Monday, February 1, 2010

Bench Talk: Kid's School Projects

Your child comes home from school and you ask if they have any homework. They reply that they were assigned a project. You cringe.....

I don't know why you would cringe at projects. I love projects, my only wish is the kids would leave me alone so I could do their project my way! Honestly, I have learned so much through the teenagers projects over the years. I've learned about the emperor penguin, numerous beetles, our family tree, gears and pulleys, castles, Egyptian Gods. I have even helped friend's kids with theIR projects and always look forward to my grade! The little one has not really done any projects. I have noticed the difference between the two girls in reference to their education. The teenager was writing book reports, making Bristol board projects as early as grade two. The little one really hasn't done anything like that. I stand corrected, in November the little one and her friend did a project on Canada's Arctic lowlands. KD and I had much fun researching and coming up with ideas. Which I must say the little one did not use any of our ideas and insisted on collaborating only with her friend.

(Sunshine) There have been so many projects done in our home. Miss Teen Sunshine is the project queen. She throws herself right into the project. She really devotes hours and hours to completing the project to her satisfaction. She has over the years ended up with some very impressive work. She works on projects like she does everything else in life, she takes her time and does it her way and always does very well. She has never really asked for any help unless it was to ask for ideas (before I even finish my sentence she runs back to her room with some brilliant idea that the mere opening of my mouth has given her for another idea) and on occasion I have gone in at 2:00 in the morning to see if she will let me cut paper or glue something down so that she could finally get to bed. Miss Teen Sunshine thrives on doing projects. I think it is because she likes to let her personality be reflected in her work and we all know how much she loves attention!

Little Miss Sunshine seems to take a very different approach. The faster she gets it done the better. If anyone tries to give her any advice once she has already started her project then she contorts her body into strange shapes and complains about how her head and her back hurt and how she can't possibly do anymore work! She ends up with projects that are visually complete but lack content. She has very strong beginnings and conclusions but somehow she always manages to be very weak on the body. She does not really read the directions and does not have the patience to do the prep work to get her ready for working on the project. Her marks come back and they are OK. I hope that she will at some point not be satisfied with her marks and work a little harder but I don't know, maybe projects are just not her thing. If it involves working with her hands, then it is a different story. A few weeks ago there was a build your own instrument project that she really got into. She can come up with a concept, build it (her favourite part) and present it. The written part of that particular assignment was completed in class so I did not see it and the marks have not come home as of yet so I am not sure how she did. I can only tell you that if it involves research and planning and writing things down and having to organize them on paper then she just likes to whiz right threw all of that. She is much better when she can work on things with her hands in a three- D type of way than on a flat piece of paper. She was working on her speech this weekend. Once again her beginning and conclusion were amazing. But, when we discussed how she needed a lot more detail in her body she showed me how she had just enough paragraphs that were required and her speech made it just between the 2 minute and 3 minute mark. I further tried to explain that this was not enough as I still did not have enough information to understand what she meant by the 12 signs of the zodiac. I also showed her where she did not complete the steps to organizing her speech which the teacher had sent home and need to be filled in and handed in with her speech. Once again she got a really huge headache and her back was hurting. She had worked on it all day ( really it was maybe half an hour or so). Oh well, I let her be, I figure she will learn that it is not enough and want to do more or maybe she is just satisfied with what she has produced. We will have to see how all the projects effect her marks this term. To be very honest Little Miss Sunshine deals with projects the way that she does everything else, fast and furious. If you let her be then she is happy, if you get involved in anyway that will require her to do more work, then she will be miserable. In the end she studies in the same way and does her homework in the same manner. She always finished fast and seems to have a lot of time to do the things that she likes.

I have learned over the years to let Miss Teen Sunshine complete things in her own way even though she is up very late every night. Her marks are very good and she learns a lot. I will have to learn to do the same with Little Miss Sunshine (but I may have to wait until second term report cards come home to see how these projects will effect her overall marks).

I cringe when the boys come home with projects. They are in french immersion and their projects are always in french. They always have to have an oral presentation and something visual to present. They are given enough time. I like them to just get it done ahead of time, however, they always have a different idea. It comes down to the night before it's due and the panic sets in. We help them somewhat (it's hard not to) and they will finish. They do bring home a good mark and I always wonder if Hubby and I have higher expectations than the teacher? Now that they are in high school and grade 8 we tend to let them work at their own pace with gentle reminders. A funny thing though, I remember one of their teachers in grade school telling me that the object of the projects that are sent home is for the parents and kids to work together on them! So, I guess Carolin is right when she waits to see what mark "she" gets on her projects!

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