Real Mom Daily- Elementary School

“Assuming your third grader will not be taking the car to get poster board anytime soon, you as the mom can add this to your weekly tasks. ”

Oh the dread of  school projects. The diorama, the Family Tree chart, the Invention Convention creation that all ends up being one more thing that falls under the category of mom’s to do list. Depending on the age of your elementary school child, the degree to which these school project burdens will fall on your shoulders may vary. But assuming your third grader will not be taking the car to get poster board anytime soon, you as the mom can add this to your weekly tasks. Along with plugging all the due dates into your calendar and scraping the depths of your creative mind to help your child come up with an ingenious invention idea that has not already been thought of by anyone else, ever, and is not presently being hocked on QVC.

This may sound cynical and I should say that, of course, I am in support of anything that is constructively aiding in my child’s education. I certainly do think that parents should be actively involved in their child’s learning. At our house, we do homework together every night. What I do have a problem with, is the preposterousness that this is the child’s responsibility. The crux of the work, from the gathering of the materials to the execution of displaying that family tree on a large piece of poster board in some semblance of order while carefully cutting out your brothers newly divorced ex wife, will fall on you. There are details and nuances to these projects that no elementary aged child can really do. And so the burden falls on the parents.

Our last school had a very strict no parental help with projects rule. They would specifically request that we stay hands off other than providing the necessary materials. The logic being, you parents have already gone to elementary school and we don’t really care how good you are at dioramas. I appreciated this approach because not only did it take the pressure off my dubious craft abilities but it also leveled the playing field to kid versus kid.

When my child was in first grade there was a diorama due of an animal in it’s natural habitat. I spent a small fortune on materials, faux trees, etc. I’m embarrassed to admit how much of my handy work was on display in that little box. My child got the highest marks available. The kids who threw a stuffed animal in a box with dirt and leaves, who really did that shit on their own, did not.

I wondered, what did my child actually learn from this process? I learned that I’m awesome at dioramas and can procure the necessary materials, put them together in a shoe box habitat and get my kid an” A.” But I have a hunch this was not the point of this exercise. If it was really about the kids, then my obvious construction should not have been so highly rewarded.  Was this a test of our parenting skills or some kind of tell of how much free time on our hands we had? I still wonder.

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