Make-work Pro...

Make-work Projects?

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By Lianne Castelino

Does anyone know do they teach children the nuts and bolts of how to do projects in school anymore? Or do they just get assigned from the very first day – say Grade 3 or 4 and let them fend for themselves no explanation, no examples  just execution kids.

I continue to wonder. And I’m not impressed. Because I think the answer is an unequivocal NO.

It makes me contemplate the actual purpose of a project. To get kids interested in a topic and to have them learn more about it, my assumption.

But why then do so many parents end up ripping their hair out so as not to have their kids rip theirs??

I learned with my first a long time ago that parental involvement in projects was not a good thing.

Gentle guidance, forceful prodding and then all-out badgering sure I can handle that. But assisting my child with his project was never a good idea.
Sure like all parents I did end up helping the first child organize some of his ideas. But that was then and this is now. No MORE.

I happen to firmly believe that projects before Grade 6 are completely useless. With the internet and plagiarism ripe everywhere what is the point really?

Why not dedicate project time to something more engaging like what my daughter’s class experienced recently.

Her phenomenal SK teacher brought an incubator into the classroom with 12 eggs and for 21 days the class talked about the process what was happening and what would happen when those chicks hatched.

What an incredible experience for those little minds! It all culminated in the class visiting a farm earlier this week where the little chicks were dispersed into their more natural surroundings.

My daughter’s face, through this process, has lit up daily from ear to ear talking about those eggs, that incubator and those chicks. When she told us about getting to feed them at the farm she was beside herself with joy. She may just become a veterinarian after this!

That is learning. Pure and simple. Applying concepts to real-life, examples that children can relate to. Don’t just talk about it  show them. Get them engaged, let them appreciate the process and most of all inspire their creativity.

Stoke that learning fire till it’s a raging inferno what an awesome feeling for a child.

Projects, may fulfill that for some kids and their parents…but I politely disagree, especially when they become make-work projects for parents.

Instead of building volcanoes and doing dioramas of countries and famous people – why not re-introduce creative writing into the curriculum once again.  You know, once a week write a story about anything you want and draw a picture about it.  And then once a week bring in a project-like topic, call it an “advanced show and tell experience”,  or arrange a field trip to the school yard to discover something new.  Sometimes the best learning is done right under our noses.  Hands-on is the key.