And just like that, words like “corona” and phrases like “social distancing” became a part of our everyday lexicon.
There is enough information–and even more misinformation–bandying about such that I will not try to re-educate anyone on what has happened in our country in a matter of weeks. But I must say, when school districts shut down, in some cases indefinitely, things got interesting.
There are several memes floating around that poke fun at the parents of public schoolers, who are now in the unenviable position of having to figure out what to do with kids who are not accustomed to being at home all day. Moreover, families are having to restructure their entire lives–with very little notice, if any–to accommodate more people at home, and some are now out of work as a result of all the “social distancing.” Here’s another term that is becoming all too common in everyday conversations: mandatory homeschooling.
I don’t care for that term at all. I think it is misleading about the very nature of homeschooling, and it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on a parent who, in a matter of days, was told that the school system they trusted cannot help them at this time. Once you finish snickering at all the memes, it doesn’t take much to realize that these folks are operating with the same fears that we as homeschoolers have: can I do this? How do I start? Am I doing enough? Are we beyond help if I screw this up?
Personally, I do not believe that we have to convert America into a nation of homeschoolers. I honestly believe that homeschooling is a calling, and not the right solution for every family. That said, there are definitely places where we–specifically, those homeschoolers who consider themselves Believers in Christ–can be lifelines to those around us. How? I am glad you asked.
1. Pray. If ever there was a moment when we saw the depths of our selfishness and greed, it had to be in watching people fight for cases of water, toilet tissue, or literally run people over in grocery parking lots. God speaks to us in a number of places in scripture about peace. One of my personal favorites is Isaiah 26:3. We need to pray for peace, but also for discernment, and for wisdom, including wisdom in helping kids understand what is happening. You are the first Bible they will read, and they will respond as you respond. Similarly,…
2. Be mindful of your tongue. We are told in Proverbs 18:21 that the power of life and death is in our tongues. Do you sound like a Believer? Is your language encouraging? Do other families walk away from you feeling more determined, or more desperate? Complete an honest check of your self-talk, and if it is not befitting of someone who knows that God is in control, go back to #1 listed above.
3. Offer resources. One of the biggest fears of non-homeschool parents, and I believe it is why the term “mandatory homeschooling” is now common, is that kids will be behind having missed so much of formal classes. Of course, you can follow this trail toward all types of debate, like what school districts had funds for student laptops and iPads versus those districts who will be further disenfranchised, etc. So as you know of resources for the family that wants to do something while out of school, share reading lists, websites, virtual tours, or online classes, preferably at low or no-cost. I share a few links below. Remember again that most parents in this situation were largely unprepared, including financial preparation. If you teach on Outschool or Zoom or other online platforms, consider offering your class for free, if possible.
4. Tutor. Please follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for sizing of group gatherings. Small, one-on-one, or open air settings might alleviate a parent’s concerns that his or her child will not be able to close the academic gap upon return to school.
5. Talk to others about the HOME in homeschool. Anyone who has homeschooled for more than one year knows that it is not as simple as buying books, or watching YouTube videos. It is a change of lifestyle that takes time for everyone involved to make the necessary adjustment. Encourage parents to become more intentional about family time. There are also fantastic read-aloud series, nature walks, family movies, puzzles and games for edu-tainment.
6. Finally, look for people whom you can help. I was blessed to read, through another IG friend, of a young lady’s opportunity to bless an older couple. It seems that the couple feared grocery shopping because of their age and associated vulnerability to this virus. They asked a young lady whom they felt was the “right person” to shop for them, which she gladly did and happily returned with groceries and change. My point is, who can you be a blessing to that is in a more precarious position than you? How about that older couple who lives near you, or another family whose child’s immune system is compromised? Seek to walk out Jesus in shoe leather.
We are sojourners, traveling through a fallen world with a desperate need for salvation. Even though this is not our home, let us try to leave it better than we found it.