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Are We There Yet?

I don’t know how the kids are doing spring fever wise, but I know at least one grown-up who is over this year. That would be me.

It’s not that the year hasn’t been a good one. It has! It’s just that at this point in the game, things are taking on a valedictory tone and I am ready to kick back and relax. I know that Simon’s reading has progressed nicely, his math is terrific as usual, and he is growing more confident and independent all the time. He is more than ready for second grade, and I’m feeling like my work here is done.

As a result of this feeling, I am happy to send Simon off to school every day, but I’m not so keen on activities that require parental supervision. Enter the most recent first-grade project. Every month, the first grade team has assigned an extra project for the kids to work on. There was a nature project, a doubles (math) project, a decorated Turkey project,  a Flat Stanley project, and a President’s Day project. All of these involve some degree of parental support, and most of them call on the exact skill set—cutting, pasting, arranging, drawing—where Simon needs the most help. He is not a crafty or artistic child at all.

Last Monday, Simon came home with a piece of paper that gave me the vapors: It was time for a shapes project. Each student was to go on a shape walk, look for the shapes they’ve been studying in class, and present to the class. It was due in a week, which is a much shorter deadline than usual. Meanwhile, Monday it rained, Tuesday Simon went home with my mom, Wednesday was soccer, Thursday was soccer, Friday was Oaks day and soccer, Saturday was Derby Day, drumming, and a play-date, and Sunday was his best friend’s birthday party. And oh yeah, my dad is still in the rehab center recovering from his knee replacement surgery.

Mama had NO interest in getting out the construction paper, poster-board, and all that jazz again. In fact, mama was feeling pretty bitter about the entire endeavor and actively encouraged procrastination. Then mama read the fine print: “students can make a poster, a book, or even a multi-media presentation.”

Technology to the rescue! It may not be what Simon would most benefit from, but doing the whole shebang digitally was certainly going to make my life easier, and I was all about the easy. The two of us went to the park, Simon found and posed with shapes he liked, I took all the pictures with my digital camera, and then we came home and loaded the suckers into a PowerPoint slide deck for which Simon provided captions.

Easy peasy. No glue, markers, stickers, or tears were involved in this project. When we finished, I sent the whole thing to the teacher as an email attachment, which was also a heck of a lot easier than driving Simon across town to deliver a giant poster.

This wasn’t what Simon needed to do to develop the most, and some of the technology we used, specifically the PowerPoint, was over his head and not age appropriate. Having said that, it was a snap for me and I have no regrets. We’ll get back to fine motor skills and visual presentations next August. Is it summer yet?

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