Oh, how the pendulum has swung. I was part of the free-range generation. We ran around, almost always unsupervised. I came home to a house full of extended family who spoke little to no English, helped myself to food, and went back outside. I watched lots of TV like Full House and ER. I even imagined I was in the Salt-N-Peppa band when home alone, dancing to “What a Man,” in my living room. When it came to school and homework, my immigrant parents were too busy working to help me, and if I was lucky and (maybe) made honor roll, I’d receive the ultimate treat: a dinner out at Pizza Hut. More or less, I was self-raised and responsible for my homework, school science projects, and even college applications.
So you can imagine my shock when I crashed the neighborhood school science fair and witnessed the outrageous, obviously-parent-invented science projects on display there. It was like I had entered Pinterest, except the kids were standing next to these elaborate projects as if they were their own. I was speechless visiting each table. Even kindergartners had science projects there! Except, judging from the handwriting, I know they didn’t.
When did the school project become a family project? When did it become my responsibility to do my son’s work? More importantly, how did you, family member who helped their kid, find time to do even do this project?
As a working mom, I have lots of guilt:
- I work too much.
- I don’t volunteer in the classroom enough.
- I don’t spend enough time with my kids.
- On school holidays, I come up with sketchy childcare arrangements (at best) so I can continue working.
But the big one is:
I refuse to do homework with my kids in their elementary years; I have 2-3 hours with my kids every day after school and you better believe we won’t be doing homework (e.g. science projects) during that time. I will reconsider this after fifth grade when research shows homework may be beneficial for children. However, at the moment I find homework to be a hassle, and I would rather spend time with my kid reading than helping them complete mindless worksheets or fancy, big projects.
So, these fancy science projects have to go. Especially if you are doing them for your kids. Let’s level the playing field of competition by letting the kids do the work; it teaches them hard work, integrity, and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It also encourages them to have the independence they need to be successful in life as they grow older. So, for the sake of my kids, and the future of our children, can you let the kids do their own science projects? I promise you, it will work out if they don’t win first, second, or third place.