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✓ Making Parents Feel Like Failures

I saw this on Facebook the other day (text below the picture):

I loathe Science Fair Projects! They put a wedge in my relationship and love for my child...which is unconditional all the same. Tears were shed by both of us, headaches did not cease. The epic battle is over which was an experiment in and of itself. I just feel like it is a parent fail when this is happening. I will take on 20 book reports over one Science Fair Project. The End!

Is there any teacher that wants this kind of a response from a parent? Absolutely not!

A science fair project should be one of the best experiences for a student to do so,etching they are passionate about. There are entire schools that seek to make the science project approach the center of their learning.

So, what are the problems here?

  • There is a conversation about what an experiment is. Before the science project is even started it is over because the expectations were not clear enough. The directions should be stated clearly enough by the teacher that this discussion doesn't have a chance to start.
  • The mom is feeling pressure to do something that she is not qualified to do. We must give assignments that do not require parents to do the work we want the kids to do. My kids will likely never win a science fair because I will not do their work for them.

My family participated in a pinewood derby a couple weeks ago. My kids drew their cars on paper first, then drew cut directions on the blocks of wood, then painted them themselves. My job was to direct them on how to create something, not create it for them. I did cut them out on a bandsaw, because that was too dangerous for them. Their cars turned out really nice, but it was clear that their dad didn't do everything for them.

This mom felt like a failure. Imagine how that student feels about science fair projects.

We can do better.