Monday, June 4, 2012

Corrode-y to the Max

At Cara's school, homework isn't introduced until their fourth year.  As a fourth grader, her homework is assigned Wednesday and is due the following Wednesday.  This assignment usually consists of reading a story and writing a small essay in her journal about what she had read.  Nothing too terrifying.  

Little did we know that Cara had been harboring anxiety about having to do homework from the first through third grade.  The panic that this three year build-up produced closely resembled a Pavlovian experiment.  During her first few weeks of homework, I could literally hold up her assignment sheet and Cara would break into tears.  When I tucked the paper away, the tears would subside.

We tried a lot of different techniques to get the weekly assignments to be less stressful.  I've gotten all kinds of frustrated with my child throughout the school year, having tried bribing, threatening, and just plain leaving her alone to get her homework done each week.  Further into the school year, the Pavlovian reaction about the homework subsided and really the only obstacle was in getting her to just do the work.  No clue where she got the whole procrastination gene. *cough* both sides of the family *cough*    

A couple of months ago, Cara's class started working on their individual science experiments that each child would present at their Science Fair.  Cara's original idea "I want to make stuff rust" had to be refined into a testable hypothesis and backed up by research.  For this assignment, I nominated Craig to assist.  Partly because he's much better at the science stuff.  And partly (read: mostly) because there were A LOT of due dates connected with this assignment. I was plum tuckered out from being the one shooting smoke out of her ears when it was the night before a due date and nothing had been done.

Craig worked with Cara and they got a workable hypothesis and experiment set up.  I helped with the purchasing of materials (because I can handle the job of shopping) and stepped in here and there to make sure she was still on track, but, for the most part, I tried to stay out of it. I had told myself that I would take a back seat and let the results be her own, whether it was success or failure. 

With the Science Fair date quickly approaching, I was very nervous that Cara wouldn't have all of her work completed.  There were due dates coming and going and, other than a quick reminder that they were coming up, I left Cara alone to do what she thought that she needed to do.  Since most of her final work was to be done at school, I had no clue how her project had turned out.

Last Thursday was the moment of truth.  The Upper Elementary Science Fair.  

I walked into the Science Fair with my camera in hand.  Cara was set up in the middle of the gym, so I got to browse the experiments of many of her classmates.  I was impressed with the amount of work that had to have gone into each of these experiments.  I wondered if Cara's display would give other parents that same thought.
She was explaining her experiment to another parent when I approached.
This is the cover of her report. I adore the meticulously-cut letters in the word "rusty".
The only way she could have been more proud would be if she was me.
 Her report looked amazing and I do believe that the other parents were just as impressed with my child's work as I was with theirs.

Cara has come a long way this school year.  It has been such a joy to watch her grow and mature.  From the Pavlovian tears to the confident, "I've got this, Mom" attitude towards homework.  We still need to tackle procrastination. Maybe we'll work on that next year.  

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