Brachot Fair – Parental Projects

I just returned from my third grader’s brachot fair at his school. The boys were given a few weeks to work on a poster or a 3-D project – they had to choose one of the brachot (blessings) and design a project accordingly.

My son and his friend chose the bracha of reading a megillah. Working together, they designed a 3-D shul, open at the front, with a table with a “megillah” on it, and an aron kodesh – very appropriately done for 3rd graders. This Ima is so proud.

However. Yes, you knew there was a however coming. I was most unhappy that I could immediately separate the projects into 2 categories. Those that the boys worked on themselves, and those that the parents “helped” them. In some cases, it was even hard to tell if the boy himself had any involvement at all as the design was so intricate.

I am a control freak – there is nothing I would like more than directing my son’s projects and doing it all for him so that it is perfect, BUT I know that in the long run this will harm him and he won’t benefit from it at all so I stand back and bite my tongue. So I get that the parents want the boys’ projects to be the most awesome and the most amazing and for all his friends to go “wow!” – but when we complete projects and homework assignments for our kids, what message are they getting? They need to learn on their own, they have to learn about failure as well as success. They need to understand that putting in hard work and graft pays off and learn what that feeling of accomplishment is.

The school didn’t send home any guidelines saying there should be minimal parental involvement. Some boys are not mature enough to have been able to conceptualize their projects without adult help, and I understand that. There is a huge difference, though, between gentle coaching and doing the entire project!

My son was proud of his project and that’s really what matters to me.

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  1. ERICA says:

    Just like you Hadassah, I *never* had homework help as a child..I don’t know if my mother even knew (for the most part) WHAT my homework was. Homework was the child’s responsibility. Period.
    I think what you are describing is a somewhat dysfunctional aspect of American culture..parents wanting children to succeed (over the competition?) and putting in adult effort to insure that happens.

  2. Ariela says:

    I totally agree with Hadassah and Erica. I don’t help my kids with their homework. I am in the minority. I hope the system can tell the difference like Hadassah did at the fair.

  3. OlyC says:

    ‘The school didn’t send home any guidelines saying there should be minimal parental involvement.”
    I’m surprised that this would need to be stated. Shouldn’t the default be DON’T DO your child’s homework?

    Maybe it’s regional (I live on the West Coast), but my parents NEVER did my homework, and I’m not planning on doing my child’s homework.

  4. lady lock and load says:

    I would be interested to know, Hadassah, if the children were graded on their project or if a prize was given to the best presentation.

  5. Baila says:

    When Liat was 7, she had some kind of project and asked my husband to help her draw some safari animals. 12 hours later he was done–and it was a masterpiece worthy of a 35-year-old frustrated artist. He couldn’t stop himself and it was actually comical.
    Liat took the project into school, but told her teacher that her father did the art work, but the concept and attached report was hers. The teacher gave her an A for the report and sent a note home to Isaac giving him an A for the artwork. It was a proud moment for him and we never let him near her projects again.
    For the record, I totally agree with you. Kids should do these projects on their own. As for homework help–I WISH the kids would do it on their own, and they get better all the time–but sometimes they do need my help studying or answering a particular question. (Note: we made Aliya a couple of years ago and there are issues bec of the language).

  6. kisarita says:

    even if there is no prize, how does a child feel after doing all that hard work and walking into a room and seeing a bunch of professional creations done by adults that are out of their league?
    glad your son handled it well, but would other kids? A lot of adults don’t….

  7. fille says:

    and what if one of the parent’s homework was really the child’s?

    Imagine how offensive that is: No, you could not have done such a project. I’m sure it was your father…

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