Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Second Grade Science Fair and Being the Child of a Teacher

There's no question that children of teachers face specific challenges.  In fact, it can lead to some off results ...

But seriously, here's the big one, at least as far as I'm concerned: I refuse to do my children's schoolwork for them, a fringe benefit that I understand most teens get from their parents.

In the name of full disclosure, I wrote a paper for Addie once.  It was for an elective class, a straight "read and regurgitate" research paper that I knew Addie was perfectly capable of writing herself in about twenty minutes.  She was having a meltdown over finishing her A.P. English work, and ... well ...

But it truly was a one-shot deal ... and I would never have done it if I hadn't 100% known she could have done it herself.  We did have some long conversations about time management after that, though ...

No, I'm having a very different problem at the moment, one that ironically mirrors the moment of hypocrisy I just confessed.

Belle is having a science fair tomorrow.

She has been working on her project for weeks.

She is dreading--DREADING--the science fair tomorrow.

Okay, here's what happened.

Belle came home from school with an assignment to create an invention that would solve a problem she encounters regularly.  Her first thought was to buy a wooden robot to put stuff in.  That was not okay with Mommy (although, in retrospect, I bet Belle wishes I'd gone for it).

Nope, Henry and I went through this whole process with her (Henry is, of course, also a teacher).  What things are hard for you? We went through everything from remembering to brush her teeth without being told to laying out her clothes for the week.

That wasn't successful, so Henry asked her, "What's something that really annoys you?"

Belle's immediate response?  "Mollie and her balls!"

My golden retriever has an obsession with balls.  She hides them under furniture and then scratches at the floor until you lift it up and let her get the ball.  It's a nightmare.

So Belle invented something she calls "The Ballie", which is basically a cardboard block for the ball.  If Mollie drops her ball on a piece of furniture in a way that it will bounce to the floor and roll under the furniture in question, "The Ballie" stops it.

In other words, Belle's SELF-CREATED idea that she came up with ON HER OWN after discussing different options actually WORKS ... and she's embarrassed by it.

Why?

Because I forced her to make "The Ballie" herself.  To be fair to her, she did.  She used her little crocodile scissors and painstakingly cut up cracker boxes, duct taping them together in a way that created a barrier that kept Mollie from wreaking havoc with her balls.

"The Ballie" doesn't look like much, but it works ... and as a teacher, I am incredibly proud of the inquiry that went into it.

Belle?  She's upset because the other projects all "look better".  Sally's dad built a tree to hang clothes on.  Joshua's mom bought a bunch of craft supplies to decorate the bird feeder that his grandpa made.  We live in a very affluent community, so you can probably see where this is going.

I refused to help Belle make a good-looking "Ballie".  I certainly could have tried to spiff up what she had, and Henry could really have done some amazing things with wood or something, but I did not want this to by my project.

This was Belle's project, and she did an outstanding job.

I'm sitting here now feeling guilty as heck, though.

I mean, as a teacher, it drives me crazy when I can tell that parents made a project (or, God forbid, wrote an essay).  After all, it's supposed to be about what a child knows, the whole process of learning.  It matters not what it looks like if learning went on ...

But it does, at least to Belle ... which makes me think that maybe I should have spent more time making some glizty, glamoury thing for her to show off tomorrow instead of the knowledge that she gained.

The teacher part of me knows that what I did (namely, allowing Belle to go through the entire scientific process and create her own project) was correct.  The parent part of me wants to cry because her jaggedly-cut, duct tape-sporting Cheez-It boxes are going to be set up next to projects that were created in Sara's dad's basement woodshop.

Why do I feel so damn guilty right now?  

Back Again :-)

Well, hello :-)

I've come to terms with the fact that I need to have extended writing breaks sometimes.  Unfortunately, this involves blogging.

Honestly, I've been horribly sick.  Getting better by the day, but it's been a long haul.  No excuse for being a blog slacker, but I've been getting my stuff together in all aspects of my life.

Things are good ... how could they not be when you have blessings like these?