Wednesday, November 17, 2010

11/17/2010 Projects

These school projects are ruining our lives. Really!

I get home from work and before doing anything else, go straight to the office to get Julian started. Tonight I also had to do something for Gabriel (find and print a black-and-white Canadian flag so he can color it). I spend at least an hour trying to herd the boys with this work, running back and forth between the rooms where they're set up and the kitchen, while attempting to make dinner and take care of everything else. If Dave gets home in time, he helps too, but much of the trouble is in keeping Katrina from distracting them.

As a result, we've had dinner far far too late every night, after 7:00. This pushes bedtime far too late -- as I type, Katrina is crying her eyes out about not wanting a bath, way overtired, and it's that much more difficult to keep the boys on track. My main thoughts about Thanksgiving have been how on earth we're going to finish Julian's project by Nov. 29th, the Monday after the break. I spend dinnertime either in the office trying to keep up with school things (contribution for teacher gift, paying for Katrina's preschool gymnastics, ordering shoes, whatever) or rushing around the kitchen cleaning lunchbags and making lunch for the next day. Actually sitting and talking to everyone is out of the question, and besides, I need a break by then.

It's clear from the project instructions that they think this will promote family time together. It has the exact opposite effect. Time in the evenings with my children is little more than a stressful nagfest. There are good moments, but there is little opportunity for relaxed enjoyable time together, like listening to Gabriel's latest blues composition on the piano.

Gabriel actually has two reports due in early December. One is a "country studies" report (on Canada) and one is a "passport to the 3rd grade" project, in which he has to answer pages of questions about his ancestors, where they arrived in the U.S, where they came from, etc. This is not something he can do himself, he needs a great deal of time and interaction. In fact, the intent is to work on it over Thanksgiving, when presumably we'll be with family members to ask all the questions!! GREAT IDEA! Let's spend Thanksgiving with family doing schoolwork!

On top of it, I just discovered that while I escaped a craft project for the "country studies" report, the "passport" report includes a freakin' clothespin doll. I HATE THOSE!! Oh yeah, AND, a multicultural feast, in which we're supposed to bring a dish from the "passport" country. That's two cooking projects.

"Gabriel's in 3rd grade, isn't he supposed to do these things himself?" Dave asked. Not a clothespin doll. Not a recipe from Canada. Not a dish from France. Not pages of questions that can't be answered by looking things up yourself. Not going to the library to get books on Canada. Not planning your time, reading through the pages of instructions, and breaking it down into projects that can be done in an evening.

Julian's report is turning into a nightmare too. He's cooperative and wants to do it, but he resists direction on how to do it. For instance, I'm suggesting that he write his sentences on a separate paper than the one he does the drawings on, then cut out the drawings and glue them to the paper with the sentences. That way, if he makes mistakes in the sentences, he doesn't spend half an hour erasing everything. Kids erase FAR FAR too much, it looks awful, takes forever, and leaves eraser scraps all over the place and it's SUCH a pain! But he can't be convinced to do his sentences and drawings separately. I get impatient and have to leave it -- after all, I have dinner on the stove and can't spend a lot of time persuading him in how to put this together. It is his project, but if he makes a mistake he will want to do the drawings all over again, and we already ruined one evening just getting those done. So far he's almost done 3 out of the 6 pages he has to do, and it's taken about 6 very painful nights to get even just that done.

It's quite clear the school is geared toward families with 1 or 2 children, two parents, one who stays at home, and parents from cultures who don't mind extra work.

I guess I have to expect to ruin this weekend in order to save Thanksgiving. This SUCKS.


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