The Pandemic Comes to the Classroom
Throughout May, Mental Health Awareness Month, we are posting articles to help you and your congregation better understand mental illness and come alongside those who are struggling.
By Anna Miller, member of Immanuel Anglican Church, Destin, Florida
When the pandemic hit last year, it was a huge blow to all of us. We were forced to start doing things differently than we had ever done before. Parents and children started staying home more than ever. While at first this was new and exciting, it very quickly became dull and arduous. Parents took on the role of helping teachers while teachers trudged through trying to quickly learn how to effectively teach online.
As the pandemic seemed to decline and schools started opening up for the school year, we saw tremendous changes in students. God created us all differently, so some students had taken to online and home learning without any hitches while others were lost. Children returned to their classrooms with varying grasps of the information that they had been asked to learn while they were at home. They came back into the classroom with fears and anxieties that we as teachers have never seen before.
I have one child who came back to school absolutely scared of the computer because she had spent so much time on it as a kindergartener. Some students had significant learning deficits, depression and fear. One student was afraid to ask questions because she had gotten so used to not being able to ask them while she was at home. One of the oddest issues we have had to overcome in the classroom is the idea of not sharing. We are taught at a very young age to share, but right now the with the virus we are told we cannot. I have actually seen students hesitate to help other children because they are now being told not to share, help or get too close.
As both a teacher and a mother, my heart breaks for what our children are currently experiencing. Their little brains cannot quite comprehend what is going on. God has blessed us all with great abilities, but the ability to help children through a situation that none of us have experienced is quite a daunting task. I wish I had some amazing insight and advice for parents, but I believe prayer is the best answer to what we are experiencing right now.
A couple of months ago I watched as my husband thumbed through his prayer book looking for whatever it was he needed, and that sparked an idea. I knew that the prayer book had a prayer specifically about children. So, I printed off the prayer For Young Persons, laminated it and put it on my desk in my classroom. I now begin my day praying that prayer for my students and my own children. I would ask that you join me in this prayer for children across the world.
Here is the prayer:
- For Young Persons (bcponline.org, page 829) God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Anna Miller has a Bachelor of Arts in Child Development and is a first grade teacher at Rocky Bayou Christian School. Anna and husband, Rev. Caleb+ Miller, live in Destin, Florida where Caleb is the rector at Immanuel Anglican Church. They have two children, Camden (12) and Declan (6).