With the kids home all day, now might be a good time to take a tip from the best teachers.
I have been working with teachers for over 65 years. I've learned from them, I've supervised them, I've observed them as a consultant, and I've noticed that they all have one thing in common.
What is that? It's routines.
The best run classrooms depend on routines. These teachers start the year establishing routines that include how we greet each other in the morning, where we put our stuff, how we move from one place to the other, how we take out our books and materials, how we put them away and clean up, how we line up, how we ask questions, etc. They lock these routines in with practice.
These teachers know that the more routines the class has, the fewer discipline problems they will have to deal with. Kids feel safer, calmer and are more focused, and as a result there is more time spent on learning and less time spent dealing with problems.
Do yourself a favor during these trying times. Establish and maintain routines for the home. Set time schedules regarding getting up, dressing, eating, learning time, snack time, TV and screen time, chores, fun, play, and exercise. And, of course, bedtime. Be sure to include age-appropriate breaks from online learning and plenty of family relaxing. These are tough times.
You'll be surprised. Your kids can handle this. They will thrive on it. Many parents discover that they tend to expect much less of kids than what they can really handle. But, expect that they may rebel for a short time. That will go away if you consistently hold them to the routines and schedules.
It's important to remember that this works best when we involve the kids in setting these schedules. Sit with them, plan it out, and negotiate this together.
This usually fails and households become war zones when the parents simply announce, "There are going to be some new rules around here." I know it's tempting, but don't fall into that trap.
It's very possible that you may all look back on these times as something that tightened the love and bonding in your family.
Hezekiah had a cleaning problem.
You might remember good King Hezekiah of Judah. He was one of five good kings that ruled Judah during the period of the divided kingdom. His father, Ahaz was not one of the good ones. Ahaz observed that the Northern Kingdom of Israel had been carried away into captivity by the Assyrians, and that his army had been beaten by the Syrians. Rather than examining his relationship with the God of Abraham he figured that the gods of the Assyrians and Syrians must be more powerful than God so he put altars to these gods on the streets of Jerusalem and got rid of the worship fixtures of the temple.
So Hezekiah has a cleaning problem. He needs to rededicate the temple by purifying it and consecrating the priesthood. How do you purify a temple? Purell? Lysol? Soap and water? In Exodus 29 we can read about dedicating priests. Here Aaron is consecrated as high priest and the Levites as priests and helpers. They wear special ceremonial garments and are anointed with oil. They are also sprinkled with…blood. And with a dab of blood behind the ear, on the right thumb, and the right toe. This was a sprinkle and was probably washed out with bleach awaiting the next consecration. So you get rid of the impurities and sprinkle blood for purifying.
As it happened the priesthood was consecrated and the temple and its belongings were cleaned within 16 days. Following the cleaning a national Passover was announced for Judah and the remnants of the northern kingdom. As part of the Passover was the sacrificing of hundreds of animals for the sin of the people. In fact, so many animals were sacrificed that the priests had to recruit additional Levites to help with skinning the animals.
I think about Hezekiah’s devotion and the work of the priesthood to get the temple in order for worship and compare it to our own predicament we as a nation face with COVID-19. We are told to stay in place with minimal social engagement keeping a social safe distance of 6 feet. Time limit may be more than 16 days. Many of our fellow citizens will lose income and jobs. Many will sicken and die from this virus. And we need to cleanse and purify our surroundings and ourselves. We still live with the uncertainty about the longevity, lethality, and communicative ability of the virus. We depend upon following the instructions of our government and medical personnel to make the right calls. It’s enough to challenge our faith and trust in God.
That is a mistake we should not make. We need to remember that all things are in God’s hands including the well-being of his people. David prayed and stopped the angel of death, Hezekiah prayed and the angel of death defeated his enemies saving the nation. We need to remember to pray. Prayer can defend us and bring to a close this ravaging virus. God can cleanse his people. Read the words from 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek by face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” If God says it, it’s a promise. He can bring this virus to an end.