By Michelle Nietert, Crosswalk.com
In the midst of a pandemic, how do we parent peacefully when so many of our kids are starting school at home? You may have been hoping that they would be back in person school by now, and are struggling with the transition and its demands.
Here are 6 tips to get started, but know that it begins with you--the parent!
Firstly, pray for yourself as the parent, by asking God specifically for the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Pray for wisdom and direction as you work to educate your child in the best way possible (James 1:5). And acknowledge that circumstances and resources may look very different during this season.
Secondly, pray specifically for your child, that they will continue to grow in wisdom and stature and favor with man as a reflection of Jesus (Luke 2:52). Pray that they would have patience, bear the fruit of the Spirit, along with the flexibility that is needed in a season of unpredictable changes that continues to affect their education--including even how you are approaching their learning.
2. Plan with the End Results in Mind
Imagine this. You walk in the schoolroom in your house not stressed, but at peace. You hear pencils writing fast with the frequent giggle as determination and a learning spirit fill your child.
The concept that took you hours researching on YouTube to teach to your child has paid off and learning at home... isn’t bad. You see your child every day, you are investing in their life differently, you learn how their mind works.
You even get to incorporate God’s Word into what they are learning. You can confidently say that learning at home most days has been good.
Now that is a great vision you can work towards creating for your future. Can you work back from that? How do you get there? Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says “Where there is no vision, the people perish...”
Pray for a vision of what the Lord wants this year to look like. Pray for ways you can help your child thrive and love learning. And then pray for the wisdom to know what steps need to be taken and what habits need to be started to get there.
Prepare your heart to be a light. Prepare your heart because our kids already all learn differently and as this process starts, how they learn will look more different than usual.
If you are working with an educational system, prepare your heart to support the system, encourage the teachers, and interact well within it while asking for help when you need it. If you are doing school at home, prepare your home for your child to learn well. Thoroughly think through how you can create an environment that is conducive to how they best learn.
Two questions I am constantly asking my counseling clients are “How can we make this easier?” and “How can we make this more pleasurable/fun?” These are good questions to continually ask our kids throughout the year as they begin school at home or online.
Prepare your child. If they are doing school online, talk through your expectations for them, what the year will look like, and how being a learner and a student is a God-given purpose (Colossians 3:23).
If your child is going to school, have them try on different masks and shields to see which ones they feel the most comfortable in and practice wearing them for longer periods of time. Help them understand the idea that they will see other people in masks by possibly going to a restaurant where there are groups of people.
Many of us have kept our kids quarantined this summer, but if they are soon returning to a public setting it is important that we expose them to that setting and school requirements prior to school starting.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Iam Anupong
4. Process Your Emotions
If you want to help your kids process their emotions, it is really vital that you process your own first. Process emotions might look like:
- Working through the grief and disappointment of what you thought the school year might look like
- Understanding and seeking to find peace about the decisions that are beyond your control.
- Embracing the idea that you may be more responsible for your child’s education than you have been in the past
After you have processed your emotions, you should begin to process problem solving to move into action steps.
Then you can help your kids process their emotions. Some kids may be excited to be doing school at home while others may really struggle.
Now you have prayed, planned, prepared, and processed. We then want to practice positivity and flexibility.
We cannot always control our circumstances but we can control our response to that circumstance which requires us to practice positivity. This is an opportunity to practice and model that for our kids.
Yes, there are going to be moments of frustration and yes, an assignment is not going to be received that was completed. We must choose to practice the process of patience and positivity with each other. We must commit to doing so, and it can even be helpful to talk through how you and your kids will practice this.
On the other hand, practicing flexibility might mean a lot of different things to different people. For my family, we are going to start with my son in the public school system, but if the way it works and how they deliver it is not something we can adapt to I may embrace an online homeschool program or pull the curriculum that is used in my daughter’s private school.
Practicing flexibility with our kids may be starting with one schedule and then realizing we may need a different schedule.
5. Pull in Additional Help When Needed
“I want to do online school and I requested that my child be in a class with his best friend so that his mom and I can team together to educate both kids and get the work done.”
Don’t just count your village. It may be possible and very practical to create a smaller COVID setting where you aren’t exposing your child to all the kids in a classroom, yet you're still giving your child a smaller social learning environment by teaming up with a couple of different moms.
Maybe you have never done anything like this before and it’s not your general M.O. You may have to reach out to your neighborhood Facebook group and ask if there are other moms who have kids with certain ages that are interested in working together.
There are also people like me who have a hybrid school system that does part of the school day at school and the other part at home. We are used to the school driving the assignments and yet the kids have to complete them during a school day.
You can also pull in additional resources. There are plenty of moms who have done homeschool who can help you begin the process. Personally, I am seeing curriculum being created nonstop and would love to give you resources towards that.
6. Put aside the Worries of This World for the Bigger Picture
Put aside the worries of this world and focus on an eternal perspective that is loving your children and preparing them to fulfill their purposes on God’s earth (Matthew 6:20).
In this midst of all this, we cannot become distracted from our parenting purpose of helping our kids know they are loved, being vessels of God’s love to them, empowering them to know God, know his word, and love him.
This may be an opportunity to spend less time on some of the educational dynamics and more time focusing on this area in our lives. We need to be cautious that we do not get to worn out by the worries of this world that we forget the big picture.
If you specifically need help teaching your daughter that she is loved, check out my newest book releasing in September 2020, Loved and Cherished: 100 Devotions for Girls!, and click here for a free handout entitled "Are My Kids Okay?"
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Michelle Nietert, M.A., Licensed Professional Counselor and clinical director of Community Counseling Associates has been providing therapeutic interventions to children and their families in counseling offices for over 20 years. She is the coauthor of Loved and Cherished a devotional for girls and the cohost of the Raising Brave Beauties podcast. She also joins her audiences in the parenting trenches as a happily married mom of two school-aged children. To discover a wealth of faith-based mental health resources and podcast providing Solutions for Your Life, please visit www.MichelleNietert.com.