The struggle is real, mamas! Throughout the U.S. right now multiple counties in many states have shut down the local public schools and are helping parents oversee their children’s education from home. We’re calling it Distance-Learning. Of course, that means there aren’t any days when you get to put a little distance between you and your blessings.
Our natural tendency is to see this time at home as something to get through, to muscle through in our own strength. But I want to encourage you to change your mind about this inconvenience and choose to see it as an opportunity to not just survive but sincerely thrive as a family!
Here’s my best piece of advice for the homeschooling/distance learning mamas out there: Don’t spend too much time fretting about the three R’s — reading, writing, and arithmetic. You’ll teach those subjects with the curriculum the school sends home and the children will learn them. (Perhaps with a few tears, but the lessons will get learned.) Instead of giving great-gobs of stress-energy to teaching your children those “core subjects,” consider lessons that are even more at the core of your family values. Lessons in character and righteousness and right living, those values that you’ve been too busy in previous years to build into your family’s school schedule.
Take a peaceful moment here at the start of the semester to plan and anticipate the character you’d like to see developed in your kiddos during their school days. Remember how public schools banned prayer? You get to add that back into your learning days! And you know how the public schools can’t include Bible lessons in their curriculum? Well, you can! Choose a book of the Bible and read it through together, around the breakfast table at the start of your school day. Or choose a family devotional to enjoy. Since you’re not running out the door to catch the bus there’s a bit more time.
And those virtues you want to see developed in their character? There’s time to focus on that too. Read stories that reinforce excellent character traits. Read Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott aloud to the family. Read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and Ann of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. Read and explore and have rich conversations together. It will require sacrifice on your part, but commit to this sacrificial love.
Don’t hide behind your phone or take your stress out on the children, persevere in loving-kindness as you make the most of these unexpected days together. There is more for us to teach our children than simply those original three R’s. How about these R’s — Respect, personal Responsibility, and Righteousness.
And don’t forget to give them plenty of time to explore their interests. Find online resources to help them learn more about hobbies they’d like to develop. Discover the local hiking trails near your home. Teach the children to cook some simple meals. Give them a shovel and teach them to plant a garden. Lace-up some running shoes and teach them to run the neighborhood.
So yes, figure out the curriculum your local school has posted online. Get your head around their crazy zoom schedules too. Get ready for all of that. But also prep a few things to help round out your days together — and their character too.
In a way, I feel like parents are being given another chance. We shouldn’t have this additional time with our children, but we do. Make the most of it! Circle back and consider, What do I want to teach them that they haven’t already learned? What character deficits have I allowed to remain? What have I been too busy to correct or too lazy and let slide over the years? Too much screen use? Haughty eyes and unkind words? Laziness around the home? What special family memories have we not prioritized that we have the time to make a priority today?
That’s what I’m focusing on at the start of this school year. And I invite you to do the same!
I’m not sharing this in an effort to stress you out or intimidate you when you already feel like you’ve too much to figure out but to inspire you to spend some time now thinking simply. Beyond their curriculum, what do you want to include in the school year ahead? Though some of you may be forced into distance-learning against your will… I believe this just might be your best year yet. Theirs and yours.
Many blessings, sisters!
Co-author of Triggers and Parenting Scripts and host of The 40 Day Sugar Fast
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