This article is sponsored by Christ the Savior Academy.
When my children were toddlers, I used to prepare them for long plane rides by saying, “What is today about?”
“Waiting!” they would chime in unison.
No matter how many delays, cancelled flights or hours spent in the lost baggage line, we were always right on schedule in their minds: We were waiting – patiently – and that was part of the journey.
Recently, as I lamented about how our lives have been changed by the COVID-19 virus, my oldest son let out a chuckle.
“Mom, you’re probably going to start asking us every day now what the next two months are about.”
“What’s that, Preston?”
“You know: Waiting!” he laughed.
Sigh. He’s right. We are all waiting.
We can choose to do be exasperated by it all, or we can wait patiently and know that this is part of the journey. But, as we wait, my family is finding great joy in going back to the basics, and I am relieved that my 9-year-old son’s school, Christ the Savior Academy – a classical, Christian school in Wichita – is leading that charge for our family. CSA has positively reinforced all four of the strategies I’m about to share with you.
Four Ways to Get Back to the Basics:
1. Writing Letters
Let’s face it, we live in a technological age and sending a text or email is always more expedient than writing a letter. However, when you are waiting, there is nothing sweeter (or more pleasantly surprising) than getting a letter in the mail, especially if you are a child. Letter writing is also a perfect opportunity to work on grammar, spelling and addressing a letter. At Christ the Savior Academy, “Post Office” is a weekly club where students write letters, collect them, sort them and deliver them to the right “address” at the school. In today’s atmosphere of isolation, letter writing is more important than ever, only now we utilize the real Post Office to deliver the mail.
“Dear Zach, I miss you. I wish we could have a play date. Love, Nathan.” My son couldn’t wait to send his reply.
2. Writing Poems
Listening to my son’s Zoom classes has become a highlight for me – particularly when the students are reading their poems they have written that week. Think Dead Poet’s Society… only much younger.
“That’s the best poem I think I have ever heard,” raved one of my son’s 9-year-old classmates after hearing a homemade poem.
Why teach children poetry at such a young age? Christ the Savior Academy teacher Luke Gilstrap responds by quoting poet Louis Gluck: “We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.” Teaching poetry, Gilstrap says, “gives children better words and better orders for sights, sounds and tastes – things we adults barely remember or struggle to see again.”
In this time of waiting, one of the best skills we can teach our children is to notice things and write them down. That’s not something we will do when our normal, harried lives resume.
I confess to being a sleep fanatic, rigidly insisting on firm bedtimes, but even I have relaxed the bedtime standard lately. Now is the perfect time to sit together and gaze at the stars, looking for the constellations my son is studying in his Zoom Astronomy class. Here’s an article to get your family started with Stargazing.
4. Knockout Spelling
Why shouldn’t learning new spelling words be fun? Or math facts, for that matter? One of the tenets of classical education involves teaching children through rote memorization so that spelling words and math facts can be recalled with ease. This doesn’t have to be a boring process. One of our favorite things to play is knockout spelling. Zach spells the first word on his list and then shoots the basketball. If he misses the basket, I have a chance to “knock him out” by making the basket and spelling the word right myself. Fun and effective. Win. Win.
Yes, waiting is hard (and not just for toddlers!). I literally cannot wait for my children to talk face-to-face with their friends, go to Church, play on a playground and gather in class at Christ the Savior Academy. But there is one thing I never want to change: My children have begun to wonder again about the world around them and are embracing a back-to-the-basics approach without even realizing what great things they are accomplishing by doing so.
Jennifer Sebits is the development director for Christ the Savior Academy. A former news reporter and anchor for KSN-TV, Jennifer received her Master’s Degree at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. She has served as a political correspondent in Washington, D.C. for local television affiliates across the country. Now she is focusing her attention on raising her three children with her husband and is thrilled to be doing so in Wichita, KS.