Monday, April 4, 2016

School Projects

     It is that time of year when Open House looms on the calendar for all teachers and parents.  It is the perfect time for teachers to show off all that the students have learned and for parents to come to terms with the fact that their child is about to finish their current grade and move on into the future.

     With Open House comes projects.  Every teacher wants their classroom to showcase the best work and likely some pinterest inspired ideas.  While most projects occur in the classroom at this time (to surprise mom and dad.)  Naturally one or more make it home to be completed in off school hours.

     My oldest two are in the 3rd and 1st grades.  They both have projects looking right now.  My first grader came home with an assignment to learn about an animal and build a pyramid style diorama with writing, a habitat, and a poem.  Cue the complaints from parents.

     It seems in today's world parents don't want to contribute to their child's projects.  Everyone is incredibly busy with this and that and well they think the project is to complicated for a child to do. Some parents went so far as to question the principal (thankfully she agreed with the teacher).

     As is our teacher and she clearly on multiple occasions pointed out that this is the child's project.  Our job as parents is to guide them.  Don't get me wrong - mom (and some dads) have to take the kids to the library, help kiddos research on the internet, buy supplies, help construct said pyramid, and inevitably help their child with correct spelling, facts, and placement of the pieces, but it is their project.  Their work, their ideas, their creation.

I was ECSTATIC!

     I have been waiting years for the day my kids would have a project to do at home.  I couldn't wait to help my little one create this thing and make it a masterpiece.  Yet as I pondered the teacher's words: "this is the student's project" my pinterest inspired ideas vanished.  I thought of the work my daughter could do on her own and of what she would think looked amazing.  And that folks is what we did.

     My favorite sentence from her writing portion was in response to a fur seal's predator: "Orcas eat fur seals, it might be sad but it is the food chain."  I would never have written that but it put to paper her exact feelings.  She was sad that the seals would be eaten but she knew it had to happen.

     Oh we had our arguments about not wanting to do the project and not liking that her answer was wrong.  And the arguments when I didn't like her answer and thought she could do better even though she was correct.  But in the end her project was so uniquely her.  It was beautiful and a little silly, somewhat brutally honest but it was her.

     I am humbled that I was able to work on the project with her.  To see just how far she has come in this first grade year.  To see her thought process in action.  To see her cry when she heard about the orcas and the fur seal coats people make.  For her excitement to know that fur seals like seafood just like her.

     Our at home project experience was awesome and I am so glad I had this experience.  I don't want projects every week or even every month but once in awhile I think they can be great bonding tools.

     So next time your child comes home with a project - that they are likely over the moon about-- share their enthusiasm and let them know you are excited to spend time working with them and sharing in their learning.

     Now I must say adieu as I prepare materials for my other daughter's soda pop bottle model of Sacajawea and the report that goes with it.

Ash of All Trades

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