It’s a major step: you’ve decided to take your kids on the road with you during your travel nursing assignments. Now you’re probably dealing with a big question: how are you going to make sure they get a quality education?
For many travel nurses, homeschooling is a convenient and effective option. It can make your life much less complicated. You’ll also be able to give your children the benefits that come from experiencing the world through travel.
If you’re new to homeschooling, you might feel a bit intimidated. Fear not. You’ve been teaching your children since the day they were born — how to self-soothe, how to eat with utensils, how to page through board books, and play peek-a-boo. Think of homeschooling as the next step in your teaching relationship. As a nurse, you have an edge on many parents in the art of homeschooling. You’re already patient, a good communicator, and you know how to be firm while being supportive.
Once you’re comfortable with the choice to homeschool, the big question is how to do it! It can feel a bit overwhelming to make sure you’re keeping your kids on track and following all legal requirements. Here are a few tips for making things work effectively as a homeschooler.
Educate yourself about state regulations
Laws concerning homeschooling vary greatly from state to state. Here’s one example: only some states require annual assessments. Another example: 32 states require that certain subjects be taught, but only 22 of these states require verification. Once you research it, you might be surprised by the relatively low amount of oversight required in many states.
Do your research before you make any firm choices about how you’ll teach or what curriculum you’ll use. Check out various online guides to get an overview of state requirements:
- FindLaw offers an overview of state laws
- The Homeschool Legal Defense Association provides state-by-state summaries and also has a page of listings to connect you with homeschooling associations within your state
Learn teaching methods
Once you’ve become familiar with your state’s requirements for homeschooling, it’s time to put together a plan of action. The flexibility of homeschooling requirements mean you’ll be free to make a lot of decisions about how you want to teach — and what you want your children to learn. Freedom and flexibility are definitely two of the major perks of homeschooling!
To get started, you’ll want to learn about different teaching methods and resources. Here are two “alternative approaches” that are often embraced by homeschooling parents:
Montessori. This child-centered approach was developed by an Italian educator named Maria Montessori in the early 1990s. The philosophy embraces the idea that play is a child’s “work.” The main goal of the teacher is to engage the child in activities that they’ll then take on independently. Children move at their own pace and develop leadership and independence.
Waldorf. Waldorf is another play-based approach that values structure and cooperation and minimizes (or completely eliminates) electronic media. It also excludes homework, testing, and other typical expectations of a more “academic” curriculum.
Maybe you’re envisioning a more classic style for your homeschooling, complete with little desks in orderly rows. You’ll be collecting workbooks, planning lessons, and developing a fixed schedule. If you’re looking for something more like a standard classroom experience, there are tons of resources to help you along.
- Online programs can be an excellent base or supplement for your family’s curriculum. Stanford University has created an online high school and has also developed curriculum materials for younger children that are available through McGraw Hill.
- Free resources are available on the Internet, like printable kindergarten math worksheets, math strategy games, and grammar practice drills. The Homeschool Mom offers free planning and scheduling sheets. Also check out this list of awesome free teaching tools from the Pioneer Woman’s blog.
So how do you decide what’s the best model for your child or children? Think about their learning skills and strengths, and ask yourself some questions:
- What is my child’s learning style?
- How important is it to me to track academic progress?
- What am I confident I can teach effectively?
The decisions you make about your teaching model and materials can create a great foundation for your homeschooling experience.
Build a network of support
Homeschooling might seem like a solitary endeavor. After all, most of the time it’s just going to be you and your little ones. The job of teaching them will be much easier, though, if you find support groups and reinforcements.
On the most basic level, make sure you have the support you need to provide quality care for your children while you’re working. That can be a spouse, family member, a fellow nurse, or a childcare professional. Ideally, this person can also assist in reinforcing your learning objectives.
The best thing you can do to get more support is to find a homeschool organization or support group in your area. If you’re specifically looking to talk to parents who are using secular methods, try the discussion boards at secular homeschool. Many homeschooling groups arrange field trips, joint art/music classes, or other group activities. These opportunities will help your children learn more while also providing important social interactions with their peers.
Take advantage of your travel opportunities
We’ve saved the best for last. One of the coolest aspects of homeschooling as a travel nurse is your ability to introduce your children to new places. Instead of just reading or watching educational movies in a classroom, your children can get first-hand exposure to fantastic museums, galleries, and historic landmarks!
Ready to take your kids on some unbeatable educational adventures? Check out this list of the 12 Best Children’s Museums in the U.S., the 10 Best Art Museums for Kids, and the 15 Best Historical U.S. Sites for Children.
Looking for more on traveling with kids? Check out our blog for tips on how to keep the kids (and you!) happy while travel nursing.