"School at Home!"

We did not homeschool our children. We are fortunate enough to live in communities that have excellent public schools. On occasions, many of these educators attended our church. We have five public school teachers in our family! Monique taught at Sherman Elementary for over 22 years, retired in 2013, and until recently (due to the stay-at-home mandate) has continued to substitute at the same school three to five times a week.  Our twin daughters are educators as well. Melissa has taught fifteen years and Michelle is in her thirteenth year. Dan, our son-in-law, is also a teacher and has six years of experience. The combined total of this ongoing instruction in the classroom is sixty-three years!  As you can see, we are a family of educators!
Eloise "Zooming" at home with her teacher and class!

Well, the COVID-19 Pandemic these days has shaken up the setting for education. It has moved from the school buildings of our communities into our homes. I realize that homeschoolers have already been in this setting for some time now, but it is true that things have changed for those of us who have had their children enrolled in a public or private school.

Another thing has changed these days as well. While many teachers are using the social media platform Zoom for their instructional tool, the parents are expected to be involved in the educational process too. This has been trying for students and parent educators as well because many parents who are teachers and those working mobile from home are also doing their "day jobs!"

Those parents who are not specifically trained as educators have experienced additional stressors. The approach and content to today's teaching have changed dramatically from when they attended classes twenty-five or more years ago! We have been amused to hear stories from our sons of the "burden" this puts on the parent. One son spends his days doing public-policy and persuading lawmakers on behalf of a not-for-profit and the other is immersed in projects that involve coding, programming, and graphic-designing skills. They are well-trained guys and educated for sure, but they have never spent any time in the classroom as the teacher nor have they spent much time proctoring their children's assignments! By the way, proctor comes from a Latin word meaning "manager!" 😂

In a sense, it has always been the responsibility of Christian parents to teach and train their children. There is a well-known verse from the Old Testament that states this expectation. "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6, ESV). This training involves instruction and discipline. The goal is to shape a child according to his or her divine design to live a life that is productive and pleasing to the Lord. Parents teach by precept, but also by modeling this God-pleasing life as well.

This verse is often misunderstood to be an exact promise or guarantee that if a child is instructed well, the outcome will certainly result in a life that always stays within the ways of the Lord. As parents can attest though, their children (usually during the teenage and young adult years), may have seasons when they go astray. This verse is better understood as having a predictive element within it. In most cases, when a parent is faithful to communicate Godly values to his or her child, it is predictable that even though the child may stray on occasions, in the end, they will come back into the fold of that earlier instruction.

This is a stressful season for children and parents! Let's be patient with each other as we try to accomplish school work and keep up with the assignments of our adult jobs, too. And as parents, let's not neglect to model and pass along the values and instruction of our faith. Children, as well as parent-educators, are being shaped for eternity by them! Could it be that God wants to help us re-discover the blessing of "school at home" in these days?!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


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