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.