Monday, March 24, 2014

The Learning Fair

This past week Aiden had a learning fair at his school. This is an event where the kids can pick any topic they're interested in to research and then present. Aiden came racing home the day he heard about it and begged to do a project. On the outside I was very excited because, well, I had to be. Learning is super fun! On the inside however, I imagined all the extra work this was going to create when he eventually bailed halfway through because he's a kindergartener with the attention span of...well....a kindergartener. That might sound cynical but he's a typical kid whose interests are very mercurial and I don't have a whole ton of extra time these days.

We talked about what he'd like to do and he bounced from topic to topic. Bugs! Ladybugs! Volcanoes! Birds! Sharks! All the bugs on the whole planet! The night before the deadline to sign up I finally put my foot down and suggested Shetland sheepdogs since we have our very own subject to study. He agreed. I suggested some websites to check out, we printed off some information and pictures and I bought some poster board. He decided what info he thought was important, he cut and pasted pictures by himself and painstakingly copied the facts that I wrote out for him.

I ended up doing very little of it and he followed through on each part. Each day he sat down and wrote, glued and colored in this poster. At the very end he was so proud of his work and that was just the most heartwarming thing. The little moments of watching your child work and accomplish something that you weren't even sure they were ready for is one of the best things in life. Of course, I was worried too. He worked really hard but he's still mastering his handwriting and his cutting skills and I was afraid he'd be taking this awesome, adorable but slightly wobbly effort into a fair filled with typed out, totally perfect posters.

He kept working right up until the day of the presentation. Even though the poster was done he told me he'd been practicing saying all the facts to himself each night as he fell asleep. Hearing that almost had me in tears because he was working so much harder than I expected and this perfectionist streak is something I can relate to for better and worse. I really didn't realize how seriously he'd take the whole thing and it made me really hope he could maintain this pride in his hard work regardless of what everyone else's looked like.

The night of the learning fair was great. He was really nervous at first because, much like me, he hates crowds and it was packed. But eventually he loosened up and got to talk about his poster to his friends and his teacher. As it turned out his poster was perfectly imperfect and almost every other kindergartener had hand written and decorated their work.

Of course, this project taught Aiden all about Shetland sheepdogs the satisfaction of hard work. It taught me that maybe I need to have a little bit more confidence in my children's abilities and to just get out of their way sometimes. He's clearly got a lot to teach me.

The master and his masterpiece

No comments :