SOMWaD: Why I Don't "Do" School Projects

Back in elementary school, my son would have maybe one major project a year to do.  Maybe less because I don't recall a major project for last year (4th grade) and  the one that really sticks out for me was 3rd grade where students were assigned a state.  They had to draw a map of the state and include landmark sites.  My son had Vermont and while it was his project, I fully admit that my husband and I helped him out. We helped him out a lot.

This year my son has already had several projects to do.  There have been two small French projects, one Science project and one large (in both size and complexity) Social Studies project.  With the exception of typing up some questions and answers (which my son had already written) for the Social Studies project (and hitting the print button), I had nothing to do with any of these projects.  They were all on his shoulders.

So why did I finally "make" my son do his own projects?  Why did I "abandon" him?

I'd like to say that it's because I finally was wise enough to realize that it was time for him to do his own work.  That in order to survive in this world, he needs to know how to do things on his own without parental help.  But that would be a baldfaced lie.  As much as I would like to "let go," I'm still very much a parental supervisor.

The truth of the matter is that he is good at it.  He's a good artist (much better than me), so he's got that down pat.  He knows his stuff.  He's getting more and more comfortable about using a computer for research.  (Although he still has a long way to go, perhaps these project really do serve a higher purpose as they "force" him to use technology that he is not 100% comfortable with.)  He has an excellent eye for placement and layout.

How did I come to realize this?  Well, thanks to the encouragement of my husband, he started working on several of his projects early in the game.  (I would have done the same if I had been home.  I HATE waiting till the last minute to do things.  Which is one of the reasons I asked his science teacher if there would be a current event due in December, as I knew we would have some family down time over the Thanksgiving holiday and it seemed like that would have been a great time to get that squared away. )  I came home from work and saw what he had done/started.  As much as I wanted to jump in and help; it was clear that my help wasn't really needed.  (In all honesty it might have actually hindered it.)

And to make it abundantly clear, when he recently came home with a new project to complete and I started to step in, he turned to me and said, "Mom I've got this."  So I let it go.  It wasn't easy, but I let it go.

He was right; he came home with a A- on the project.  Would my "help" have pulled him up to an A or A+?  I doubt it.  And while a good grade is nice, it IS supposed to be a learning experience for him, not for me.  It IS supposed to be his work, not mine.

Of course I am the one who walked away with the lesson.  It's time to start letting go.  School projects are for students, not for parents.  By letting go, I was able to see my son's real talents.


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