Teacher's 'Summer Packet' Letter Goes Viral, Reminding Parents What's Really Important


Brace yourselves: Summer is coming — and for many, it’s already here. For a certain age group, that means freedom and lazy days and friends, and for another it means everything they already did and a lot more work.

One of the things that both kids and parents dread, though, is homework packets. Kids don’t want to do them, and parents don’t usually want to sit around and make sure they get done.

But if they don’t get done, it’s more likely that the kids will forget what they’ve learned after several months off. So what’s a teacher, parent, or student supposed to do?

One teacher has been applauded for her solution. It’s not exactly less time-consuming — in fact, it’s probably even more involved than completed a math packet or writing a synopsis.

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Betsy Eggart is a teacher who did not put together the expected academic packet of summer exercises. She even said she almost felt bad when a parent asked if she’d made one and she replied in the negative.

But Eggart has a unique perspective that some parents don’t: She sees her students day in and day out and actively engages with them to better their understanding of the world.

Sometimes parents only get a few rushed moments here and there before students are consumed by their after-school activities and parents try to get some time to themselves.

That means that kids can grow up without really getting to know their parents, even though they live in the same house.

Eggart is urging parents to take a more hands-on approach this summer, and her list has something for everyone.

“Teach your child to tie their shoes,” she wrote. “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.”

Sounds like she’s been asked one too many times to complete a task that someone needs to sit down and work on with their child. Teachers are already stretched so thin they don’t have time to also give kids basic life skills.

Eggart even found a clever way to involve writing and critical thinking in a real-world scenario that’s more interesting than parroting back a book report or matching questions and answers.

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“Choose a few family members and friends to write a letter to this summer. Ask your child to write in full sentences, ask questions and give details. Writing with a purpose makes it relevant and real for your child. Maybe someone will write them back! Include an envelope with return address and stamp to encourage that!”

“Sit at the table and eat together,” she continued. “Really watch your child. Is he sitting on his knees, mouth wide open, food everywhere? This is how he looks in the cafeteria. Work on that.”

Probably another repeat offense Eggart has been forced to witness on the daily. And, again, another basic life skill that teachers are not and cannot be responsible for.

“Encourage kindness. Find someone or several others that your child can do something simple to bring a smile. Deliver cookies, make a card, flowers, chores, a song…something simply for a smile.”

A child can be bright, make the best grades, and complete extracurricular activities with panache, but if they don’t have kindness they aren’t really balanced.

One especially poignant suggestion Eggart makes is for parents to spend real face-to-face time with their kids, without being distracted. It’s possible to be physically present and yet make your child feel desperately alone.

“Put down your phone. On Mother’s Day, I create a booklet with my students. They answer questions all about their Moms, write sentences and draw pictures. One page is “Mom’s Favorite Things.” Can I tell you the top item colored first on most booklets? iPhone.”

“We must look up from our screens and look at our children. They are growing so incredibly fast. We could spend this summer scrolling through strangers’ vacation pictures wishing we had their reality or we could be chasing our reality through the sprinkler in our own backyard.”

Among her other suggestions were to rest and be okay with doing nothing sometimes and to spend time reading to your children. Kids are savvy: They know that if you’re asking them to read but you’re not reading, then it must not actually be that important to you. You have to model the behavior you want them to pick up, so head to the library as a family, read as a family, and discuss as a family!

All of her points will bring families together and improve everyone’s lives. So maybe this summer, set down that phone and spend some time developing your relationships and find something to do that will benefit both you and your kids!

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