes because they are a distraction to her students and a liability in her labs. Baugh will make exceptions for newborns.

“Students with kids usually end up in the hallway anyway,” Baugh said.

Steven Duncan, a professor of family life, prefers parents do not bring their children to his classes, but he allows it with the instruction to take children in the hallway if they become a distraction.

“Hopefully spouses can work together as a married team,” Duncan said. “Of course that’s not always possible, but that’s the best option.”

According to BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins, BYU does not provide child care under direction from the Board of Trustees. BYU is the only large university in Utah that does not offer some type of child care assistance. The University of Utah, UVU and Weber State have on-campus child care. Utah State and Dixie State have a referral system for area child care facilities and provide some financial assistance based on need for child care services.

Babies in a classroom can be a distraction to everyone--parents, classmates and teachers. Photo by Natalie Stoker.
Babies in a classroom can be a distraction to everyone–parents, classmates and teachers. (Photo by Natalie Stoker)

The closest BYU comes to child care is the Child and Family Studies Laboratory, which offers preschool and kindergarten. The research center admits children to kindergarten by random selection. Preschool admittance is given to children of full-time faculty and administrators first, followed by full-time staff, full-time students and the community.

Many students with children are open to the idea of child care on campus. Kerri Andersen, full-time student and mother of a 4-month-old, said she would like child care in the testing center so taking tests would be easier.

Amy Harrison, full-time student and mother of a 3-month-old, said though she doesn’t currently need child care, she would consider using child care if the need arose.

“I would prefer on-campus to outside of campus so I’d be close if something happened,” Harrison said.

Harrison and her husband worked out their schedules so one of them is always able to watch their baby outside of class. Many other parents also work out their schedules this way. If their schedules overlap, parents will usually turn to family and friends to help with their children before bringing them to class.

There are two daycares in Provo, Adventure Time and Little Ladies and Gents Preschool and Daycare. Many babysitters and nannies advertise on KSL.com and Care.com. There are also several preschools in and around Provo.

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