3 Ways You Can Support Families in a Distance Learning World
Living through a pandemic has changed the way we do a lot of things. Among other things, it has changed the way we shop, changed how we vacation, how we work, and has changed the way we do school. The change in how we did school was probably one of the biggest, most life-altering ways this pandemic has impacted us. Whether students are fully back in person or not, the way they are doing school is completely different from pre-pandemic schooling. And it has taken a toll on them and their families.
Before the pandemic students were in school fully navigating the daily stresses of teenage life. Then, just like that, it was taken away. Instead of wondering what clothes they are going to wear the next day, how they are going to navigate dating relationships or friendships, and what sporting event they would attend, they are now wondering if they will do their class on their bed, on the couch, or somewhere else in the house. Every county and state are different, but one thing is for sure, families are under a different kind of stress and struggle these days. So much has changed for students.
This goes beyond just children and teens. Whole families are struggling as parents are having a hard time as well. They are juggling work and helping their children with some form of distance learning. So, how can you support families in a distance learning world? What can you, as a student minister, do to help and support. Here are 3 things you can do.
1. Take students out for fun.
If students are distance learning, they are often isolated from a lot of their friends. And they are looking at their computer screens and phones most of the day. They aren’t able to socialize with others much in person. That is why, if you are able to connect and take students out individually or in a smaller group for some fun, would help students connect with others and help their mental health. When you are out with them try to avoid anything tech or digital and focus on having in person community. The more you can experience that community without technology the better.
2. Provide resources.
Living in a pandemic is new for everyone. No one has lived through something like this in over 100 years. That means people are looking for ideas and suggestions on how to navigate life during this time. As a Student, Children or Family minister, gather resources to help encourage families. You can choose to create your own resources or find already created ones from different, well-respected organizations. Have handouts available at Church or upload them to your ministry website so people can access them there.
3. Keep in regular contact with parents.
Just as important it is to stay in touch and connect with students during this time, staying in touch and connecting with parents is really important. They are stressed. That is why it would be good to connect with them on a regular basis. Send them a personal email, give them a phone call just to see how they are doing, and ask how can you pray for them. Another idea would be to start a monthly Zoom Parents Meet Up. There you can check in with parents, encourage them, and keep them updated on what’s happening with the Student Ministry.
The pandemic has impacted our lives in a variety of ways. How long will it be around in some form or another? We do not know. What we do know is that families are struggling. Students are struggling. Parents are struggling. As a student minister, you have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference. A difference that will last a lifetime. These are just three ideas, but the more you can connect in person, in safe environments, and the more you can encourage them with resources and regular communication, the more likely you will be at helping them not just survive this time but thrive in it.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.