Teaching From Rest When You’re Stressed

A couple of days ago we received an email from my kids’ school with instructions for distance learning. Things just got real.

I actually had to walk away from the email because I was feeling overwhelmed with the reality that this is now going to be our new normal… at least for the time being. My anxiety levels were rising with the thought that in addition to just keeping tiny humans alive while we bunker down at home, I was now responsible for educating them. Educating them with the shortest crash course in teaching known to man.

But it’s not just me. There are moms and dads all over the world who have been thrown into this same predicament of distance learning. We are all in this together. Some of us are not only trying to educate our kids, but we are also working from home. We have our own learning curve now trying to navigate Zoom calls, Doodle polls, Calendly appointments, and Dropbox share folders. Even though I’ve been working remotely from home for the past five years, it’s still an adjustment trying to get things done while everyone is up in each other’s business ALL. THE. TIME.

And I think of others (like those on the front lines) who still have to go into work every day, who face the reality that this pandemic has forever changed humanity and must then come home and put their teacher hats on. I’m sure after an emotionally and physically exhausting day, the last thing they feel like doing is teaching word problems or conjugating verbs.

These are strange times we are living in. None of this seems real and yet here we are.

While reminding myself not to panic and just breathe, I remembered that I purchased a book not too long ago by Sarah Mackenzie called Teaching from Rest. I actually never finished it because, at the time, I didn’t think it applied to me. But now; now as we are just a day away from embarking on this new adventure of distance learning, I am finally ready to listen.

The introduction begins with this:

We worry that our students will be “behind”, that they won’t score well on the SAT, get into a good college, or read enough of the Great Books. Our souls are restless, anxiously wondering if something else out there might be just a little bit better—if maybe there is another way or another curriculum that might prove to be superior to what we are doing now. We choose anxiety as our guide instead of humbly submitting to God and letting Him guide us.

While I’m not yet worried about the SAT or college (my kids are only in kindergarten and 3rd grade), I’m worried that I’m not enough. Even though my undergraduate degree is in elementary education, I haven’t taught in years. I tried this homeschooling gig before and decided I wasn’t cut out for it (hence my kids going to school). Now it’s either sink or swim and I already feel like I’m drowning. So it was reassuring to read that even seasoned homeschoolers feel this way.

The book is a short read and is filled with lots of good insight about not being overwhelmed, but learning how to teach from rest. It has a lot of practical information about simplifying your schedule, not overloading your curriculum, and embracing who you are and the mother that God has created you to be.

So how does one teach from rest? Mackenzie goes on to say, “Surrender your idea of what the ideal homeschool day is supposed to look like and take on, with both hands, the day that it is. Rest begins with acceptance, with surrender. Can we accept what He is sending today?”

She continues:

We can’t really rest in God’s care until we trust that He will indeed care for us. And that means I can’t teach from rest unless I trust Him with my kids’ education too. I am not meant to take on this task of teaching and raising my children in my own strength, and neither are you; we are however meant to recognize every facet of our day as coming from the hand of God. It all passes through His fingers first, and He uses it to make sure that we lean hard on Him.

So as I open back up that email and begin organizing my kids’ distance learning assignments for next week, I’m going to surrender this entire twilight zone experience over to God and trust that He’s got this. I’ll be pressing hard into Him knowing that through God all things are possible…even educating my kids at home!!!

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