For more than 100 years, researchers have been trying to find an effective solution to a problem plaguing students and teachers alike: the summer slide. According to some reports, students can lose “two to three months of academic progress if they don’t stay engaged in their learning over summer vacation,” PBS points out. Oof.
As such, many teachers assign a light load of homework during summer vacation so that students retain skills and are better prepared when classes resume in the fall. This year, however, one first-grade teacher from Florida had a better idea: Instead of assigning her students packets of lessons to review, she gave her students a “summer packet” of alternative assignments that’s gone viral on Facebook.
In late May, Betsy Eggart took to Facebook to vent about the phenomenon of “summer packets.”
“A parent asked me the other day, ‘Are you sending home a packet of work for the summer?'” she wrote. “I paused and felt half-guilty as I replied, ‘No….'”
“This is so great, in theory,” Betsy continued. “And maybe one day I’ll put one together. Although, the more I thought, the more I decided that this summer packet should be less addition practice and sight words and more… LIFE.”
She added, “So take it or leave it… here’s my ‘Summer Packet.’”
1. Teach your children how to tie their shoes.
Betsy encouraged parents to get creative by giving their children an incentive for tying their shoes or having them watch a fun tutorial.
2. Establish a regular bedtime.
Betsy wrote that “if we keep our bodies in a routine with sleep, August won’t hit quite so hard.” That’s good advice for both parents and kids!
3. Find a pen pal.
“Writing with a purpose makes it relevant and real for your child,” Betsy said, whether to a close friend or distant family member.
4. Have dinner together.
Better yet, try to have dinner together every night. (It’s a lot harder than it sounds, but totally worth it.)
5. Practice being kind.
This is perhaps the easiest assignment on Betsy’s list — and the most important.
6. Let your child make mistakes.
“Hear me out,” Betsy wrote. “Our children need us. But they need us to let them learn to problem solve.”
7. Read to your child.
“I can’t encourage reading enough!” Betsy said. “Please visit the library and make books a part of your summer days. Most importantly, let your child see you read — to yourself and to them.”
8. PUT. DOWN. YOUR. PHONE.
“We could spend this summer scrolling through strangers’ vacation pictures wishing we had their reality,” Betsy wrote, “or we could be chasing our reality through the sprinkler in our own backyard.” It’s your call.
9. Take a moment to relax every once in a while.
“Be OK with not constantly going somewhere,” Betsy challenged families. She added, “Boredom gives way to creativity. Rest renews our bodies and our minds for all the next school year has in store.”
Betsy's "summer packet" was met with ALL the praise.
People on Facebook LOVED her approach to summer vacation and learning.
Unsurprisingly, her message has resonated with a lot of parents.
We have to agree with this commenter: Betsy’s students are so lucky to have her as their teacher.
Well played, Mrs. Eggart!
We could use more people like you in this world!