When third grade teacher Gary Karlson heard about the Let Grow Project, he saw it as a way to make an important lesson meaningful at last. “For years we put ‘Responsibility’ as a character word in Month X, but it was the most meaningless thing. A waste of ink,” he said. So the Roanoke Avenue Elementary School teacher decided to give the project a try. Now, he’s proud to say his Long Island school is a Let Grow Project success story.
What is the Let Grow Project?
The ground-breaking Let Grow Project is so simple, yet so effective. Teachers assign a new kind of homework: Do something you’ve never done on your own before. Parents get involved too, helping kids come up with ideas and giving them permission to try. The accomplishment can be just about anything. Walk the dog. Make a meal. Do the laundry. Climb a tree. As long as it’s something they can do on their own, something new, it counts.
Kids report their progress back to their teachers, and parents share their experiences too. Over time, kids start to develop a sense of confidence and responsibility they’ve never had before. And parents learn that it’s okay to let go… and let grow. That’s what makes a Let Grow Project success story.
Every kid can have a success story.
Karlson asked his students to try doing something new each week throughout the school year. He was thrilled by how quickly kids (and parents) embraced it. Each week the kids came bounding up the stairs to tell him what new thing they’d tried: “I made the tortillas!” or “I learned to ride a bike!” He found the Let Grow Project allowed all kids, from superstars to strugglers, to succeed at something.
Karlson noted that he doesn’t always have a lot of contact with parents, especially the many new immigrants that make up his school’s population. But once the project started, all that changed. Parents started sending him a flurry of texts and photos because they were so excited by what their kids were doing: This is my son making dinner! Or: My daughter on her bike. Karlson feels this involvement is another part of the Let Grow Project success story. “I feel like they are engaging with the school in a whole new way.”
The Let Grow Project even changed how parents and teachers thought about their kids. “It allowed us to re-examine and modernize the way we relate with kids,” said Karlson. They began to see them not just as kids or students, but as people growing in so many different ways.
To share their achievements, Karlson had his students write their activities on little paper leaves, which he posted on a bulletin board in the hallway. It inspired other kids and teachers so much that now, all the third and fourth grade classes at Roanoke Avenue Elementary are participating in the project.
Create your own Let Grow Project success story.
Want to try the completely free Let Grow Project at your own school? We’re happy to help you with everything you need to get started. Click here to learn about all of our school programs and request materials for any you’d like to try. We look forward to hearing your success story someday!