Big Kids

This teacher's summer homework list is a must-read for every parent

With the school holidays fast approaching it can sometimes seem like a daunting time when you have school-aged kids.

How do you keep them occupied? Should you send them to summer camp? How much screen time is too much?

Luckily, primary school teacher Betsy Eggart has put together a homework pack for parents. Relax, it’s not dreaded long division.

It’s a list of suggested tasks that parents can undertake with their children, and it’s as refreshing as it is sensible.

The idea was born when a parent asked her if she was going to be sending work home for the summer.

“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…’

“You see, there are these packets you can create to send home so that parents can work with their child reviewing skills learned and preparing for what is up ahead.

“This is so great, in theory. 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.”

Her “summer packet” of homework includes teaching children how to tie their laces, having family dinners, keeping a bed time routine and writing letters.

“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. 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.”

She also tell parents to encourage kindness, doing nice things for others “simply for a smile.” Reading to children makes the list too, as leading by example will instil in them a love of books.

“Most importantly, let your child see you read- to yourself and to them. Let them hear your silly voices. Let them tell you the best parts and predict how it will end. We tell them all the time they must read, but are we showing them WE read?”

Moreover, she says that we should rush to constantly help our children, no matter what our instincts might be.

“Don’t rush to the rescue. 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!”

But perhaps her last bullet point is the one we can ascribe to the most- rest.

“Be ok with not constantly going somewhere. 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.”

The mum-of-two told Scary Mommy that the list came from observing her students and her own children.

“Parents are always searching for the next best thing,” she said. “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?”

However, Children aren’t as worried about squeezing so much into their summers.

“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 continues.

Maybe we do need to back to school for the simple stuff after all….

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