Teacher's 'Summer Packet' Offers Parents An Education In Living Life To The Fullest

"Boredom gives way to creativity."

Now that summer vacation has arrived for school kids across the country, many parents are scrambling to establish an itinerary of sorts to keep the entire family busy for the next two months. But, when asked if she'd be providing students with a "summer packet" this year, teacher Betsy Eggart offered an alternative to the math packets and reading lists of yesteryear, trading academic lessons for life lessons that'll benefit parents and children alike.

While summer packets typically aim to reinforce material taught throughout the school year, Eggart's now-viral Facebook post encourages parents to lead by example as they work to teach their children how to responsible, respectful citizens.

"Parents are a child's first teacher. From infancy, they watch every little thing and truly do want to be just like Mommy and Daddy. That's why it's so important that we model for our children what we hope to see them doing themselves one day," Eggarts tells A Plus. "If your child watches you stop to help someone with groceries, take time to read a book and use kind words with others, your child is more likely to demonstrate the same behavior as a result."

Drawing from her experience as both a teacher and a mother of two, Eggart's "packet" focuses on fundamental life lessons, including kindness, which can often become lost in the daily shuffle we've created for ourselves.

"I believe that kindness makes every situation in life more bearable. Think about long lines, hospital stays, fender benders, job interviews and being the new person at church. These are all times that kindness makes a world of difference," Eggart explains. "Again, when children grow up watching those most influential in their lives- their parents- being kind, they are much more likely to extend kindness towards others. This also affects the classroom. Just look at the news and it is more than apparent that our children desperately need to learn to consider others and show kindness." 

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The Pensacola first grade teacher also notes that today's children are accustomed to instant gratification, which often gives rise to the inability to solve problems in life and in the classroom.

"Don't want to watch the commercials? We'll fast forward them! Don't like dinner? Let's microwave something else! Don't like that toy? Here's 3 others! Bored waiting at the doctor? Here's YouTube! Can't tie your shoes? Come here! I'll do it so we can get out of here!" Eggart emphasizes.  

Because our lives are so rushed and hurried, and there are so many things filling up our days, it seems there's no time to let children sit, figure things out, shed a few tears, and then work through the task at hand, Eggart says. Instead, she suggests parents don't rush to the rescue immediately, as doing so can be very harmful because the children are losing out on any opportunity to feel struggle and develop the skills needed to overcome such obstacles, no matter how small.  

"Home is where we are most comfortable," Eggart adds. "If children aren't given the chance to struggle through a situation at home, they certainly will not at school. In the classroom, I see many children break down and cry before tackling a challenging assignment. They lack the courage and confidence to take on something that isn't instantly easy."

Yet, while Eggart's "packet" contains an abundance of advice that promises to teach parents how to live in the moment, beyond all else, her "assignments" encourage families to embrace boredom.

"Moms today feel this need to be our child's constant entertainer," she explains. "Every day must be organized and filled with Pinterest perfect plans. Can I tell you what I did when I was little? I spent a ton of time outside and in my bedroom with my toys. I don't understand why moms today — me included — feel this level of guilt when we send our kids to play for a little while without our constant attention."

Eggart emphasizes that parents should put down their phones when spending so-called "quality" time with their children. "We must look up from our screens and look at our children," she wrote on Facebook. "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." 

But parents should also pause and allow their children to figure out how to have fun on their own, as people are seemingly allergic to boredom these days.

"Let your children entertain themselves," she advises. "If they are bored, let them figure it out! Children today lack creativity and imagination because, like problem solving, they are given little opportunity to develop any. The academic area my students struggle most with? Creative writing. These are first graders -- 6 and 7 years old -- and when I ask them to tell me a make believe story, they look at me in complete bewilderment. We must make the most of our together time and allow our children to make the most of their free time, no plans needed!"

After all, as Eggart wrote, boredom gives way to creativity, and rest renews our bodies and our minds for all the next school year has in store. 

Find Eggart's complete summer packet here .

Cover image via Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock

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