When my firstborn son was a toddler, I had a particularly memorable bad dream. I was with a small group of familiar faces. In the way that only makes sense in dreams, we knew we needed to get to a certain destination and we were headed in that (ambiguous) direction. Determined though we were, around every corner of our journey we were met by another life-threatening obstacle. Quicksand, falling rocks, medieval weaponry—the obstacles became more and more terrifying and relentless. In the dream, I remember feeling real fear. I also began to dread the next turn in the journey because I knew something else was coming, most likely more awful than the previous passage.
Being quarantined with two rambunctious little boys and a nursing ‘round the clock newborn has been equal parts wonderful and exhausting. The gift of togetherness has been such a blessing to us as we’ve transitioned to a family of five and learned our new normal along with the rest of the world.
For the first few weeks of quarantine, my two- and four-year-old didn't seem to notice too much how much life has changed recently. They randomly ask about our routine outings (COSI, the zoo, etc.) and their friends, but we've kept ourselves busy at home and with (short and loud) hiking trips. But as the weeks drag on, I can tell my people are starting to feel a difference in our daily lives, even if they can't articulate it. It's getting easier for them to slip in to a place of boredom and restlessness that gives way to some less pleasant behaviors.
As a technology teacher to elementary students and mother of three, it is obvious to me that there has been a major shift in children and technology in recent years. The majority of children I know have constant access to screens of some kind: computers, tablets, and smartphones. This has created a whole new facet of parenting and education.
I am now finishing my 30th year of teaching and, wow, how the time has flown! I so clearly remember starting my current job as the “new kid on the block” all those years ago. I remember being overwhelmed with how much I had to learn. From the first day in the classroom, though, I knew that I was right where God wanted me to be, and I knew that I was going to love being there.
"I leave everyday because it’s better for our family: 2 to 3 weeks together at least?"
"But we had plans!"
"My family isn’t all together, do they come home?"
"Do they come over?"
"It can’t be that big a deal could it? Is it?"
Fear. Freak out. Preparedness. Problem solving. Financial stress.
We all handle unexpected circumstances and difficult moments in our own way.
The range of emotions and feelings will vary due to the place you are living in your family right now. Needs are different for all of us and how we accept, interpret and handle this time will look different as well.
There seems to be a growing sense of apathy because of all the change, uncertainty, unpredictability that we are living in these days. None of us know what's really going to happen or how it's going to happen, so it can feel hard to get excited and look forward to things that we've been expecting. If you are finding yourself feeling anxious or unmotivated or apathetic, know that you are not alone. It is helpful to identify these feelings and even share them with a trusted friend.
Whether it's distance learning, a summer in which all group activities are cancelled, or just another day at home, your middle schooler likely has some spare time on their hands. What are some ways middle schoolers can stay engaged with learning in meaningful (and enjoyable) ways when they find themselves with "nothing to do"? Sure there are countless video games, movies and TV shows available at their fingertips, but what are some more constructive ways middle schoolers can use screen time for learning and growing? Below are some teacher-recommended ways to keep middle schoolers engaged:
I wish I could say I was a particularly spiritual child, but I wasn’t. In fact, I basically hated Sundays. It wasn’t the morning and evening church services I didn’t like—it was the in-between. My parents were quite strict about that time of the week: no play dates, no school work, no sporting events, no television, no eating out, required naps, etc. These Sabbath day practices felt unbearable to me. So as soon as I was old enough to make my own decisions, I dropped all of those Sabbath rules.
I've recently taken on the following activities as "assignments" for myself. This is in no way an exhaustive list of possible summer activities--you won't find day trips to the pool or beach, family vacations, or cookouts with friends on this list of "summer assignments" (though those may appear on a different list of summer fun!). And these are not necessarily measurable action items that can be checked off of a to-do list upon completion. You may want to practice some of these things once (or several!) times per day, while others may be more sporadic or peppered throughout your week.
Amidst all of the difficult and heartbreaking things happening in our world today, there is a new, unique beauty emerging. And I believe there’s something we can all gain from it. I wonder if, perhaps, we will all be able to see the big picture a little more clearly in the future.
Parents, teachers, and students have had to make significant adjustments to a new normal in recent weeks. We are all feeling these adjustments in various ways: limited our out-of-home movement, restricted in-person social interaction, and endless cancelled activities and plans. And perhaps one of the biggest shifts is working and studying at home.