It’s only been a few weeks of pandemic isolation and already there is despair, overwhelm, yelling, slamming doors, pencils that have gone flying, and way too many snacks. And that’s just how the parents are doing.
I’ve heard teachers express how hard it is to teach their own kids at home. I’ve heard moms say it’s impossible to keep up with all theemails from teachers and handing in of assignments online. And over and over I hear, “I never wanted to home school my kids, I don’t have the patience for this, I hope I’m not failing my kids, I hope they won’t be way behind when they get back to school”. But I’ve also heard of people who are thriving and loving the freedom in their schedule and the extra time with their kids. There are families who are finding a rhythm and enjoying it. And I’m sure there are a thousand different shades in between.
Where do you fit, dear parent? How are you doing with having the education of your children thrust into your lap? Can I offer you a bit of hope?
Hang In There
I’m in my 7th year of home schooling now. I was one of those, “I’m never, ever going to home school” people. God is funny like that. I came into this dragging my heels and grouching, so God had to teach me a few things. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Guard your thoughts
I fell prey to many wrong thoughts over the years. I especially liked “it’s all on me”. Here’s what God taught me: I put way too much pressure on myself and way too much stock in my role. God alone is the one who can open up my child’s mind to learn and help them understand things. My role is simply to plant the seeds and to do that faithfully. To bring my little loaves and fish and then let God exceedingly and abundantly multiply my efforts. This is not all on you. In fact, our teachers in the Southeast are amazing! They are working hard to figure out how to teach kids at home and how to help you do that. So ask them for help. It’s not all on you!
Another thought that keeps racing through my mind is “everyone else is figuring this out, no one else seems to be struggling like I am”. This is so not true! We just don’t always see or hear about it. We only post the shining moments on Instagram and not the epic fails. But everyone struggles with something at some point. Everyone.
I also have really had to work against the “all or nothing” thoughts. You know, the feeling that when a few things go wrong and then the entire day is terrible and I can’t do anything right and we will never figure this out. But I have learned to tell myself, “Something is better than nothing”. I look for small wins. I have started to think through my day like a lawyer bills his clients. I think in 15-minute sections. And when I think like that I realize that only 45 minutes of our day was really bad and I start to look for a few signs of growth and things that did go well.
Home schooling is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It has challenged my character in so many ways. It has made me cry too many times. It has made me doubt my sanity and myself. What you have been asked to do right now is not easy and it’s all the more difficult because you never wanted this and on top of it you’re dealing with all the other Covid-19 stuff. So I want to encourage you to be real about how things are going. Find a few close friends that you can talk to about what’s really happening in your home. Reach out to your kids’ teachers for help. Reach out to God. Get down on your knees and tell him what’s going on, how you’re feeling and what you need.
Remember that relationship is most important
I have messed things up with my boys more often that I wish to admit because they couldn’t finish a writing assignment or their math was so sloppy I couldn’t read their answers. I have apologized a lot too, and worked to mend the relationship. I wish I could say I have figured this out but somehow the urgency of adding fractions and just plain old finishing a worksheet makes me lose my marbles. But in my head and in my heart I know that the relationship I have with my kids is more important than any schoolwork.
Please learn that quicker than I did. This is your time, my friends, to learn about your child and to work on their character. To help them persevere, to teach them not to talk negatively about themselves, to show them what to do when they get frustrated. Your role during this season is to build into your child things of eternal value such as a character that will help them do life well and shine for Jesus.
Be an encourager
I tended to mine for dirt. I looked for muck rather than gold. I saw the things that needed to be fixed, not the things that were working well. I needed to change. Your kids need you to see all the good things in them. Be their biggest fan during this time. Look for ways to encourage other parents as they help their kids do school at home. And most importantly, encourage yourself! Talk to yourself like you would talk to a dear friend, with kindness and grace.
Remember your calling as a parent
God has tasked you with the job of preparing your child for life. Now that your kids aren’t going to school that burden falls more heavily on you. But honestly, it was always there. So don’t give up. Your kids need to read well and do math for life. They need to be able to write. So please do your best to help your kids learn during this time. Their teachers will thank you and your kids will thank you as they get back to school and feel good about what they accomplished while at home.
One thing God has brought me back to time and again is that school is the tool to help me learn who my kids are and build a relationship with them. It is the reason for me to sit down beside them every week day and learn what’s going on in their head and heart. I see their struggles, character issues, unique personality, intellect and silliness. There are many times I have fought against this. I’ll be honest I sometimes stomp around in my head and whine about why I have to do this. But then I am reminded that God has my best interest at heart too. Spending time with my kids is for my good as well as theirs. So I’m trying to grow up and do this well. Would you join me in this? I know we can do this if we do it together.
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Bonnie is “just” a stay-at–home mom for two energetic boys and the wife of a sports and music-loving husband. She loves Jesus and is trying to live a life that reflects that. Her desire is to see others come into a deep relationship with Jesus and experience the love and life change that our heavenly Father brings. And so in her “spare” time she helps write material and teach at Southland’s Selah mom’s program. Oh, and if having coffee with friends can be considered a hobby then she is all over that!