Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Dreaded "Take Home" Project

It has begun. Stella’s first “take home” project was sent home from day care. My inner most type-A, strive to make things perfect personality has been challenged.

As a teacher, I am strongly against projects that are obviously parent made and not student created. It is important to help children develop their skills and this cannot be done when parents step in and do things for them. A second grade project, for example, is supposed to look like a second grader made it, however that may be.

When a heart came home for Valentine’s Day accompanied with instructions to encourage our children to use arts and crafts, I knew I was in trouble. I am no artist but I definitely have a strong urge to make things as perfect as they can possibly be. I set out in search of arts and crafts reminding myself that this was Stella’s project, not mine.

As we sat down together to decorate her heart, I allowed her to choose what colors she wanted, and where she wanted to stick things. I assisted her with gluing things down and holding the glitter, but I really let Stella decide what went where. This was hard for me. And when she was all done, I wanted to fix it. It is such a surreal experience to now be on the other side of the situation. As I once found myself frustrated with student projects that were clearly done by parents, I now found myself wanting to take over and fix up Stella’s precious little Valentine’s Day heart. She is months shy of being two-years-old and any artwork of hers is going to be chaotic and random, but I wanted it to be “pretty.” I wanted more colors, decorations spread more evenly, etc.

I was proud of her when she finished her heart project. I gave her a big hug and told her how beautiful it was. I am proud that I did nothing (I swear, not a single thing) to change what she chose to do. Following her direction, I glued and stuck things where she told me to. I took a picture of the heart before I brought it to day care. The first at-home art project that she completed. More importantly, the first of many projects that will require my support and assistance but not my doing. I can help her do her best, but I cannot make things better for her. This was a learning moment in parenting, more so for me than for Stella. I am happy to report, I can graduate to the next level.

The finished project

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