Best Ways to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

This is Part 2 in my series with Dr. Phil Pearson on COVID-19. Dr. Pearson has practiced medicine for 39 years. He is an elder at Broadmoor Baptist, and he and his wife are well-respected members of our local community. For many years, Dr. Pearson also taught conceal-carry classes in our area.

As COVID-19 spreads across Mississippi, citizens can do their part to help those on the frontlines. When we take proper precautions, we help reduce the patient load for doctors and nurses.  

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How Serious is COVID-19?

This is Part 1 in my series with Dr. Phil Pearson on COVID-19. Dr. Pearson has practiced medicine for 39 years. He is an elder at Broadmoor Baptist, and he and his wife are well-respected members of our local community. For many years, Dr. Pearson also taught conceal-carry classes in our area.

When our church last met on March 15, Dr. Phil Pearson prepared our congregation for COVID-19. He brought handouts he had printed from the CDC so each family could have a copy.

We’ve known Dr. Pearson and his wife for almost 15 years. And we’ve never known him to get on someone’s bandwagon. Quite the opposite. So when he spoke that Sunday, we took his words seriously.

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10 Tips If You're Suddenly Schooling at Home

Like many of you who were thrust into educating your children at home in the last week or so, I became a homeschool mom overnight when we adopted three children ages 8, 6, and 5.

In my enthusiasm, I learned a few things the hard way. Here are my top 10 lessons:

  1. Don’t try to re-create the classroom. There are a gazillion reasons not to. Most importantly, this is not the time to burn yourself out. Isn’t the COVID-19 crisis enough to manage on its own?
  2. Don’t stress about standardized testing for your elementary and junior high students. Besides this being a year when things simply must be evaluated differently, your children can progress without textbooks and highly-structured instruction. How do I know this? Our second year homeschooling, we decided to build a house and do most of the work ourselves. Crazy, I know. We only did school for about 90 minutes each day—and an hour of that was independent reading. We also did timed math fact worksheets. That was about it. When they were tested at the end of the year, I was more than just a little nervous. But guess what? They did fantastic. In fact, my second oldest son did so well he could’ve skipped a grade.
  3. Read aloud nutrient-dense books to your children. The very best way to encourage a love for reading is to read great books to your children. Some of our favorite authors (in order from young audiences to older ones) Sandra Boynton, Laura Ingalls Wilder, E. B. White, and C. S. Lewis. Some nonfiction favorites were Charles Ludwig and Geoff and Janet Benge. Don’t expect your kids to sit still while you read. Sure, you probably need to put a lid on distracting behavior. For us read aloud time was a time when our children drew with colored pencils or markers or played with Legos
  4. Structured learning can stifle natural curiosity. We frequently took breaks from our curriculum to let each child pursue their own interests. This is the perfect place to start if you were just thrust into the world of home education. When your child has a natural curiosity about something, you won’t have to push.  
  5. Play is learning. Please don’t underestimate this one. If your child seems stressed by this crazy world we entered in 2020, consider imaginary play with stuffed animals or action figures. Through play, children will sometimes voice worries that they otherwise keep to themselves. If they do, you speak words of comfort and calmness through their favorite teddy bear or doll as well as help them come up with coping strategies.
  6. Do something fun everyday. Laughter really is the best medicine. How do you want your kids to look back on this crisis? This is the perfect time to demonstrate how to embrace peace in stressful times. Bake cookies. Play board games. Go on nature walks. Look through old family pictures.
  7. Keep a journal. Someday this will all be behind us. A journal will be a special keepsake in years to come (and another reason to have fun!). I purchased this journal for my grandson. Each morning I ask him to tell me about something we did the day before, and I write down what he says, correcting grammar as necessary. After he’s done dictating, I read it to him. Then he colors a picture in the blank space at the top. He loves for me to read him previous entries.
  8. Create a photo album to record this unique time. Shutterfly and Blurb are two of my favorite sites. Consider taking pictures of journal entries to include in your album. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to screenshot a few news headlines as well.
  9. Draw near to the Lord. And teach your children how. Read the Bible each day. Memorize a pertinent verse. Act out Bible stories. Pray! A bit of caution here: don’t overwhelm young children with all of the concerns you are taking to the Lord right now. Depending on their age, emotional maturity, and stress level, it might be best to just focus on one or two prayer requests.
  10. Focus on creating routines that will make life manageable for you. Divide up the chore list. Even a four-year old can push this mop around. If an orderly home is important to your sanity, establish regular times through the day to pick up. Generally, before lunch and before supper are good times to put things away. For young children, alternating activities every 30-45 minutes can keep them engaged and interested.

I pray all my readers enjoy the Lord’s peace and steadfast love during this time. If you have other suggestions or questions, please comment!

Also, I would love to hear what your favorite books are for children.

A Path to Peace

Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:4-7

For the last 35 years, I’ve read, studied, and clung to these words. Today they are as new and fresh to me as if I had never heard them.

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Wait!

My grandson’s face scrunched up as he twisted the plastic Easter egg. Pop! A huge smile spread across his face, and he held out his hand so I could see what was inside.

            “A donkey!” he said, bouncing across the couch.

            As I read Benjamin’s Box aloud, this energetic 4-year-old could hardly wait to see what surprise each new page (and egg!) held.

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Transformations

yellow and black butterfly

The summer before I started first grade is a black hole in the galaxy of my childhood memories. The previous spring, I had been a carefree kid chasing the ice cream truck down our street in the Mississippi Delta and dissecting frogs with the neighborhood gang. That fall I was a timid little girl in Miss Kerr’s first grade classroom 140 miles away on the black prairie. I only know that somewhere in there, my parents divorced.

My first-grade teacher, Miss Kerr, wore simple gingham dresses and no make-up. Her gray hair was cut short, and her shoes looked like something she could wear on a hike across many fields. The other first grade teacher at our small school always dressed stylishly with fine jewelry draped around her neck. I’m not sure how the powers-that-be decided to put me in Miss Kerr’s classroom. But the good Lord knew I needed a down-to-earth farmwoman that first year of elementary school.

Miss Kerr descended from a long line of no-nonsense folks, and she and her sister ran a farm out in the boonies of Clay County. During the first few weeks of school, Miss Kerr took her students to roam the gentle hills of their farm in search of milkweed plants and monarch caterpillars. We brought our finds back to the classroom in mason jars. Slowly the milkweed leaves disappeared, and shiny chrysalises formed on the remaining stalks. We waited for the butterflies to emerge.

Meanwhile, Miss Kerr was busy tending transformations of her own. After morning prayers and the pledge, we watched Spot run through our readers, then we worked addition problems on purple-inked pages fresh off the mimeograph. Day after day passed in this way. Prayers, pledge, Spot, math quizzes, … and chrysalis forever hanging by a tiny thread. The predictable routine somewhat eased my homesickness for carefree days and Dad.

Then one day while reading a story aloud, Miss Kerr asked if anyone understood what it meant to jump headfirst. I don’t remember raising my hand, but within minutes Miss Kerr had hoisted me to the top of the coat rack and beckoned me to demonstrate. I stood speechless. Her arms were open wide. She urged me to be brave, but I flattened myself to the wall as if I could glue myself there. Her coaxing reached deaf ears. All I could see was a little old lady with a crazy idea and a classroom of kids who were going to have to figure for themselves what headfirst meant.

A couple of weeks later, bright orange monarchs finally unraveled from their cocoons. We took our jars to the playground and lifted the lids. They barely seemed capable of flapping their wings at first, much less flying. Miss Kerr stood watching, a confident smile spread across her face. She knew they would find the strength. And she wanted us to witness the miracle.

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