By: Pam Embler
As nurse educators, we have prepared well to serve nursing students. We are experts in our practice fields, we’ve obtained advanced or terminal degrees and some have even obtained certification demonstrating our dedication to nursing education.
And then COVID-19 struck.
As America struggles with the expanding COVID-19 restrictions, many of you brace, not embrace, to homeschool your children. I would like to encourage you to embrace this opportunity.
Many of you as very qualified nurse educators may now find yourself in uncharted territory as homeschool parents too. You may be questioning your ability to educate your child at home, after all, there is a stark difference between pedagogy and andragogy.
I have been a homeschool parent for eighteen years and a nurse educator for ten years. I would like to offer these words of encouragement, tips and tricks.
First, relax. You do not need to know everything. Homeschooling lets you learn with your child. Whether your child is in grade K or 12, you are your child’s first, best teacher. Homeschooling offers you an opportunity to know your child on a deeper level; how they learn best and what they are most interested in learning. You have probably been given a list of subjects to address. Be creative with these, how they learn is up to you. Consider documentaries for history or science, use games to reinforce math concepts and read together.
Consider a schedule but be flexible. You will be surprised at how much your child will learn in less time than a traditional school day. Do not worry about covering every subject, every day. It is ideal to begin every day with a great attitude, but understand that may not always be the reality. Capitalize on great attitudes and respond in kindness to rough starts. When a bad day starts the day – bake! You can double or triple a recipe. You are adding, multiplying, solving proportions, ratios, and measurement equivalents. Their reward is a batch of cookies, your reward is that they used problem-solving, critical thinking skills and math.
Don't be afraid to go off-topic and down a "rabbit hole." If your child asks a question – and often questions are off-topic - explore the question. Encouraging learning is what is important. You can return to the original topic or incorporate the off-topic question into the content to be covered. Consider the ways you can use this interest to involve other subjects or skills. A history lesson can involve a map, writing and vocabulary. Take advantage of current events. Explore COVID-19 and the many health concepts being discussed in the media. Not only can you provide a lesson on health, wellness, disease, community/public health, incidence, prevalence and surveillance, but you can also address your child’s fears surrounding events with facts.
Use technology to your advantage. Use phones or tablets for a game of “find the fact." This is an opportunity to discuss reputable websites and sort fact from fiction. Consider a review of some of the popular social media sites and review them for reputable reports on current events. This is a lesson with lifelong implications. Provide your child the opportunity to become an educated and responsible consumer of online information.
Get outside. Nothing stimulates learning more than exercise and fresh air. Take a book to the park. Outside your door are lessons on topography, biology, geography and physics.
Let the older kids lend a hand. Providing your older child the opportunity to teach a younger sibling can be an empowering experience. Older children can read to their siblings as well as instruct on a subject. Older siblings often enjoy this additional responsibility, another lesson we parents all strive to impart. They might be closer to the subject then you are, alleviating some of your anxieties. In addition, this provides you time to complete your work and provides a well-deserved break.
Finally, HAVE FUN! Do not let homeschooling intimidate you. You may not be the expert in all the subjects that your child is studying but you are the expert in knowing your child. The school closing ban will soon be over. Use this opportunity to encourage lifelong learning.