Have you ever been through a tough season, a season when you wonder if anyone learned anything?
I have. More than once.
About three years ago--from January to May--we helped care for and love my grandmother in the last months of her life. I don't regret one day, one minute of how we chose to spend our time. We made wonderful memories with Grams during that time, memories our family relives and smiles over--all of us. But, it wasn't an easy time.
The six months prior, found us spending many hours touring assisted living facilities and government-subsidized care units. There were meetings with social workers and property managers. My high school learner asked if she could be included in the tours and meetings.
At first, I wondered how she could accompany me and complete her scheduled course work.
After a few conversations, Mike and I decided there was great value in our high schooler participating in the meetings, discussions, and comparisons. After all, she may be able to add a perspective my mom and I--being very close to the circumstances--might not be able to see. In addition, she was a consumer and might one day be faced with similar decisions.
I was worried our daughter wouldn't be able to make visits and meetings with us and get her planned work completed. I was fearful and tentative. However, Mike and I decided there was life value to this season.
Our high schooler would accompany my mom and I.
Fast forward to the end of May.
After some really difficult months, Grandma passed away. Being the end of May, I was compiling work samples for our year end evaluations and updating my high schooler's transcript. In the process, I asked our daughter to look over the transcript and her portfolio of work samples to determine if I had missed any significant work she had completed--especially independent studies--while my mind was preoccupied with Grandma.
Her response surprised me.
"Couldn't I get credit for all I learned while helping with Grammy?"
I answered with a question.
"What do you think you learned?"
I was astounded by her answers.
Here are the highlights:
- Medical care terminology
- Implications of elderly care, physically as well as psychologically
- Family care of the elderly
- Levels of care matter and costs associated with that care
- Comparing and contrasting residential services and their differences: nursing facility, assisted living, retirement community, memory care
- Levels of home care and the services rendered
- Meal preparation, offerings, presentation, individualization of services in different facilities
- Physical, emotional and spiritual care concerns at facilities
- Support care for family, if offered
- Comparison and contrast of social and group activities in facilities
- Nursing qualifications at each facility- RN, LPN, CNA
- Staff to patient ratios
- Emergency response systems and their importance
- Financial options and obligations
- Hospice and end of life procedures, care, and considerations
We talked for thirty minutes (at least) about all she had learned and experienced, first-hand, experientially. Not only had our daughter interacted with--playing games, conversing, and caring for--Grammy and other residents several times a week for several months, but she had also made visits to seven facilities and compared the offerings, care, staff qualifications, and financial costs of each. She helped us research at home and we brainstormed questions we would ask at each meeting.
When our daughter visited with us, she asked questions and held conversations with staff, helping us understand the pros and cons of each location. Near the end of Grammy's life our daughter visited three hospice care facilities and listened to three presentations regarding choices we would have to make as a family. In addition, she observed how people processed Grammy's declining health and eventually her passing--from my parents to her youngest siblings--as we visited, asked questions, processed grief together.
I couldn't believe what our daughter had learned! None of it was planned. And, I almost missed an opportunity to use her interest--a real-life situation--as a catalyst for learning.
My daughter wanted to be an active participant of this season in our lives, and it was some of the most valuable learning she could have done that year.
Could she earn credit for all she had learned?
In our state, that final answer rests with Mike and I. We confer the credit. we sign the transcript. This is not the case for all states, so research is essential in regards to state requirements.
I also had to determine in my mind--really Mike and I together--whether I could feel confident in the credit we were giving. Would I--or my daughter should she be asked to explain her course work in an essay or interview--be able to substantiate what our daughter had learned? Did I feel the content was high school level or higher?
After researching high school courses (there really weren't but one or two) and content of college credit offerings (this was more helpful) as well as asking questions of professionals in the field, we decided to give our daughter one-half credit for her learning and experience.
For readers with young adults interested in this field, in my research I learned the Red Cross has a family care-giver course.
To document the content covered, should our daughter need it for college admission, I wrote the following course description of what she learned.
Cares and Concerns of the Elderly
This experiential study was initiated by the student as a result of the direct care and concern of her ninety-five year old great-grandmother and her health and care needs during the last nine months of her life. The student interacted with elderly patients at in-patient care centers several times a week. One visit included making and delivering Christmas cards. During the student's visits she served cake and punch at a birthday party, helped residents participate in an Easter egg hunt, escorted patients through a nature garden, played card and board games with patients, and sang Christmas carols with a group of parents and students. As the great-grandmother required complete care, the student researched, visited, and compared nursing care and living accommodations at three local assisted living facilities and three hospice care units, participating in discussions of how to match patient needs with patient care. The student also participated in discussions about blood transfusions, intravenous nutrition, end-of-life care, death, and the grieving process.
What real-life circumstances is your young adult facing? Do these experiences include internships, community opportunities, or apprenticeships? Do these circumstances or experiences provide high school level (or higher) instruction or content?
Perhaps your young adult is experiencing something extra-ordinary, something which will impact life--and other people--far beyond the high school years. There may be job shadowing, internships, community opportunities, or apprenticeships involved in the learning. Lives might be changing because of your young adult's learning experience.
Might you consider what those experiences are, how they are impacting lives, and how might they equate to credit?
This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children.