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Schools and families facing COVID-19 shutdowns

Schools are shutting down and kids are home. Now what? Many of our WELS schools are seeking to offer solutions for learning opportunities and activities while students are home. The WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools (CLS) has met with various members of schools’ leadership to brainstorm and share ideas.

First and foremost, Mr. Jim Rademan, director of CLS, says, “We are requesting that all our WELS schools follow CDC, state, and local guidelines regarding closures.”

Many schools are already working on plans to keep kids engaged in education during the shutdowns. “Several of our schools have been working very hard to engage children in continuous learning and have put together their plans and are willingly sharing those with others,” says Rademan.

CLS is working to compile plans, documents, and resources that schools can adapt for their own use. The list will grow and change as more information becomes available.

It’s unknown how long students will be out of school; it’s a moving target, but the key for schools is to find a way to connect with students during this time to cultivate ongoing learning, explains Rademan. Right now, there are more questions than answers as to how this will affect the school year and academics. Currently, the main priority is to keep communities healthy.

“Every state and every local district and every local school is going to need to adapt to the local culture and community that they’re in. The key is to communicate,” says Rademan. “We’re encouraging our schools to pay attention to their state instruction websites and local schools and figure out ways to connect with kids for continuous learning.”

Mrs. Cindi Holman, Early Childhood Ministry national coordinator, has provided some helpful tips for parents and families as they will now be home together. View tips for families.

“One recommendation is being really prudent about watching out for having the news on all day long. While it may look like your children are not paying attention, they’re hearing this,” says Holman. “Just the same way we can get overwhelmed and stressed by the constant barrage of information, the little ones don’t really know what to do with that kind of information.”

Holman says, “For parents, is it going to be challenging? Yes, it is, but we can really embrace this as a special treasured opportunity for families. In a time when we’re overscheduled and running all over all the time, this opportunity to have extended family time, I think, will bring tremendous blessings to families. It’ll take some adjustment, but I think it will bring great blessings.”

 

 

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Spiritual resources for uncertain times

As we find ourselves in uncertain times, with news of the spread of COVID-19 changing constantly, it’s important to remember where Christians find their faith, hope, and strength—our Savior, Jesus Christ.

“God’s Word is full of encouragement for all of us during this time,” says Mr. Bill Ziche, president of Northwestern Publishing House (NPH). “As you and your family find yourself at home, it is a wonderful opportunity for you—individually and as a family—to get into God’s Word and find peace.”

Northwestern Publishing House has many devotional books to help you, including:

All of these resources are available from Northwestern Publishing House, nph.net, or by calling 800-662-6022. Many are available as ebooks as well. NPH customer service lines are remaining open, and orders will continue to be filled.

WELS also offers many free devotional options, including a daily devotion that can be e-mailed directly to you.

“Besides offering you this encouragement from God’s Word, you can share these e-mail devotions with others,” says Rev. Eric Roecker, director of WELS Evangelism. “Think of the unchurched people you know who may be facing an unknown future without God’s great promises. You can be the one God uses to calm their fears with the assurances the Daily Devotions provide.”

Several articles from Forward in Christ magazine can also be found online, including five years of previous issues. Messages of hope and God’s help can be found in many of the articles, including this recent Teen Talk.

 

 

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Suggestions for Parents of Young Children

Mrs. Cindi Holman, Early Childhood Ministry national coordinator, has provided some helpful tips for parents and families as they will now be home together.

  • Routine: Routine makes children feel safe. Establish a routine for this new period. Avoid over-scheduling the day but have enough structure that your child feels a sense of security.
  • Daily Devotions/Bible Story: If you’re already in the routine of home devotions or Bible story time, continue. If not, this is a great time to start. Northwestern Publishing House has some wonderful resources. Your child’s teacher will have Bible story resources (for students at Lutheran schools) to help or simply pull out a children’s Bible story book.
  • Outside time: As weather permits and when possible, give your children time outside. Take walks together and allow them to play outside — encouraging social distancing.
  • Have a flexible daily schedule: Include active times and quiet times. Don’t expect to replicate the schedule and length of a school day. Be careful not to overemphasize academics but provide balanced activities. Reach out to your child’s teacher or caregiver for advice on age-appropriate activities.
  • Read, read, read! Read to your child everyday and multiple times of day. Provide a quiet book space for them to enjoy books as well. If your library closes, check out online resources such as books to listen to that can often be checked out from your local library.
  • Include creative activities such as writing, drawing, and craft projects. Provide them with plain paper, crayons, colored pencils, markers, scissors, glue, play dough, etc. Simple items can be the most fun for children. (Empty cardboard boxes, blanket forts, etc.) Can you do cooking or baking projects together?
  • Help your child stay connected with friends and family. Your child will be missing the usual social interaction with friends and family. Play dates are not recommended. However, can you set up a virtual play date where the children play together via SKYPE or Facetime? Perhaps parents can take turns being the guest reader for a group of friends using video conferencing. Can grandparents and other family members take turns at reading to your child as well?
  • Limit screen time—especially time watching or hearing the news. Even if they are not watching, they are hearing the reports. The continual influx of information can be stressful for adults. The same is true for children who don’t always have means of coping or sorting out all the information. Provide only age-appropriate information as needed in ways that you know will be best for your child.
  • Encourage acts of kindness: Can they create cards, notes, or pictures to send to nursing homes, family and friends, or neighbors to brighten their day?
  • Provide your child reassurance and encouragement. Pray with them for themselves, those they know and love, and others that the Lord will watch over them. Be sure to include prayers of thanks for the many blessings that they have each day. (Jesus their Friend and Savior, a home, family, food, a sunny day, rain, nurses and doctors, grocery store workers, etc.)
  • Take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, healthy food, time in the Word, and connections with others.

While this is a time of uncertainty and new routines, this can also be a time of great blessing. While an adjustment time will be likely, in our world of full schedules and activity, this can be a time to slow down and spend time with each other in our families. What an opportunity to spend time together talking, playing games, reading, cooking, etc. What an opportunity to remind ourselves and those we love, how dearly our Savior loves each of us and is with us each day, even when our day feels different.

Jesus, Shepherd of the sheep,
Who your Father’s flock does keep,
Safe we wake and safe we sleep,
Guarded still by you. Amen
Christian Worship 436:1

 

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