Deuteronomy 31:8, Colossians 3:23
To say that these are uncertain times is quite an understatement. To say these are bizarre times seems to be a bit more appropriate. Suffice it to say, each and every one of us are affected by the COVID19 pandemic in significant and unusual ways. Some of us are no longer going to our normal places of work, and we find ourselves working from home. At the same time, our children are no longer in school and are also working from home. Others of us are still reporting to work and must find a place for our children to not only stay, but also be successful adjusting to learning from home! In the back of our minds, we can't help but wonder where the virus is lurking in our communities. Not to mention, there is no toilet paper, no bread, no hand sanitizer, no Lysol...HELP!!!!!! I must admit, my human nature wants to go into high anxiety mode. But instead, let's dwell on the promise of Deuteronomy 31:8- a promise that is repeated over and over throughout the scripture:
"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave
you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
Everything that is uncertain for us centers around the fact that, for almost all of us, our work looks way different now. Our routines are different. Our work may have a different format. The people we work with are, well, probably at home. Work is simply what we do everyday, and when something interferes with it, quite frankly, we panic. So let’s just look to scripture to get some guidance. Throughout the book of Colossians, Paul is teaching that Christ is supreme and sufficient. And yes, He is so in the midst of a pandemic as well. I was drawn to chapter 3 verse 23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men." In other words, no matter your situation, work with all you have for GOD! So here we are, in quite a situation. It is our privilege to work for God. It is an honor to do all we can to reflect Christ in the way we handle all of these novel restrictions and expectations. Let us all pray that we will all be a part of His glory when this is all said and done.
It is true that we are all in this together! While you are navigating through the stress of getting our children adjusted to a new way to "do school", it just might help to have a few tips highlighted for you to make things flow a little better.
Tip#1 - Type out a schedule and post in an accessible location.
Having a schedule will give children boundaries which helps them to feel secure. It can also keep them in a similar routine as the school day, which makes transition back to school much easier. Do allow your child to have choices and make decisions about parts of the schedule. For example, let them choose from a list of acceptable activities for break time. Be sure to schedule plenty of breaks throughout the day. And remember that the schedule must work for your family, so give yourselves some flexibility when necessary, but sticking to it most of the time will benefit in the end.
Tip#2 - Stick to the Schedule
The best way to stick to the schedule and still have time for adult work and responsibilities, will be to include an accountability area in the schedule, i.e. a place for your child to check off completed sections. The age of the child will determine what the schedule looks like and how much self regulation will work. If you don't already have a copy of the class schedule form school for your child's class, request one from the teacher right away. This will help you match the daily schedule to a normal school day and to know what an age appropriate schedule looks like.
In addition, having a place to work where text books and materials can remain will help both adult and child in managing the schedule and in establishing independence. It is also a good idea to include in the schedule a time for cleaning up and organizing at the end of the day.
Sample Schedule (this one would be for older elementary)
Schedule for Home Based Education M T W R F
7:30-7:45 Breakfast x*
7:45-8:00 Quiet time x*
8:00-8:30 Bible x*
9:20-9:50 Break/Screen Time/Music
2:45-3:15 Complete unfinished classwork
and clean up
*indicates student checking off completed section
Tip#3 - Spend at least 1 hour outside
Not only is this good for our mental status, but the sunshine and warmth is considered helpful in inhibiting the spread of the virus. Just be sure if you run into neighbors to maintain social distance!
Tip#4 - Encourage appropriate levels of independence
This is a great opportunity to guide your child to greater independence. Many of you will be working from home and will need to have your children working independently to do so. They may need more guidance at first, but when they are adjusted to the new norm, you should see their independence begin to increase.
Tip#5 - Look for signs of frustration
With the expectation of independence, you may see signs of frustration. Give yourselves permission to stop and work through that frustration. It may mean that you have to do a little less from time to time until everyone is adjusted. That is ok. Teachers are also available during the hours they have given you. Please call and get some advice from them. They are more than happy to be of assistance.
Tip#6 - Do what you can do within the schedule
Videos are set for an amount of time. Do what you can do within that time. It is important to continue learning, however, do not feel pressure to accomplish everything that can be done in a normal classroom environment. Do the best you can to have your student learning during the time away from school. Teachers will review and there will be an adjustment period when they all return to school. It is very important that you do all you can. Your best is all that is asked.
Tip#7 - Do something fun together every day.
Even if it is only fifteen minutes. Go for a walk. Jump on the trampoline. Play a game. Make a treat. Watch a movie. Do whatever you love to do together! Be creative and maybe even learn something new. Tonight for us - teaching the kids to play chess!