Friday, March 21, 2014

School Projects: To Help or Not To Help

There's nothing that makes a mom feel more conflicted than a school project.

Take it from me.

To Help or Not to Help, that is the question.

When I was a kid, school projects involved poster board, a good set of markers, and the imagination of a child.


Those days are gone.  

Today's projects are fancy, elaborate, and high-tech.  They are to be made by the kids (wink-wink), but I've yet to find a third-grader who can do calligraphy or papier-mâché without some serious adult assistance.  Nor have I met a child with the artistic vision to transform a blank poster board into a three-dimensional, rain forest wonderland.

I'm crying foul.

And so I struggle.

Do I:

A)  step-in and serve as the voice of reason/taste/logic/direction/creativity on a child's school project;


B)  allow my child to craft whatever project his little mind can create knowing full well the finished product may appear about as legible as my doctor-husband's handwriting.

For Connor's latest project, I chose B.

Connor's assignment was to capture the essence of a Tasmanian Devil on a poster board.  He had a vision for his project; it went like this:
  • print out facts on Tasmanian Devils, 
  • cover board with brown paper, and
  • include a few pictures.
Done (and fulfilling the required guidelines of the project!).

I encouraged:

"Don't you want to make it in a Game Show Fashion?  Include some quizzes?"


"How about you dress as a zoologist?"

Seriously mom?

And so today he displayed his brown paper project amid a sea of museum-worthy masterpieces (aka school projects).  I gazed at the other stellar work and immediately felt unworthy.  Mommy guilt almost knocked the wind out of me.  Thoughts raced through my mind like:

"Why didn't I scour Pinterest for project ideas?"

"I should have bought a glue gun!"

"Why didn't I think about adding a motor?"

But I noticed that the one person who didn't seem to mind was Connor.

I asked, "Are you happy with your project?"

He beamed.

And so I stood a little taller.

I continued to wander around the room and soak in the scene.  Another mom stopped me to chat.  She cried, "My husband stayed up so late working on this project."

I smiled, "Really, I was up late watching TV."

And you know, I don't feel bad about it.

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