Are you wondering if your kids are going to learn anything this year with everything going on? It will be an unpredictable school year, no one knows how it’s going to work, and it feels like our kids will be paying the price. There are no easy solutions, whether they are in-person learning, e-learning, or homeschooling. But just because it won’t be the same as previous years doesn’t mean that this will be a wasted year. A crisis just means there will be new opportunities for growth.
There are a few ways to make the best of this school year and keep your kids’ brains growing, even if the school year is full of interruptions and changes.
1. Read and read a lot. The pandemic might be keeping us in our homes more, but reading books opens the whole world to our kids no matter where they are. Kids who read a lot develop more empathy as it helps them see life from another person’s point of view. It grows their vocabulary and grammar skills. Your kids are never too old to be read aloud to, so grab that novel and start reading! If you have kids who struggle with reading, they might enjoy audio books better. Listening to books counts, too! The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Proverbs 4:7
2. Get them outside. There is something about being close to nature that draws our hearts to God and reminds us of our humanity. Kids who spend a lot of time in nature have less anxiety and depression, while having more confidence, imagination, and creativity. Bonus: the extra Vitamin D from the sun will help strengthen their immune systems! But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10
3. Enjoy family meals. The details of what you serve and how you serve aren’t important. The key is extended time around the table for healthy conversation. Good discussions with adults are so valuable in growing our kids’ hearts and minds.
Joe and Tara Buchanan have four kids, ages 10-19, and they have been a home-educating family for more than 15 years. Tara shares more homeschooling encouragement on their blog, Behind Our Smiles.
They learn how to listen well, how to disagree politely, how to empathize with others. Take turns blessing the food and sharing prayer requests. Read a scripture together, and listen to what God is doing in your kids’ lives. And don’t forget to laugh a lot! Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching. Proverbs 1:8
4. Play games. Playing a variety of family board games or card games is a fun way to build family memories and learn new skills. Games help kids practice counting, spelling, memorizing, and thinking logically. They also learn life skills like taking turns, dealing with disappointment, winning gracefully, and making the best of the cards they are dealt. Pull out those games that might be gathering dust, and have family game night more often!
5. Pray for your kids. Your kids will need extra encouragement this year as they deal with more uncertainty and change. Encourage them when you see them growing and rising to the challenges they face. Give extra grace and understanding. Most importantly, pray for your kids and their school year. Pray that they will see God working for their good even with tough circumstances. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
One thing COVID has taught all of us is that we are not in control! Only God knows the future, and He still has an amazing plan for your kids. When our lives are surrendered to Him, nothing is wasted!
Extra resources as you prepare for this year:
Unexpected Homeschooling: Tips for Teaching Kids at Home
Prayers to pray over your kids’ school year
Praying through school decisions