How to Help Children Prepare for the Post-Quarantine School Year
Noah Webster, in his definition of uncertainty wrote, “The truth is not ascertained; The latest accounts have not removed the uncertainty.”
He sure got that right. It seems no matter where you look for answers these days, not only don’t the latest accounts remove the uncertainty, they seem to compound it.
For many Pennsylvanian children, March 13 was the last day of traditional school. Quarantine, social distancing, masks, and supply shortages have become their new normal. And parents have no lasting answers to the ambiguity surrounding our times.
For schools and families, wondering what the upcoming school year will look like is the very definition of uncertainty. For sure, every new school year brings a level of anxiety, but this year children may be feeling it more acutely under the shadow of COVID-19. Details are vague at best, even to the teachers and administrators of schools.
Here are four ways parents can help their children prepare for the upcoming school year.
ENGAGE IN HONEST, WISE, AND AGE-APPROPRIATE CONVERSATION.
The world is scary and bit surreal at the moment. The news is filled with statistics about new infections and death rates (not to mention rioting and destruction). People are going about their daily business donning masks. Stores are cordoned off and plexiglass creates a looming and forbidding barrier between customers and employees. It can feel a bit Orwellian.
In the midst of these absurd and unprecedented times, speaking to your children about COVID and other current issues must be processed with discernment and common sense, taking into account their age and personality. When 9/11 happened, our children were 8 and 12. The conversations we had with our twelve-year-old boy were very different from those we had with our eight-year-old girl. We were candid with both of them, but there were some statistics and images that we kept from our daughter because of her age, and because she was more sensitive and emotional than her brother. We wanted them both to understand the gravity of the situation, but at a level that did not cause either of them undue anxiety.
When discussing COVID and school, it is important to make every effort to stick to the facts, and avoid propagating theories or opinions that may only lead to needless confusion or suspicion. The leaders of the school have been given the weighty and arduous task of overseeing your children’s well being while they are in school, not to mention that of wading through the copious input from which they must make decisions.
KEEP YOUR OWN ANXIETY TO YOURSELF.
Parents are the barometer in the home. Children look to you for emotional safety. You may be feeling anxiety over the decisions you need to make about the upcoming school year, but it is important to exude an air of assurance in front of your children. Again, how much of your own confusion and trepidation you share with them must be discerned according to their age and personality.
If you are calm and confident about the school year, even in the midst of the uncertainty surrounding it, your children will be more prone to calmness and confidence when they head off to school.If you are calm and confident about the school year, even in the midst of the uncertainty surrounding it, your children will be more prone to calmness and confidence when they head off to school. Click To Tweet
PRACTICE WHAT TO EXPECT.
This is a good idea in typical circumstances, but even more crucial now. In addition to talking about school supplies, general school rules, and the excitement of seeing friends and teachers, begin discussing what all of that will look like under COVID. Young children, especially, will benefit from practicing protocols they’ll experience when they return to school.
Mask wearing has become a point of contention and division, even among believers. In this climate of division, teach your children to be respectful of other children whose families have different views. The biblical admonition toward kindness prevails, even in a pandemic.
Even as I write this, my heart is heavy from the surreal reality we find ourselves in. Maintaining an upbeat and confident air in front of your children will go a long way in helping them to meet the uncertainty of school with confidence and peace.
MAKE A SCRIPTURE LIST.
One certainty in the midst of COVID is that God’s Word provides all that we need to overcome fear in the midst of uncertainty. We must not let anything we are facing in these troubled times cause us to forget that God is sovereign and his word is a bastion against fear. Even his very name is a “strong tower” (Proverbs 18:10)!
Scripture lists raise a shelter of assurance in troubled times. Together with your children, formulate a list of scriptures you can refer to when anxiety begins to creep and niggle.
Here is an example of a Scripture list:
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanks-giving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
- When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)
- Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
- Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)
- Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Romans 8:39)
When the promises of God become your focus, a narrative will form that can serve as a bulwark against anxiousness, and act as a fear-quelling balm to your child’s unsettled heart— even in the midst of the uncertainty of this most unusual school year.
Dayspring Christian Academy is committed to equipping students as faith-filled, biblical thinkers who pursue Christian character, communicate confidently, innovate purposefully, and live courageously as tomorrow’s leaders. If you would like to view our reopening plan, please visit https://www.dayspringchristian.com/reopening-plan/
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