Could, Would, Should: Navigating Education and Parenting through COVID-19

I am a parent and an educator. Many of my friends are also parents and/or educators. This has not escaped the algorithms of social media – so I get a steady stream of posts, stories, webinar offers, online courses and lengthy commentaries about how we could, would and should be managing our children’s education during this time. 

If those weren’t enough to navigate… then, come the questions, conversations and predictions about when schools will be back in session, and what it could, would and should look like.

It doesn’t take long to find the spectrum of thought running from imposing strict homeschool schedules that keep your child 100% on track academically, to suggesting we release all expectation of academic routine and focus 100% of our attention on our child’s social and emotional wellbeing. 

We can find people who think schools should open today to others who argue that we should stay closed until the fall, or even for 12-18 months to avoid the second wave. 

I can quickly become overwhelmed in these types of conversations. I especially react poorly after subconsciously heaping expectations on myself about all the things that I could, would or should be doing – as a good parent and a good teacher! 

There are many amazing ideas out there that are actually worthy of consideration and pursuit – but, none of us can keep up with all of them! Our families, kids and classes, are all different. The best idea for your family or class, might not be the best idea for mine. But, it can be hard to discern that while still knee deep in the sea of information and conversation!

So, how do we manage it all?

In any other season, I’d likely be limiting my own exposure to social media, just to maintain my sanity. I might even call a full social media fast. But, with the reality of mandatory isolating and distancing, social media is a relational life line. I can’t just turn it off. 

So, here’s the general lens that I’m using to navigate all of this for myself:

First, I choose to remember that my wisdom needs to come from God and not from the opinions of others online. James 1:5 (ESV) says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” The very first thing I need to do when faced with all the coulds and woulds and shoulds is to stop and ask God to give me wisdom.

Second, I chose to remember that the very same God who says to train our children well, also says to not exasperate them! (See Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21). So, I need to do my best to parent well and set good standards, but also not push my child to the point of exasperation in this already stressful season. The balance of academic achievement and social/emotional well-being will look different for each child. I need to find the right mix in my own parenting.

Finally, I need to only worry about today! Matthew 6:34 (ESV) says “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” I don’t need to engage in a lot of worry or stress about what might come. Truthfully, we don’t know what’s coming next and for me, engaging in a series of “what ifs” isn’t helping me navigate today well. It’s only making me preemptively anxious. In fact, it is distracting me from the issues that I really do need to address today.

So, my friends… the irony is not lost on me that I am adding another voice in the sea of information and communication around parenting and education in this season. SO, I’m going to be very intentional in not suggesting that you could, would or should approach any of this in the same way I do. But, if you find any of this helpful, please feel free to adopt a similar strategy. We are all in this together, but no one journey is going to look exactly the same. My hope is that you find wisdom, grace and peace in this season!

Originally published on the Community of Hope Blog at http://www.gethope.ca/blog/

 

Connection Matters

I teach Grade One and Two and I miss my students. I was already a little sad about just being away from them for a whole two weeks at Spring Break! I was not prepared to walk away from the classroom altogether. As it became obvious that school wasn’t coming back in session, I approached teaching online with as much strategic thought and enthusiasm as I could find.

Knowing that they all had different families with different resources, different schedules and different dynamics, I made the foundation for my class a very flexible daily challenge – a five point checklist that aimed to keep them working on the most important pieces of their education. Every day, my students are challenged to 1) Do some reading, 2) Do some writing, 3) Do something with numbers, 4) Do something creative, and 5) Do something physical.

As I started gathering resources to support them, I was feeling pretty confident that this list hit the most important things for my students!

Then I started making phone calls and was caught off guard by how emotional the calls were. On my third phone call, I told a little boy in my class how much I missed him and he started to cry. After an emotionally draining first day of calling my students, followed by a full week of teaching online, my takeaway is that no checklist of tasks can possibly cover the most important piece of our kids’ education!

It reminds me of a sermon from back when I was a teenager, where the pastor handed everyone a paper with a list of all the times the term “one another” was used in the New Testament – encourage one another, admonish one another, greet one another, speak to one another… It was a very long list – and for good reason. God made us to be in relationship with each other.

While you are socially isolating with your children, could I encourage you to remember that they may be carrying a sense of loss and grief over the closure of their classrooms and the loss (even temporarily) of those relationships. It is really important that they stay connected with other people. While some of that relational need can and will be met within your own home, please remember to look for connecting opportunities for your children and make the most of them! These are unique times and we really do need to lean into one another through them.

 

(originally published on the Community of Hope Church Blog at www.gethope.ca)