hope what our kids need right now

What Kids Need Right Now

Faith Family

hope what our kids need right nowIt seems like life will never return to normal. Our kids aren’t sure when they’ll get their lives back. If your kids are like mine, they are timid about approaching anyone now because everyone is so focused on “social distancing” and “staying apart” to avoid the virus.

My son has angry outbursts because, in his logical mind, none of this makes sense. And I have to agree with him. However, I can’t change the response to this pandemic. I can’t change the fact that I’m required to wear a mask to go buy food. I hate it and feel it is a complete waste of my time. However, I respect others who feel this is the best choice for them.

But this article isn’t about how I feel about masks. It’s about what kids need in times of struggle and uncertainty.
I’m an expert in being one of those kids. My childhood was filled with tough situations and a particular year similar to this year (not a pandemic, but a year of illness and trauma) stands out. I shared a version of this on my Facebook page, and it received a remarkable response.

That’s why I so deeply believe in the work of God. He gives us struggles to help others have hope. And that’s what our kids need right now more than anything else – hope. 

I saw a friend share pictures of her cute space for her first year of homeschooling, and immediately, someone told her she was going to harm her kids with this move.
None of us have the answers to what’s right for other people’s children right now. I personally wouldn’t send my kids to school this year for many reasons. And that’s MY choice. Our family has to do what’s right for us. And so do you. 
I believe that’s the first thing we need to do for our kids right now – what’s right for OUR family right now. This helps us prepare our kids to make decisions for themselves one day. We can seek counsel, but ultimately, we own our choices and decisions.
The second thing our kids need right now is for us to not panic about their “future” and “falling behind.” Kids are resilient and catching up in subjects is remarkable with maturity.

One superintendent of schools in Ithaca, New York dropped MATH from the elementary school curriculum in 1929. The class was replaced with “recitation” where students discussed their lives and interests. They were also given instruction in counting and measurement.

The students – who came from the poorest neighborhoods – were tested in sixth grade at the beginning of the year with no formal math instruction and at the end of a year of formal math instruction.

The students in the experimental classes performed better than traditionally educated students on story problems – i.e. “real world math” than on the formulaic operations at the beginning of the year. After a year of arithmetic instruction, they still performed better on story problems AND they completely caught up on their operations and other traditional math. The reasoning is that kids figure out math basic math when their
Read more about the experiment in this article from Psychology Today.
Now, for that story about my pivotal year of school.  When I was in fourth grade, I had strep throat five or six times, pneumonia, multiple sinus infections, and I lost my brother to a tragic accident.
My teacher was AWFUL to me the entire year. I went from being a straight-A student to barely passing. I thought I was stupid and that there was something wrong with me for getting so sick.
The only real constant in my life was my books. I devoured them. I didn’t feel so lonely and found hope in stories like Anne of Green Gables, The Indian in the Cupboard, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and many others. I read on the playground and at the lunch table.
My parents tried everything to get me out of that toxic class environment, but back then there weren’t many options other than private school. So, they scraped the money together and I went the last 3 months to a Catholic school.
I had to leave at 6 in the morning and didn’t get picked up until 4. It was exhausting, but I didn’t feel stupid anymore. I went back to making excellent grades and feeling challenged at school.
However, when I look back on that time, I wonder if the best thing for me would have been a home learning program; something scaled back to math practice and reading great books. Despite my terrible fourth grade year, the clouds cleared and I was well prepared for fifth grade at a new school.
I know it seems like nothing makes sense right now, but kids really thrive when they know we parents are their constant. I know it’s hard to be around your kids all day. I’m ready to send mine to boarding school on a weekly basis, but this time will pass. And they will be ok. That’s something they really need to know – YOU are their constant. 
Don’t buy into the fear that they will have permanent damage from missing some in-person class time. It’s a fear-based narrative that makes our kids stressed. They feed on our anxiety.
It’s enough for most of us right now to keep food and shelter in place. Our kids need to know they are not the cause of this stress. They need to feel loved and important. 
Our kids also need to know they are a contributing member of our family. Give them responsibilities! I’ve recently picked up my freelance workload because we’ve had unprecedented repairs to some of our vehicles, and it’s eaten through our cushion.
We sat our kids down and told them that they are contributing members of our family business. They have really stepped up and handled so many of the daily things. They are learning skills that will serve them long after they leave our house. And they like feeling accomplished.
Book reports and group projects will still be there when the clouds of COVID clear. We’ll be starting school in September just like I used to do.
It’s also important to remember that schools are a modern invention. Families were a learning and working unit far before the idea developed to send kids away to get an education.
I believe deeply in education and commend all parents for being so concerned for their kids, but we’re in a time of great societal change and unrest. We all need to remember that there’s an end to this, and the best way to get through it is to find the hope in each day. Our kids will be thankful for this lesson when they have to face a hard life circumstance on their own.
I’ll finish with a story. I didn’t think it was right to laugh after my brother died. A week later we went to the movies and I laughed at Home Alone. It felt like I was alive again after so many months of illness and sadness.
Don’t forget to laugh and smile with your kids. They need it now more than ever.
May God bless each of you!

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