Quaranteens: Three Ideas to Help Students Grow in the Pandemic

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By: Tim Elmore

It’s been over a year since students all over the world were sent home from school and instantly had to learn how to learn from home. Teachers tried to maintain academic standards as students transformed their bedrooms, dens, and kitchens into classrooms to try to meet those standards. 

Some call these middle school and high school students quaranteens

They’re now voicing what it’s been like to spend 12 months in a lockdown, knowing rites of passages for past high schoolers will not happen for them. The senior trip, the prom, the graduation ceremony–all of these are morphing (at least slightly) and teens are feeling the angst of it all. In an interview, some said to me:

“My anxiety has gone up a thousand percent.”

“I pretty much feel lonely all the time.” 

 “I love spending time on screens, but I hate them now because that’s all I do.”

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute said, “The cost will be borne by families because increased online use is associated with anxiety, depression, obesity and aggression — and ‘addiction to the medium itself.’” Did you know that screen time has doubled year over year during the pandemic?

What the Teenage Brain Needs

I do not claim to be a neuroscientist, but as I study brain development in teens, it is clear that adolescence is a time of measurable change in hormones and other chemicals that change how a person reacts to life. Their brains are pruning themselves, moving from childhood thoughts and feelings to adult thoughts and feelings. It’s an in-between stage where a parent, teacher, or coach observes shifting emotions on any given day.

My point is simple: The essentials COVID-19 has stolen from teens are the very elements they need to develop and thrive. Three realities are clear:

  1. Their brains need socialization.
  2. Their brains need structure.
  3. Their brains need sleep.

Teens Need Socialization

One of the primary ways teens mature is through social contact. They are testing boundaries. They’re assessing patterns of thought. They are comparing themselves to others and forming a sense of identity. This happens when they spend time with both adults and peers. The pandemic has forced them to separate, so adults need to help them find ways to get connected and socialize as part of their development. Students see it as fun, but we know it’s actually how they’ll grow during their adolescent years. 

Consider how kids develop their values during their childhoods.

  • Ages 1-7: Imprint by observation. (They observe adults and emulate what they see.)
  • Ages 8-13: Modeling by heroes. (They now choose their heroes and imitate them.)
  • Ages 14-20: Socialization by peers. (They compare and contrast via relationships.)

What if we got just as intentional about encouraging teens to find places they can connect with each other for non-academic purposes as we are about academics? Driveway small groups, community service projects, or even the Clubhouse app are great starting points for students to socialize and grow together. 

Teens Need Structure 

The pandemic hasn’t removed structure completely, but it has reduced it significantly. For months, the typical routines of classes, athletic practices, band rehearsals, and school plays have dropped and in some places disappeared for months. Most teens need this structure in their daily schedules. It prepares them for adulthood and enables them to build disciplines and habits in their lives. Consider the benefits of structure:

  1. It fosters a sense of security as norms are established. 
  2. It provides clarity and combats ambiguity.
  3. It can build good habits through a maintained routine schedule.  

Stick to a schedule that works. Set a time to wake up, exercise, shower, get dressed, have breakfast, or whatever your student needs to start the school day. If it helps, allow your teen to sleep in a little later than normal. Just like in most classes, phones should be off while doing schoolwork. Keep the TV off during school hours, too, and limit the time they watch the news. Plan mini breaks and a one-hour lunch break.

Teens Need Sleep

Most of us recognize how important sleep is to an adolescent, even more so than an adult. The average amount of sleep that U.S. teenagers get is about seven hours, perhaps a few minutes more depending on where they live. However, studies show they need between nine and nine and a half hours. Teenagers do not get enough sleep for a number of reasons including a shift in their sleep schedules and the number of hours they spend on a screen, especially right before bedtime. 

In my interview with high school students, the majority of them acknowledged their sleep patterns have been “wrecked” by the pandemic. Some are on their portable devices even more these days and unless they are intentional about their time, phone addictions can develop. Below are some ideas to foster good sleep habits in students:

  1. Ban portable devices in the bedroom, and charge them somewhere else.
  2. Limit caffeine intake. Instead, drink more water. 
  3. Encourage exercise every day–walks, shooting hoops, running, etc.
  4. Start a habit of reading 30 minutes before falling asleep.

