In theory, school projects are a good idea. Instead of just spending weeks learning that A+B=C, students make something that applies the concept. In reality, the projects are almost always done primarily by parents while children watch them and listen to an endless lecture about why they are doing this or that. “…and what do you call this process?” I’m not admitting that I do more than my share of my children’s school projects. I am just acknowledging that for every child you have, you are going to repeat elementary and middle school yourself. Okay, maybe not every child. Some children (cough, Sarah, cough) are so independent and self motivated that they insist on doing everything themselves and the result is better than the parent could have assisted creating. Other children have to be dragged tooth and nail to finish school projects.
Our children are so far apart in age that you would think new lesson plans and assignments would be given to each of them. You would be mistaken. The kindergartner is doing the same things that every one of her older siblings did. I should whine that new technology needs to be utilized better each year. Instead, I must confess that it is a relief to do a project a second, third and fourth time. The first time you get a project assigned, you spend most of the time on it just trying to decide what and how. During this process, you get frustrated at your child’s complete inability to apply their newly learned skill. “Didn’t you just learn this?” Eventually, you dig in to make something and end up realizing the problems with your plan sometime after the stores have closed for the day. Compromises are made to just get done so that parent and child can actually get some sleep before the next day arrives. The SECOND time you get the same project assigned, you send the child to the basement to study the older sibling’s project. Then, you breeze through the project. “If you do it that way, it will do this instead of that.” We are now experts on leaf collections, proportionally accurate solar system measurements, edible cells, cell organelle detectors, Flat Stanley and a dozen other standard school projects. Sometimes, we even get lucky with other school activities. If your child tells you at bedtime that they want to be an Indian at school the next morning, take a dozen safety pins to a Daniel Boone costume, add a headband and poof! Recycled costume. Sometimes, life is easy. And fun.