NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, March 18th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we are really glad you are. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: family time during the coronavirus quarantine.
More than 30 states have extended spring break or cancelled school this week to figure out how to finish out the academic year in light of state and federal health guidelines. This means kids are home and looking for things to do.
EICHER: So we asked for suggestions on how to do more than just survive the next few weeks as a family, but to do in a way that’s meaningful.
Here’s WORLD correspondent Emily Whitten.
EMILY WHITTEN: Nearly 30 million kids in America will be staying home from school this week…and for weeks to come. Of course we love our kids—but let’s face it, for many parents, that’s a scary thought.
I’ve been a homeschool mom for the last nine years, and I can assure you, America, we will get through this. How, you ask? With earplugs and sedatives, of course. I’m just kidding. No sedatives. And actually, if you aren’t doing the good work of tending the sick, I hope this time at home can be an opportunity. To have fun. To serve one another. And to do and learn things you wouldn’t otherwise.
For instance, could you commit to read a short passage of the Bible each day with your kids? It’s admittedly hard to do with so many distractions of normal life. But even if you’re working from home, just 5 minutes a day doing that together could be really special. Maybe start by reading the Easter story in Luke or John. As you read, pause and ask your kids what they think. When you’re done, pray together.
Another simple thing. If your kids aren’t so old they roll their eyes when you suggest it, share some music together. Cheerful jazz or classical music can be a great way to set the mood for the day. A few of our family favorites over the years—Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan, Handel’s Messiah, Fiddler on the Roof, Sam Cooke, and Ella Fitzgerald.
When my kids were younger, we used music to learn Bible verses, hymns, and catechisms. Again, 5 or 10 minutes of memorization each day can have life-long results. And it doesn’t have to be terribly painful. I really enjoy Sara Groves’ folksy versions of hymns like Abide with Me. Or here’s a clip from the Slugs and Bugs version of Philippians 2:14-15 on Youtube:
LYRIC: “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky…”
You can further enrich your time at home, even while you do chores like cooking and cleaning, by listening to audiobooks or radio dramas. Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey combines high-quality storytelling with great Christian values, and you can buy a subscription to their archives for a pretty fair price. Our family recently listened to a free audiobook version at Tokybook.com of J. R. R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. Here’s a short sample:
LORD OF THE RINGS: I cannot read the fiery letters, said Frodo in a quavering voice. No, but I can.
If you’re new to radio drama and audiobooks, don’t feel like you have to sit with rapt attention for hours on end. If you don’t have any chores to do, offer kids a snack or paper to draw or color. Giving kids something to do with their hands can actually help them listen more closely.
One common challenge at home is not getting enough exercise. For that, I recommend getting outside when you can. Nature walks can be fun, especially as spring flowers begin to bud and bloom. Maybe start a nature diary and record the new flowers and bugs you see each day. Another idea, you can go to nestwatch.org and learn how to build a birdhouse. Or Google how to build an obstacle course or parkour course in your yard.
We once made a Star Wars themed course and shot Nerf guns at each other, which was tons of fun. On days when you can’t get outside, something like the Keep Trainer app can help you plan a daily workout at home.
When you use your TV or tablet, keep an eye out for more “nutritional” options. For younger kids, try Magic School Bus or the old Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Older kids might like Castles in the Sky, Hidden Figures and Ken Burns’ Documentaries. I especially love to find shows that spark excitement and adventure in the real world. For instance, after my oldest daughter watched The Great British Baking Show—The Beginnings, she got really jazzed about learning to bake. Here’s how she describes that:
REBECCA: Actually, that’s what got me into baking. One day I just went into the kitchen. I said, I’m gonna make some bread. Because I’ve never baked bread before. So, I got a recipe and I made some bread and it was great. And then I made a cake, and then I made French desserts, and cupcakes and cakes and tarts and eclairs. It was a great introduction to the world of baking. It showed me how much I could do.
In like manner, WORLD book reviewer Mary Jackson recently told me about her son’s love for the new Lego TV show: Lego Masters. Not only does he watch it, but he hosts building competitions with his friends modeled after the show. They pick a theme, set a time limit, and then create their own Lego build. When they’re done, a parent picks a winner. If you can’t get together physically, kids could compete with other homebound friends using apps like Google Hangouts, FaceTime, or even through email.
One final benefit of homeschooling I’ll mention—the ability to serve. Is anyone sick in your neighborhood? Might an older couple need someone to buy groceries or cut their grass for them? Look for ways your kids could help. Kids might not be able to visit with elderly family members for a while. Could you give them a phone call instead? Or spend a few hours making them a photo book of happy times you spent together?
With 30 million kids at home, we face uncharted territory as a nation. But what Satan means for evil, God means for good. And if we commit ourselves to Him and His purposes, I hope families will find manifold blessings. No earplugs or sedatives needed.
ELLA FITZGERALD: BLUE SKIES
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Emily Whitten.