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God – Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic 1.5 billion children and 60 million teachers around the globe are not in schools. In America 30 million public school students are now in need of learning at home. Their parents who need to be earning a living outside the home are now learning to teach their children inside the home. Even if children have a parent who is a public school teacher, teaching at home is so very different and more challenging than in the classroom.
Polio became my stay-at-home order which required me to be home schooled from ages 7-11. Dorothy Carlton, a Pioneer in homebound teaching, was brought into my home by the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District to be my teacher. Mrs. Carlton’s visits to my home for those 5 years taught me many lessons in learning to share with others today.
First, Mrs. Carlton and my mother brought a desk from school to my home. The screened in porch became my classroom. But, at least I had a desk like all the other students had in public school. The important thing was not that I had the normal school desk. The important thing was that Mrs. Carlton and my mother made me a room or place in my home which was suitable for learning. This was the place in which to learn. It was safe. It was quiet. It was mine. So, God, please help all parents to find suitable places in their homes for their children to learn.
Second, Mrs. Carlton, put in place for me a daily and weekly schedule to be with her. When I was not with her, it was my responsibility to get my homework done. Her responsibility was to teach. My responsibility was to learn. Over time my mind, spirit, and body became in sync with this structured routine. Though difficult at first, over time it became more natural. My nature was to become a better student each day. So, God, please help all parents establish a consistent daily schedule for learning, including a time for play.
Third, although Mrs. Carlton had a clearly defined in-home classroom schedule, each day she made allowances for my personal and mental health. Like their parents, kids have good days and bad days as well. So, God, please help parents in their homes to have a set schedule. But, help parents to remember that having a set schedule is not as important as having, building, and maintaining a good relationship with their children. Please help them discern when flexibility is needed and how to avoid the kind of words and rigidity which cause harm. To their children’s hearts. To their children’s minds. To their children’s desperate need to have a loving relationship with their parents.
Fourth, God, every child is a precious gift from You. In every child there are treasures and talents to be found, nurtured, and developed. No parent or teacher should diminish the beautiful and sacred gifts within the children You have bestowed in them. I am reminded of Anita Wheatcroft, wife of the Episcopal priest, the Rev. Richard Wheatcroft of St. Francis Episcopal Church Houston. One of the gifts You gave her was creative writing. In that gift she was born left-handed in nature. During that time in history being left-handed was scorned and squelched when possible by parents and teachers. In her childhood Anita’s nanny was instructed to tie Anita’s left-hand behind her back forcing her to use her right hand all day. Anita overcame all of that as an adult and became a successful author of children’s books. Not every child is able to overcome the stronghold a parent or teacher can place on the flowering of a child’s inner gifts and talents. So, God, please help parents nurture their children’s nature and natural talents.
Fifth, in 2020, it seems like a poor reward for a teacher to give to a student. But, I cannot tell You, God, what it meant to me when Mrs. Carlton gave me those sticky Gold Stars to reward my achievements, even the small ones. Each time she placed a Gold Star on a satisfactory homework or test page, it said to me, “You are a good boy.” So, God please help parents to show their appreciation to their children when they succeed in tasks well done.
Sixth, my teacher, Mrs. Carlton, loved to teach. So I, as her student, loved to learn. Students, including children at home, do not learn from people they do not like, including their parents. So, God, so please help all parents display joy, zest, and love for learning to their children.
Seventh, God please help parents learn and practice patience in the teaching of their children. Please help parents who teach to schedule their own times for rest and relaxation. All work and no play is not good for children or for their parents.
Eighth, God, thankfully in parents educating their children at home, there is no separation of Church and State. That is because at home, the state of their relationship with You is most important and always worthy of celebration and observation. So, God, please encourage all parents who teach their children at home to schedule daily prayer and Scripture reading to be with You.
God, You are the best teacher for all Your children. May all parents lead, learn, and love by Your amazing Grace and perfect example. Please guide all parents in teaching and learning to love at home. In that way their children will learn to love and serve You. Amen.
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.