Socialization. Structure. Sleep. They’re basic needs that teens have, especially in a pandemic. It’s up to you and your teens to figure out what’s missing and apply it.

One of our applicable Habitudes is called “Surgeries and X-Rays.” Before a doctor performs an operation to repair a patient’s bone, that surgeon will always take an X-ray to see the fracture and determine what repair is necessary. It would be ridiculous to simply cut into the patient and begin wandering around with a knife, looking for a possible problem in the dark. So it is with students. I suggest you take time to reflect together on what they’re missing. Assess where they stand. Do a conversational “x-ray.” Then they can do the necessary surgery by removing unhealthy habits and inserting healthy ones in their place. 

Chick-Fil-A Night TONIGHT

THE FOOD TRUCK IS COMING!!!

We know you love it. We know you are looking for a reason… THIS IS THE REASON!!!

The Chick-fil-A Food Trailer is headed to Oakwood Church, Wednesday, April 21! Pre-order at the link below and join us at the Oakwood parking lot anytime between 6-8 pm. Drive-thru and grab dinner for your family and proceeds from your purchase will go to Oakwood Youth Ministry!

Sign Up Online and make a difference for Oakwood Students going to Camp and Mission Trip THIS SUMMER.

Helping Create Connection In Your Home

In a world where so much common ground is found, we also realize there are unique differences when in comes to each of our own kids!

This simple conversation kit is designed to give you a connecting point with your child.

The title might be called “CONVERSATION KIT,” but you may actually find that your main goal is to become an active listener.

“Listening is a very active awareness of the coming together of at least two lives. Listening, as far as I am concerned, is certainly a prerequisite of love. One of the most essential ways of saying “I love you” is being a good listener.”
– FRED ROGERS

Worship Night Tonight

Worship Night Tonight 6-7:30 @ Student Pavilion

We are ending our I AM A WORSHIPER CHALLENGE with a night to focus on Jesus and all that He has done for us.

JESUS SAYS:

‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” ‘ John 4:23-24

Middle School Mission Trip

Middle School Mission Trip June 20-26

Why here?

Keep Austin Weird. The City of Austin’s motto is lived out through its artistic culture and love of food trucks. But with any rapidly growing big city, there are also underserved neighborhoods. Through our local partnerships, students will learn how the church is responding to these needs in very real ways. Your team will serve in a variety of local ministries, ranging from a food pantry to a rescue mission. Students will also get the opportunity to explore Austin during our Mission Race and they’ll hike local outdoor adventure spots.

Why so close to home?

We understand that the location is not too far away. Given the current circumstances and the freedom to plan a trip, Austin seems to be a great match. Our heart at the Oakwood Student Ministry is to discover new ministry opportunities that might arise from this trip.

Ministry Outreach

Through our various partnerships, students will gain insight into what ministry in an urban environment really looks like. Opportunities include: soup kitchen, working at a neighborhood outreach center, and more.

Adventure Opportunities

Students will have the opportunity to explore downtown Austin during the Mission Race, explore local parks and conservatories, and go hiking.

Logistics

Weather: Summers are hot and temperatures frequently average 90°F.

Transportation: Rental Vans

First Aid: Most LeaderTreks staff are First Aid and CPR certified. Please bring your own team first aid kit.

Typical Schedule

Day 1: (Sunday) Arrive at site by 4pm- Settle in

Day 2: (Monday) Serve with local community ministry

Day 3: (Tuesday) Serve with local community ministry

Day 4: (Wednesday) Mission Race 

Day 5: (Thursday) Serve with local community ministry

Day 6: (Friday) Outdoor Adventure Day

Day 7: (Saturday) Departure (by 8am)

Jesus Does the Impossible

Our OSM GAME NIGHT before Spring Break involved a simple game called IMPOSSIBLE SHOT. We went “big time” with the huge logo print out and a board backing to set up the target. The prize?

One full year of all OSM EVENTS paid!

