We’re in the midst of quarantine during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our school hasn’t changed substantially– a few moving parts, but online classes and group discussions over the internet have been normal parts of our day for awhile. I have a bunch of friends, though, who are home schooling out of necessity. They’re interested in seeing what God is doing, but they’ve got some immediate challenges with such a huge paradigm shift of moving from traditional school to home school.
I thought I’d take the time to talk through one of the biggest surprises to me about schooling at home: crying children! Perhaps it will encourage you.
It didn’t take long to discover that kids cry a lot over schoolwork when they are at home. All of my kids cried over math, even though they all love math. They’ve all cried over writing assignments. I’ve felt every emotion when my kids cry over school: Perplexed, embarrassed, irritated, heartbroken. I used to feel guilty about all the crying. I know they wouldn’t cry like this at a “real” school. Kids there would laugh at them if they cried. They might get in trouble. There’s no time for crying, and some kids would kind of want to impress their teachers. Most kids will feel the social pressure to stuff the emotions inside and do the work.
What I figured out was that when kids are home, their feelings are closer to the surface. It’s not a bad thing in itself. We have time to slow down and actually deal with the emotions instead of hiding them, or letting them build up. The tears give me an opportunity to share with them what God is teaching me about finding my hope in God, biblical ideas on growth, faithfulness, success, responding to failure, and so on.
It does mean that some days we talk about trouble and discouragement as much as math or writing. I’ve grown comfortable with the emotions, because I figure learning what to do when I’m overwhelmed or discouraged is a vital part of becoming an adult. If walking that road with my children eases the journey, then I like what I’m doing. As they’ve gotten older, they don’t cry as much, but we still do get tears.
On the other hand, I’ve taken a new look at our emotional conversations since I’ve been talking with my friends who are suddenly schooling their children at home. I’m paying attention to my limitations. I can’t always erase their grief or emotions by talking about it, or by telling them to climb a tree, or by having them make a good lunch. I give the scripture and truth, and they’re still emotional and overwhelmed. Perhaps I need to take a lesson from the teachers in traditional school– sometimes you tell yourself truth, but then go do the work that you need to do. If we wait until we feel better to finish our responsibilities, we’ll be waiting a long time.
Yes, I still love being able to talk through some of those emotions with my children, but I’m also thankful for the reminder that setting emotions aside to do a job isn’t repressive or harmful, either!
In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25