Teaching Our Children to Learn through Crisis

Elizabeth Smith

Daily headlines are filled with the language of war.  News photos show soldiers armed to the teeth, and the devastation of smoldering ruins of buildings, along with testimonies from the injured and fortunate who escaped.  In airports guardsmen in camouflage with machine guns casually slung over their shoulders monitor metal detectors.  The landscape and consciousness of America has changed.  There is much we can do to help our children feel safe and loved, even when the headlines are filled with alarming reports. 

As Christians we can show to our children an unwavering faith in a loving God. After September 11, I found myself searching the Psalms for perspective and comfort from the frightening devastation caused by the suicide-plane crashes at the Pentagon and World Trade Center.  The Psalms seemed to come alive.  Wherever I looked the words spoke to the moment.  Psalm 20: 7, an excellent verse for children to memorize in alarming times, provided perspective: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”  This verse presents a teaching moment in our  home schools that we can return to over and over.  

Living in Los Angeles in the early eighties brought frightening possibilities when AIDS cases first began to flood news reports.  Two  people in our neighborhood lost family members to this plague.  Our children were plainly frightened.  We turned to Psalm 91 and memorized it as a family. “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” Psalm 91:7  And verse 10 boldly declares, “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”  Not only is it a testimony to our children when we turn to the Bible, but God truly ministers to our hearts through his living word. 

When the Dessert Storm War hit in the late eighties, our children were clearly distracted and concerned for America.  I knew right away that it was not going to be  home school as usual. We let our children know that they could do something very important to help.  Pray! Tragedies often make us feel helpless and powerless, but prayer is the tool God has given us with the promise that he will hear from heaven and answer.  (II Chron. 7:15) 

This is a good time to focus on what  is happening and temporarily reorient the curriculum to respond to our children’s heightened interest in the War on Terrorism.  The opportunities abound. We can use the headlines as topics for study that include geography, other religions, the armed services, history, and Bible prophesy.  Children can write news accounts and present them verbally as they assume the roles of news correspondents.  Parents can tape these reports for a lasting memory.  

Our children will adopt the attitude we embrace regarding this trying time.  We can either enhance their fears, or encourage their faith.  It is the perfect time to pray for God’s wisdom for how to handle the opportunity He has give us and live out our faith at a time such as this. 

Elizabeth Smith is a veteran home-schooling mother of four children. She home schooled for fourteen years and all four children have graduated from college. She is the wife of Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal Defense Association.   Elizabeth has written for several home-school publications and appeared on the Focus On The Family radio program. She serves on the Board of Directors of The Family Foundation of Virginia and lobbies pro-family issues in her State Capitol and in the U.S. Congress for the National Center for Home Education. Elizabeth also speaks at Christian women’s retreats around the country.