How our priorities and wish lists have changed in just a few weeks!
Moms and dads who were worn out from packed schedules and stressful jobs, who longed for more time with their children, are now...worn out from a houseful of antsy kids and the stress of trying to stay calm, stay positive, keep peace, and create constructive activities.
So, are you looking for ideas? What home-based projects that don’t cost a fortune can we launch with kids in the next few weeks?
Here are my ideas, liberally borrowed from friends and online sources.
1. Victory Garden. I am blessed to have a very creative friend from Omaha, Judy, who shared with me her inspired idea. The president called the fight against the virus a “war” we can win, and that phrase reminded Judy about the victory gardens popular during World War II. She believes victory gardens would provide a teachable moment for children during the current national emergency.
If you recall, victory gardens were planted during World War II to provide extra food for households but also as a powerful symbol of hope for a nation dwelling in uncertainty and fighting fear. The idea was, “We will survive, there is a bright future and we are diligently and patiently planning – and planting – for it.”
Judy believes a victory garden transmits an inspiring message to children, plus serves as a way to keep them busy outside, away from the tempting TV babysitter and other questionable screens. Tomatoes, peppers, peas, melons, as well as herbs, can be included in your garden. In some southern and western zones of the U.S., seeds can be planted right now. For middle and northern America, seedlings can be started indoors and moved outdoors in May.
And along with a garden can be incorporated several lessons for kids about the background of the victory garden and World War II itself, a pivotal episode in American history often neglected in today’s social-justice-saturated school curricula.
Judy was not alone in remembering victory gardens, although her idea is the first I’ve heard including an educational angle for children. The San Jose Mercury News recently featured a detailed article about victory gardens, here.
2. Fruits of the Spirit. Piggybacking on the victory garden or independent of it could be lessons about the “fruits of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23). And vegetable/fruit sections of your garden could be assigned to each quality—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (although maybe squash and tomatoes don’t belong in the “self-control” section. My tomatoes last year overwhelmed our vegetable bed!).
To cap it off, the center of each garden could feature one spectacular section of geraniums or marigolds to symbolize our Lord Jesus Christ and His bright and marvelous oversight of all creation.
Parents could develop Bible studies on the Galatians 5:22-23 qualities, familiarizing older children with the use of a concordance as they prepare family reports for dinnertime.
3. Memorization Games. One teaching method that has diminished in popularity today is memorization. It’s time to bring it back during the Corona confinement.
The advantages to children of memorizing tables, dates, lists, etc. is far-reaching, including academic discipline and quick mental access to data. Make it a game, with appropriate rewards, for memorizing all the state capitols, the elements of the periodic table, and addition/ multiplication tables.
Then for faith lessons, children can memorize the books of the Old Testament, then the New, as well as the tribes of Israel and the names of the apostles. And of course, memorizing key Bible passages is a critical tool of vibrant faith for all of us, since we are told this about the Word of God: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
I can share a personal testimony from my childhood in this regard. Despite the sporadic church attendance of my immediate family, when we visited my grandmother, she took me along to church and Sunday school every week. My Sunday school teacher challenged us to memorize Psalms 23 and 100. During my teen and early adult years, these verses would revisit my fallen-away conscience and their foundational truths spoke into my spirit about the essential character, protection, and love of God.
How precious this memory is for me, and it can be for your children later when we are past all this, or if they face some future crisis.
4. Life Skills. When kids are at home and chores pile up, it’s a good time to create lists of duties, a daily schedule and stick to it. These valuable life-management lessons can include teaching them how to do laundry, how to cook, picking up yard trash, making their beds, and feeding pets. You can even make a game out by inventing a “pretend family” with a fixed budget and teach them how to manage family finances.
5. Music Time. Okay, this is going to sound corny to some, but if you are at all musical, why not have family sing-alongs? Even if no one plays an instrument, you can sing along with the artist as you call up on YouTube timeless hymns or contemporary Christian songs, or even the anthems of historic Americana—“I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad” and such. It’s good to schedule this and certainly include the faith-based tunes in your Sunday at-home worship.
Let’s still remember to limit the use of online resources, though. Not only should children spend large parts of most days outside in the lovely spring weather, they should be allowed minimal online game or TV time, and of course, no web surfing unless carefully monitored with heavy filters in place.
6. Consider Permanent Homeschooling. Most projections show children remaining home for the remainder of the school this year. If you have not considered it before, now is a good time to think about permanent homeschooling. There are many advantages, one being an all-around higher quality education.
But another is to avoid the insidious harm that too often accompanies public school attendance these days, and it’s getting exponentially worse all the time. One of the great things about missing public school this spring is that your middle and high schoolers escape the long list of planned “LGBTQ” propaganda events, like the “Day of Silence” in April and May/June “pride” posters, assemblies and promotions. And many parents will be relieved they don’t have to opt kids out of porn-laden “comprehensive sex education” recently forced into many schools.
So what about homeschooling? Many are already projecting that more and more jobs are going to be done from home once employers realize the economic advantages, so the home-school option may not mean a missing paycheck in many households.
Here are some great home-school websites and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Eagle Forum has compiled an extensive resource list here. Home School Legal Defense has a how-to guide here. A friend of mine recommends Abeka. And there’s another great guide at Christian Education Initiative.
Let’s take advantage of this precious time with our kids and grandkids, and see it not as a huge burden but as the making of a lovely memory and a character-building opportunity.
Linda Harvey is president of Mission America.