Our son was diagnosed with leukemia a month shy of his kindergarten graduation. During his treatment, I educated Daniel and his twin sister, Caroline, at home. Prior to cancer, home schooling had not been on my radar. I replicated what I remembered from my first-grade classroom experience: The ABCs wrapped around the top of our schoolroom, the American flag stood next to our chalkboard for the morning pledge and each day began with a corporate recitation of the Lord's Prayer.
On our first day, we had begun in prayer, said our pledge and recited the alphabet. "Seems like a perfect time for a snack!" I exclaimed. Before walking to the kitchen, I set a worksheet on the desks of my two little scholars. "Y'all just read this," I instructed, "and we will go over your answers when Mommy gets back."
Sauntering into our makeshift classroom moments later, I observed Caroline and Daniel looking at their worksheets in bewilderment. It then dawned on me, "These children don't know how to read." I set the snacks down and raced to phone my husband. "Lee," I gasped. "Do you realize I have to teach our children to read?" Thus began our family's home school journey.
Perhaps a few of my feelings then are resonating with you now. Although my initial graduating class members are in their freshman year of college, I'm back in the saddle again with our youngest. God's help in the past strengthens my faith in the present. I thought I would pass along some lessons I'm reapplying to hopefully make your unexpected home schooling days more encouraging.
1. Admit God has given you more than you can handle. I recall when a nurse came into Daniel's hospital room and told me, "God will never give you a burden greater than you can bear." Actually, that's not true. If the Lord didn't give us a burden bigger than we could handle, we would not have to depend on Him. Cancer, coronavirus and instructing our own children amidst calls to "shelter in place" are all bigger than us. I would suggest this be the foundation of your family's crisis home school curricula. This whole pandemic is not about our sufficiency—but His. My husband and I continue to learn that the best way for our children to develop an active trust in Christ Jesus is by witnessing ours. Begin each day as a family surrendering your hearts to His sovereign will in prayer.
2. Acknowledge your need for daily reliance upon the absolute promises of God. Every trial is an opportunity to trust His protection and perfect love. God knows our faith muscles grow best against resistance, and making time daily in His Word is vital for toning—and survival. Second Timothy 3:16-17 exhorts us, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Let your children observe you seeking wisdom and strength from the unchanging truth that is God's Word. Read five chapters of Psalms a day and one chapter of Proverbs aloud as a family. You will be able to get through both books of the Bible in a month. Perhaps choose a Scripture verse a week to memorize. Stick John 14:6 on a refrigerator door, bathroom mirror or anyplace most traveled to help hide God's Word in your hearts.
3. Act out—and on—His truth. Ditch the worksheets and strive to inspire your class to live out God's Word in their lives. After studying Ephesians 6:10-18 together, invite your undergraduates to raid your attic and closet for belts, shoes, old helmets and protective chest gear—encourage them to fashion colorful shields and tin-foil swords. Then let them play dress up as they remind you what it means to "Put on the whole armor of God" (v. 11a). This is also an ideal time to study the life of Noah. He was ordered to "shelter in place" for 370 days. Read Genesis 6-9 and pretend you are Noah responding to God. Build a boat out of sheets and throw pillows, and add stuffed animals. Noah's example encourages us all to rest on the promises of God as we face challenges life will bring.
Because the Bible tells us so, we can know that every circumstance in our lives—from viral pandemics to pop-up home schooling—is under His control. Jesus' faithfulness didn't fail yesterday. It hasn't today. And it won't tomorrow.
Tara McClary Reeves is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, patriot, award-winning children's book author, speaker and passionate teacher of the joys and challenges that come with being a committed follower of Jesus Christ. Tara lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, with her husband, Lee, and their three children. She considers it a privilege to point her children—and others—to Jesus every day. You can find her book Point Me to Jesus here: PointMetoJesus.
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