Apr28TueFive lessons to teach your kids that will make them better people after the pandemic. April 28, 2020 Captain Bhreagh Rowe
Most of us are entering week six or seven of—whatever this is. Hopefully, you are starting to get used to this temporary normal. If you are like me, the first week felt like a month. Everything was sad, scary and I didn’t have a sweet clue what I was doing. But now life has become a little calmer, a little less fearful, and maybe, just maybe, you are starting to see some joy.
I am not a homeschooler. I am not a gifted teacher. Most days I have the patience of Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. My boys don’t like anything that involves sitting, focus or seriousness. In normal times, I live by schedules and rhythms, but I quickly realized that this was not the time to implement a new schedule if there were any hope of us making it through alive and still semi-liking each other.
Although social media was full of amazing ideas and suggestions, none of them seemed realistic (and probably were not even happening in the homes of those who created them—just saying). I had to figure out what worked for us and, most importantly, what our priorities were during this time.
For our family, this was not a time to worry about numbers, letters and colours. It was not a time to try and “keep up” with regular schoolwork or “keep up with the Joneses.” It wasn’t a time for colour-coded schedules, brand-new routines and high expectations. This was a time for three things: to grow closer to God, to grow closer to each other and “get through it.”
When my kids are grown and gone, I don’t want to look back and say, “Yes, my kid was the best at math and could spell big words.” I do, however, want to look back and say I did everything humanly possible to teach and show my kids the most important thing in life—to love God and love our neighbours. Period.
So, with that in mind, here are five things we can teach our kids during this time that will make them better people when they return to school.
1. Bible Time
Now that the boys are out of school, this has been the most important addition to our day. Learning and reading the Bible is one of the greatest skills we can teach our children, no matter what age. Some churches like to refer to the Bible as a “manual” or something you pull out when you have a problem or question. I want my kids to see the Bible as the beautiful story it is, one that teaches them about a God who loves, equips and expects a lot from them. Here are some resources we use every day:
My two-year-old does the dishes, my four-year-old strips bed sheets. It’s messy, stuff gets broken and there’s usually water everywhere, but they do it. My kids have always had chores to do around the house, but with school out and them at home, it has been the perfect time to teach them additional responsibility—and they love it!
This one has become an essential in our house, because Mom and Dad still have to work and serve. Most of our weekly programs are still running online, and our food bank is open. Obviously, lots of precautions are in place, but stocking and running the food bank has turned into a family affair. Try searching “ways to serve during the pandemic”—there are a million ideas. Use this time to teach your kids the importance and commandment to love our neighbours.
Kids are probably hearing the word “prayer” now more than ever, even if they are church kids. Everybody is saying we need to pray for each other. There are international prayer movements coming out every day. But nothing matters more than teaching your kids what prayer is, how to pray and why it’s important. This skill will long outlast anything else you ever teach them.
Anyone else love how simple this Easter was? What about birthdays? Isn’t it nice to have no expectations and work with what’ve got in your own home? This beautiful gift of simplicity is another lesson that will benefit our kids long after this pandemic is gone. Simple food, simple activities, simple play times, simple birthdays, simple celebrations. Even though the world seems more complicated, many things are simpler. This is a valuable lesson, even if it may have been forced on us.
Maybe you were hoping for more ideas to fill your time or less gospel-centred ideas. But the reality is that many activities fall by the wayside because of our busy lives and schedules. Now is the time to reset. Now is the time to rethink priorities. Now is the time to decide what your life will look like when this is all done. Now is the time to teach your kids the lessons that will make them smarter, stronger and more stable when this is all over.
Press the reset button. Refocus everything back to where it should be. Refuse to go back to normal.
Captain Bhreagh Rowe is the corps officer and community ministries officer at The Salvation Army’s Cornerstone Community Church in Mississauga, Ont. She will take up a new appointment as community ministries officer at St. Albert Church and Community Centre, Alta., as of August 17, 2020.