Check out the Video Below

OSM Night Impossible Shot

The simple game involves a nerf bow and arrow, a long distance, and the perfect shot… that’s why it’s called IMPOSSIBLE SHOT!

We tied in IMPOSSIBLE SHOT with MISSING THE MARK referenced in Romans 3:23.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 

and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:22-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We can literally insert the greek word hamartía into the text to pull out the word picture presented and end up with:

“for all have [missed the mark] and fall short of the glory of God,

Reality is, we have all missed it. The accuracy required to perfectly hit the target of the Godliness expected from the Father is unobtainable or IMPOSSIBLE.

Take the Rich Young Ruler that encountered Jesus and seemed to have a successful life with wealth to back up his claims. He seemed to hit the target with resources and following the guidelines setup by the Ten Commandments. You could say he was a “good guy.” However, Jesus challenges him to give up all his wealth. It seems that the ask to follow Jesus went deeper than outer appearance. Jesus was going for the Rich Young Ruler’s heart.

Even the disciples questioned Jesus about eternal things. It seems that they could not wrap their minds around what Jesus was aiming at. What they saw with their eyes and heard with their ears seemed to make salvation itself… IMPOSSIBE.

Jesus comes back with a key statement that we can all take to heart:

“What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Reality is, it is IMPOSSIBLE for humankind to reconcile with a Holy God.

That is why we need Jesus to take the bow and arrow, line up the shot for us, and nail it right in the target. PERFECT SHOT!

As fully God and fully man, Jesus aimed at the target of the cross. He lived as a perfect example and died in our place on the cross to pay for the overwhelming debt of sin that makes eternal salvation impossible. What seems to be impossible for mankind to pay, Jesus took care of by not only dying, but raising again to give us hope for eternity.

Will You Allow Jesus To Do The IMPOSSIBLE for YOU?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

WHO WAS ST. PATRICK

The man we know as St. Patrick was born around 389 AD in England. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. 

The Roman Empire was still in titular control of Britain, but their demoralized armies were unable to protect the island from Irish invaders. Farms were pillaged and teenagers enslaved. Patrick was taken at age sixteen. An Irish farmer bought him as a slave and put him to work tending sheep. 

Somehow Patrick came to personal faith in Christ in the midst of his tribulations. He later wrote, “The Lord opened to me a sense of my unbelief, that I might be converted with all my heart unto the Lord.” 

Patrick received a vision from God when he was twenty-two, a clear signal to run from Ireland for his home. Risking his life, he was able to evade his captors and return to his family. But his heart was heavy for the spiritual condition of his Irish captors. 

Following another vision, Patrick devoted himself for seven years to Bible study, then he returned to Ireland as a missionary. The Irish were almost completely without Christ, worshiping the elements and spirits in trees and stones and engaging in magic and even human sacrifice. 

Patrick got to work. 

When his career was done, he had established some two hundred churches in Ireland and led more than one hundred thousand people to faith in Christ, despite more than a dozen attempts on his life. He is today the patron saint of Ireland. His death on March 17, 461 is remembered each year as St. Patrick’s Day. 

However, there’s even more to his story. 

In the following century, Irish Christians who were spiritual descendants of St. Patrick’s ministry sailed back to Britain, where they evangelized the heathen who had overrun the country. They established monasteries and copied books being destroyed elsewhere. 

According to Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization, these men “single-handedly refounded European civilization throughout the continent.” 

You could make the argument that St. Patrick deserves to be on anyone’s top-ten list of all-time most influential Christians. But you’d have a hard time getting Patrick to agree. 

In his Confessions, Patrick wrote, “I am greatly a debtor to God, who has bestowed his grace so largely upon me, that multitudes were born again to God through me. The Irish, who had never had the knowledge of God and worshiped only idols and unclean things, have lately become the people of the Lord, and are called sons of God.” 

He closed his memoirs by explaining the secret to his history-changing ministry:

“Do you judge, and let it be most firmly believed, that it was the gift of God. And this is my Confession, before I shall die.” 

Read Full Article by Dr. Jim Denison Here