Betsy Eggart, a first-grade (Year 2) teacher at R.C. Lipscomb Elementary School, in Florida, US, is setting her pupils a series of tasks you wouldn’t want to put off until the last few days before the kids head back to school.
Eggart said the more she thought about it the more she realised summer homework “should be less addition practice and sight words and more... LIFE”.
She shared the list on Facebook with a photo of her two children, Jackson, eight and one-year-old Emma, and she told HuffPost UK that the reaction from parents has been “very encouraging and positive”.
“I’ve had parents tell me they will write letters, keep reading, spend less time on their phone and tackle shoe tying,” she said. “Most exciting is how many teachers have responded to this post, downloaded the letter and sent with their students! I’m overjoyed to know so many little ones will have a summer full of the simple things and real FaceTime with their parents.”
Eggart’s list advises parents to foster kindness, by encouraging their kids to do something simple to bring a smile: “Deliver cookies, make a card, flowers, chores, a song...”
It also includes important life skills such as teaching kids to tie their shoe laces and letting them solve their own problems: “Don’t rush to the rescue,” Eggart writes. “Hear me out. Our children need us. But 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 colour shirt to wear) let them work it out!
“It saves time and our nerves to just do it! But in the long run, it’s crippling our children of the basic and necessary skill to problem solve and think through an issue... for themselves. Hang back... just a bit. They’ll be ok!”
Those worried about the dreaded “summer slide” will be pleased to learn the list covers off important areas such as reading and writing, but makes them relevant to kids’ lives, with tasks such as writing letters and visiting the library. And like all good holiday homework, some tasks prepare kids for the September term ahead, such as sticking to a bedtime routine so that school nights won’t “hit quite so hard”.
Prioritising family time is a key consideration with one assignment being to “sit at the table and eat together”, and there is one main task for parents: “Put down your phone”.
And the most important task of all: Rest.
“Be ok with not constantly going somewhere,” she wrote. “Society, media, Facebook all have us believing we must seize the day and do it all. Our children have worked hard and they need to rest. If we keep them in perpetual motion through the summer, it will feel like a continuation of the chaos with less homework. Squeeze in the fun, but allow the time to rest. Boredom gives way to creativity. Rest renews our bodies and our minds for all the next school year has in store. ”
Wise words indeed.
A couple of years ago, another teacher’s homework policy went viral after being shared on Reddit by someone who wished they had been set it when they were in school.
The letter to parents stated that the teacher would not be setting any formally assigned homework that year as they would prefer it if mums and dads prioritised eating dinner together as a family, reading together, playing outside and getting their child to bed early.
Read Betsy Eggart’s full list here.