Taking time to teach our kids the often overlooked ‘basics’ can mean everything
Any parent of school-aged kids has heard of (or experienced in all its glory) the “summer slide,” which basically means they leave school on their last day and immediately forget every single thing they learned during the year. And while many teachers and parents believe their kids should be continuing their education during the summer months by reading books and completing math packets, one teacher had some very different and very refreshing advice.
Lipscomb Elementary School first-grade teacher Betsy Eggart created a Facebook post urging parents to take time for the simple things this summer — helping their kids learn to tie shoes, making sure they get some rest, having them write a letter to a loved one, and having dinner together as a family.
“A parent asked me the other day, ‘Are you sending home a packet of work for the summer?’ I paused and felt half-guilty as I replied, ‘No…’” she writes.
Eggart says summer packets are great and probably help kids stay on track with their studies, but she she’d rather they concentrate on life and building problem-solving skills. “So take it or leave it…here’s my ‘Summer Packet,'” the Pensacola mom and teacher writes.
“Teach your child to tie their shoes. Find a fun trick! Watch a video! Give an incentive! Be persistent! Just make sure your child isn’t the one dragging their laces through the bathroom and cafeteria then asking the teacher to tie it,” she said. Guilty as charged.
She asks parents to “encourage kindness,” in their kids and to have them do things “simply for a smile.” She also stresses the importance of reading to them and to make sure they see us enjoying books as much as we want them too. It’s understandably hard when you’re dealing with a house full of kids over the summer and trying to keep everyone busy and not killing each other, but setting an example can be a critical component when it comes their future love of books.
The mom of two tells Scary Mommy what she’s observed as a teacher and a mom. “Parents are always searching for the next best thing,” she says. “How are we going to have the best vacation? How can I have the best summer? Where can I find 25 ideas for a rainy day?” But she says the answer is so simple and one all of us would enjoy more. “Our children desire quality time with US. That time could be spent checking off fun items on a summer bucket list or sitting on the living room floor building legos together,” she says.
Eggart also believes (and parents everywhere should listen to this one) it’s ok to have down time. We’re often so quick to fill every minute of our kids day so they (and more importantly, we) don’t lose our collective marbles that we don’t take time to just chill. “Squeeze in the fun, but allow the time to rest,” she suggests. “Boredom gives way to creativity. Rest renews our bodies and our minds for all the next school year has in store.”
Most importantly, “Don’t rush to the rescue,” she offers. This is advice I believe so many of us need to remember. “They need us to let them learn to problem solve. If your child is in a situation that is frustrating, but not harmful (example: can’t put together a new toy, can’t open a Lunchable, can’t decide which color shirt to wear) let them work it out,” Eggart says. Even though it’s easier and less time consuming for us to do it for them, it teaches them nothing about resourcefulness and problem solving. “They’ll be ok!” she writes.
If you want to download Eggart’s full summer packet, you can do so here.