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Empathetic At-Home Learning

Educator Insights

As parents adjust to helping their children learn from home, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) remains committed to providing helpful tips and resources to families nationwide.

As vice president of education research and development at NIHF, Alaina Rutledge creates curricula for all our education programs. She is also a mother of two, and she works hard each day to ensure that her children are keeping up with their distance learning assignments.

When asked to reflect on her experiences during this unprecedented time, Rutledge promoted the importance of empathy and encouraged parents to not be afraid to try new learning strategies and techniques in order to best prepare their children for success.


The power of empathy

Our children are building new capacity and adaptability as they explore academic concepts and ways to access these ideas from home. This may change how we teach and learn forever, even after our children reenter the classroom. We are finding so many positive attributes of this experience. As parents, it’s up to us to engineer new solutions.

There is beauty in the creation of novel innovations. Look beyond the way it stretches us. Parents and educators are using empathy as they teach children remotely. Empathy helps us identify with the feelings, thoughts and attitudes of children and teachers, and even within ourselves. Empathy also allows us to imagine what it is like to be in another person’s shoes, feeling the emotions that someone else might have in different situations. Inventors often tap into this sense of empathy as they imagine what others might wish for, desire and need.

As you craft solutions, remember the words of NIHF Inductee Radia Perlman, inventor of robust network routing and bridging: “Know the problem you are trying to solve and approach it from several different directions.” Famous for her empathetic innovations, Perlman’s creation process always begins with thinking about the end users, and how to make their lives easier.

I am confident that all of us will grow stronger from these challenging circumstances, and new innovations will blossom.


Discover more at-home resources

We invite you to explore our many hands-on STEM activities developed by Rutledge’s team of education experts, including a special activity that explores how inventing and empathy go hand in hand. Additionally, we’ve created a brand new at-home resources page to help both educators and parents inspire the innovators of the future.

Do you have any success stories or advice when it comes to at-home learning? Share your experiences with us on our Camp Invention Facebook page. Together, we can make sure our young innovators stay engaged, even outside the classroom.

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