Hope Rises

During this troubling time, it is easy to focus on all that’s going wrong: the hoarding, refusal to stay home, sickness, death, shortage of supplies, separation from loved ones….the list goes on and on.

It would be easy to focus on the negatives,…but if you do that you miss the hope rising!

There is no shortage of negatives to focus on. However, among the negatives, hidden beneath all of the scariness are glimpses of hope. We simply have to look and be open to see them.

How many schools have we seen put together a hurried plan from scratch to not only continue educating kids at home, but also a plan to continue to feed them? How many restaurants have offered free meals to kids without any purchase requirements? I know that McAllister’s Deli and Burger King did not to mention countless local eateries. Along with places offering free meals, there are a large number of educational websites that are offering free usage to anyone so that kids can more easily keep up with their schooling. Websites like ABC Mouse and many others. You can find a complete list at this blog: https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/135609/list-of-education-companies-offering-free-subscriptions/ Most of these are websites that charge an annual fee, but they have waived it for the good of our society. No one asked or demanded that they did this. Goodness reaching out!

Churches from all over have taken to Facebook live, Zoom, Skype, and other live streaming services to continue with regular services, classes, and study groups. Zoom has offered their services free to schools and organizations so that they can video conference during the pandemic crises. This Sunday alone, my husband and I had a class, two of my children had classes, my oldest had youth group, and we had two worship services all online. People are finding a way to carry on with what they value and find important. Faithfulness finding a way!

Through the news and social media, we’ve seen people decorating windows of nursing homes, decorating sidewalks with encouraging chalk messages, putting Christmas lights back up to lift spirits, putting stuffed animals in windows so that children can “hunt” them during walks. We’ve seen people reaching out to help advise and encourage each other on social media. There are videos of grandparents meeting newborn grandchildren through windows, children visiting parents through windows while on phones, and scores of people video calling to keep up with family. Love overcoming distance!

During this crazy time when people could focus on themselves, authors like Andrew Peterson, Mac Barnett, and Pete the Cat creator James Dean to name a few, are reading their books aloud to kids via Facebook or Instagram. Musicians are giving free concerts. Just today I’ve seen Brad Paisley, Neil Diamond, Tim McGraw, Switchfoot, Steven Curtis Chapman, and so many more playing and singing on Facebook live. Reaching out and encouraging people in the best way they have; giving of themselves. Museums giving online tours, The Met giving free concerts, artists from local (Make Paducah, Ky) to famous (Mo Willems) offering free art lessons, Zoos offering close, live online encounters with zoo animals (Cincinnatti Zoo offering Home Saffaris). In fact, there is such an abundance of opportunities to explore right now, that there’s honestly no way to take advantage of them all. Joy emerging out of tragedy!

The fact is if you only look at the surface, the situation looks grim. It would be easy to focus on the negatives, the fear, the isolation, but if you do that you miss the hope rising. It’s there!! The goodness, faithfulness, love, joy and HOPE all still there ready for us to choose to focus on them! Let’s all agree to look for the good!! Look for the hope! Look for ways to pass on that hope!!

There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.

Dalai Lama XIV

Advice for Parents Now Schooling at Home

I have been a homeschooling mom for 8 years. None of my children have ever been to public school. I was also a public high school teacher for 10 years. I have schooled all grades pre-k through grade 7 at home for 1 to 5 children. There was a huge learning curve when I started because even though I had an education background…things at home do not and should not look like regular school. I thought that I would pass along some of the most important lessons that I learned while home educating.

Number 1: This is probably the most important lesson that I learned. It doesn’t take 8 hours to school your own children. I know that it takes that long at school, but there’s a lot that goes on that isn’t actual teaching. Not to mention that it takes longer to school 30 kids as opposed to 1…or 5. Seriously, 2-4 hours (four hours being high school kids) is very sufficient. I know that you may think this sounds like very little time, but I promise it is enough!

Number 2: School should be done and finished before lunch. I’ve tried numerous schedules over the years, but kids tend to get distracted after lunch. I have kids with ADD and ADHD and working when they are fresh is best. Plus, it is easy for me to get distracted after lunch. We usually leave educational videos, games, projects, and creative activities like art for after lunch. I also have time then to work on activities that I need to get finished: laundry, cleaning, preparing, and writing or reading of my own.

Number 3: You will not mess up your kids. I can hear you now, “But I know these homeschoolers that pulled their kids out of school and the kids didn’t do anything.” Yep. We all do. People who pull their kids out because they have an ulterior motive of some kind, don’t always do a great job. For the most part, however, people LOVE their kids and want the BEST for them. This means that they make sure that they do a good job. In the case of right now, many of you haven’t chosen to school at home and it won’t last forever. Any forward educational movement is a win!! You can’t undo all that teachers have done to this point!! Have faith in yourself!!!

Number 4: Do the fun things!! I am a true believer that learning should be fun! We are all home, we are all stuck, and we all have extra time…so go ahead! Do the fun things! One of the things that I have loved seeing in the corona virus crisis is that so many people are coming together to reach out and help. Zoos are doing Home Safaris, authors are reading their books, artists are teaching classes, teachers are doing demonstrations, performers are streaming performances and so many more!! Children have so many opportunities that they wouldn’t normally have if they were in school. Do it!!! Take the time and experience all of these!! You have no idea how much your student will learn or what ways it will inspire him or her.

Number 5: Do NOT compare yourself to other mommies or daddies!!!!!! In this time where social media is the ONLY way that we can reach out to each other, do NOT compare what you are doing to what someone else is doing. We are all doing the best we can with what we have during the time we have. And online pictures only show what the person wants you to see. Truly this is one of the moments that doing what works for you and your kids is so important. Don’t let what everyone else is doing bother you.

Number 6: MOST IMPORTANT!!!! Give yourself and your kids GRACE!! Some of you are experiencing extreme anxiety. Some of your kids are experiencing extreme anxiety. Everyone is probably experiencing stress to a degree. This is a huge adjustment for you and for your kids and its one that neither of you asked for. It may be that you only tackle one subject a day, or you only do math and language arts and science and history take a back seat, or you may focus on an area that you and your kid really like, or you may focus only on creative areas that your kid normally doesn’t get at school. Whatever it looks like for you, remember that forward motion is more motion than they would be getting if nothing was being done.

Moms and Dads, love your kids, have fun with your kids, teach your kids something…anything, and in this crazy, crazy time remember this is but a moment. It will end. We will return to normal. We will look back and remember this time with laughter and joy…..one day.