Mind Over Matters

Keep Your Brain Engaged to Put Problems into Perspective

By KD Reep

Adult art classes

As a mother, it seems counterintuitive to register for a class, workshop or seminar to learn about something purely for the pleasure of it. Mothers are adjunct educators; why should we add one more todo item to a never-ending list? Because an engaged and curious mind positively affects the body and soul overall, making you a better mother, partner, friend and employee.

According to lifelong learning advocate and author Nancy Merz Nordstrom, an active mind can stimulate physical activity and keep spirits high. Lifelong learning, she says, utilizes non-credit academic courses, educational travel, and community service and volunteerism to fully engage the brain, heighten physical activity and maintain healthy social relationships.

“Lifelong learning helps develop natural abilities and opens the mind,” Nordstrom said. “An integral part of lifelong learning is the free exchange of ideas and viewpoints. There’s nothing like listening to or taking part in stimulating discussions to help us see the other side of an issue.”

In addition to nurturing a person’s innate abilities, pursuing a class or learning opportunity increases a mother’s wisdom, helps her adapt to change and make the world a better place—for herself and her community.

“Lifelong learning enables us to put our lives in perspective,” Nordstrom said. “It increases our understanding of previous successes and failures, and it helps us understand ourselves better. Because society is in a state of constant flux, lifelong learning enables us to keep up with society’s changes—especially the technological ones. A learning environment with our peers not only makes it possible to stay abreast of change, it also makes it fun.”

Perhaps the main benefit of taking a class purely for its enjoyment is self fulfillment. By expanding awareness, mothers are more centered and able to respond to the challenges of everyday life with thoughtfulness. That approach to life has a ripple effect—the calmer and kinder a mom is to her family, the kinder they will be to each other and the people around them.

In central Arkansas, there are a myriad of classes and activities moms can pursue for every kind of interest. Whether it’s a one-time lesson to test the creative waters or a full course to learn a new skill like mastering a content management system or foreign language, mothers have access to opportunities to keep their mind sharp, spirit high and outlook positive. 


The Arkansas Extended Learning Center offers classes, workshops, seminars, specialized training and exam preparation for both adults and children. Courses include golf, cooking, drawing and painting, singing, photography, landscape design, interior design, and more. The Roll with It: Tamale Workshop with Chef Amanda Sun begins Aug. 7, and Classic and Secondary Sauces Class begins Aug. 21, both at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock. Beginning and Intermediate Golf Clinics are set for Aug. 27 at the Country Club of Arkansas.

The Arkansas Arts Center’s adult classes and workshops offer a wide range of courses in the visual arts including art history, ceramics, continuing education for educators, drawing, glass jewelry and small metals, new and other media, painting, photography, printmaking and woodworking.

Pulaski Technical College’s Lifelong Learning offers courses in personal enrichment, culinary arts, computers and technology, construction and continuing education units.

Arkansas Craft School, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, appreciation and instruction of crafts indigenous to the Arkansas Ozarks, offers continuing education credits in screen printing, book arts and printmaking, woodturning, blacksmithing, and bladesmithing, among others.

There are a host of special interest courses, workshops, seminars and classes available year round. Among them are scuba diving classes at Rick’s Dive Center, where you can take diver classes (open water certification for those in the know).

The William F. Laman Public Library System in North Little Rock offers adult coloring, book clubs and paper crafts. Moms can even tie on some tap shoes at Rock City Dance Center, where adult classes include ballet, hip-hop and adult contemporary in addition to tap.

The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service has courses in farm and ranch, yard and garden, business and communities, environment and nature, and health and living.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission also hosts hunting, fishing and conservation learning opportunities, and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program has tours available of historic sites in the state, including Walks Through History and Sandwiching in History.