Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WARNING! Disgruntled Mommy (and Daddy)

This month Sarah's school conducted a contest for each of the kids and their families to create an arts and crafts project highlighting stories associated with the Mrs. Bush Storytime program that they had been exposed to. Each month, the classes each experienced being read a book, via DVD, by the former first lady herself, Barbara Bush.

Each family had the opportunity to focus on one or more books that were read to the children during the year and then to develop something creative to explain it to others.

Now, fully understanding that many children would need support from their parents to put together these masterpieces, one would hope that the children would play as much a part in the process.

So, when it came time for pick-up tonight at Sarah's school, the three winners had already been chosen. I was saddened not to see Sarah's project win or receive honorable mention, especially when I saw what she was competing again. Once I got past the disappointment I then looked closely at the winning choices and was even more annoyed to see that all of them didn't seem to include much, if at all any, child participation. They were too perfect.

I mean, come on. It's obvious when a perfectionist parent (Okay, I am not so far from this) wants their child's project to be great, but to do the entire thing for them and to say it involved the kid's participation is ridiculous.

My experience with Sarah making her diorama focusing on the particular book Corduroy was awesome. She got to color with crayons and markers, paint, apply stickers and glue on buttons. She also traced her hands nearly everywhere. Yes, I set up the box and taped all the things inside. But, you know that a child was involved in very many aspects of the project.

See for yourself.

I asked my husband, who was at school with me when we went to pick up Sarah, to see if I was overreacting or making more out of then I was. He confirmed his disappointment as well.

So now, being happy with Sarah's school for just the past few months since we moved, I am now stumped. I really need to question the staff and administrators as I worry that the winning choices give off a wrong message that perfection is what's best, and if it requires much (A LOT) of someone else's help to develop something then that's acceptable.

While I need to sleep on this before saying anything, I do intend to mention something to the administrators to ask what the criteria was as far as judging goes. I didn't need for Sarah to win or receive a mention. I would have liked to have seen a great competition with some awesome projects clearly created with children chosen as the winners, not only for us to enjoy and learn from but to also be enamored by and know that it was a fair process.

I remember way back when I was a child. My mom spent countless hours working with my sister and I on school projects. She loved doing them with us. Now, when I couldn't draw the ear for my science project, my mom helped me draw it. However, she made sure I wrote in all the language to go along with and the report too. So, while my mom helped she didn't do my project for me. If anything, it was a great bonding experience that until this day we still reminisce about.

So, parents, I urge you, and if you are perfectionist like I sometimes tend to be about certain matters, we need to let our children do, and maybe even fall short, or worse, fail. We need to be there to support them but we can't step in and do what needs to get done for them. How else do we expect our children to grow and learn and desire to want to learn more.

While I am still disappointed about the choices for best that were picked, Sarah has our number prize. Her project is proudly displayed in our home for her to see everyday and for friends and family that come to visit. Our home showcases her wonderful work. The good, the weird, the unusual, the beautiful, and all else.

As Sarah's mother I fully intend to continue to support her in her future endeavors to be creative, and then some, and to help her thrive. But, along the way, as much as she may want or need my help, I need to let her try, experience, explore and develop in order for her to find her way, determine what interests her (and not necessarily me) and help foster these interests moving forward. You should consider doing the same.

Any similiar experiences you would like to share?

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