Talking to kids about their projects

Another day, another obvious-thing-that-I-should-have-realized-long-ago. I often would hear from my students that, after bringing their projects home, their parents disliked or ignored their work. It never made sense to me – they spend so much time and effort on them, so much thinking and struggle went into these projects.

But now my own kids are in 4th grade and have been bringing home projects for years. In kindergarten, it is easy to ham-it-up and have them tell you all about them. Speaking as a parent, as the years go by, you stop seeing them for what they are. The projects are still made out of paper, tape, and cheap materials. They are more complex and larger but also quite fragile and probably slightly broken by the time they make it home. As a parent, I am slightly ashamed to admit I didn’t celebrate each project as it got home, ask them what went wrong or right, and what they experienced while making them.

I realized this tonight and asked for the latest project to come upstairs. Looking at it more closely, it had much more detail and effort put into it than the first glance provided. The stories and thinking that we discussed resulted in a deep, self-assured confidence that wasn’t there before.

I even apologized for not seeing it sooner and promised myself to do better. This whole new understanding is another part of the puzzle on why students change in middle school.

No-one caring about their hard work isn’t going to result in continued hard work.

A new vision for education

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