Out of a Catastrophic Virus Came a Whole Lot of Competent Kids — with Let Grow Cheering Them On

Happy Birthday to The Let Grow Independence Kit!

A year ago, as you have doubtless been reminded this week, the virus arrived. The schools shut down. The country tried not to freak.

And that very weekend Let Grow published The Let Grow Independence Kit, a free, downloadable kit filled with things kids could start doing on their own, during Covid.

“Talk about making lemonade!” says Lenore Skenazy, Let Grow’s President. “In fact, that was actually one of our suggestions for the kids: Make lemonade.”

What are you ready to do that you’re not doing yet?

The Let Grow Independence Kit is a remote-learning version of our popular Let Grow Project (also free!), whereby students get the homework assignment to go home and do something new, on your own, without your parents.

Like The Project, the Independence Kit asks kids to think of all sorts of things they feel ready to do but, for one reason or another, haven’t tried yet:

  • Build a fort
  • Walk the dog
  • Run an errand
  • Go someplace using public transportation…

A big list of ideas is included, but since kids aged 3 to 13 can do The Project, it is really up to the children and their parents to decide what the kids are going to try. And then?

The magic of independence kicks in.  As one 10-year-old wrote to Let Grow:

“I couldn’t go 30 seconds without needing my mom.”

“I used to rely on my mom to do everything for me. Whenever I needed something, I’d ask my mom. Whenever I had a question, I’d go to her and she would answer it. My dad would joke with me that I couldn’t go 30 seconds without my mom.

But after trying on some independence:

“Now, I practice doing things on my own and figuring things out on my own. I’m getting better and better at leading myself. My life looks very different now!

“Let Grow Projects don’t celebrate an answer or product like traditional assignments,” says Gary Karlson, an assistant vice principal on Long Island. Instead, they plant the seeds of “a mindset that says ‘I can do this, I’ve got contributions to make, and each mistake isn’t going to derail me.’” 

When kids know we believe in them, anything is possible

When kids go beyond their comfort zone, they see not only how competent they can be, but how much their parents believe in them. As the kit’s letter spells out to parents:

When kids do something on their own for the first time, something big happens. They realize how deeply you believe in them. You realize how amazingly they’re growing up. Worries get replaced by the pride and joy of seeing your kids spread their wings.

The Kit helped parents see that even if their kids weren’t at school, or even – at the very beginning – doing much schoolwork at all, this didn’t have to be a fallow time, educationally. “Whenever  a child learns to do something new, whether that’s baking cookies, babysitting, or going outside to look for the Big Dipper – all of that is learning and social emotional skill development,” says Andrea Keith, Executive Director of Let Grow.

Calling All Parents and Educators!

Whether you’re a parent who’d like your kids to start doing some new things on their own, or an educator eager to see your students blossoming with newfound resourcefulness, we’ve got the kit for you:

Parents, click here for The Let Grow Independence Kit.

Educators, please download and share The Let Grow Project for Schools by clicking here.

And drop us a note and/or pictures to let us know how it’s going. We love to hear your stories: [email protected].org .

Photo of Let Grow Independence Challenge Winner Kingsley Perez, age 11.