long-term projects and a question

Avatar for betsy411
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Registered: 03-27-2003
long-term projects and a question
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 2:49pm
My fifth grader has been doing a "country report". They were told of it at the beginning of the school year, did a bit in January, but the whole thing has hit full force in the last few weeks.

The kids each picked a country, and they have to research government, customs, flags, education, food, tourist attractions, currency, ETC. Thankfully the internet has been a lifesaver, although we have made two trips to the public library. There is an outline, **many** note-cards, rough drafts on each separate topic, and finally a full report. The flags are done and displayed in the hall. The brochures (advertising the country) were due today. The full report (with all note cards and rough drafts and the final copy)is due on Monday, and open house is Tuesday night. It HAS to be done by then! This is all IN ADDITION to regular homework! Ds' teacher is VERY nice, but not too organized, and I honestly don't know how much class time has been given to let the kids work on this project.

Steven picked Madagascar because he is fascinated with lemurs, but he's now finding about there is much more to the country than cute animals! It has been very good for him to learn about an entirely different culture.

I'm frustrated - I remember this kind of thing in sixth grade, but even then it wasn't so detailed. Steven is a perfectionist, and when he hits an overload he just shuts down and cries or yells. I asked the teacher if there would be less homework this week to let the kids concentrate on this, and she said there would be no spelling. Okay........a start, but he is still bringing home math and language. He worked ALL of last weekend on this, and is heading for one more long weekend to finish it. I feel for him - he hardly has any time to play or wind down anymore!!!

Here's my question, if you have made it this far: The final copy is either to be written in erasable ink, with no more than two erasures per page, or it can be typed. But if it's typed, the child must do all of the typing themselves. My dh is a computer guy, and he types fast! I'm VERY tempted to let dh type the final copy to speed things up. Steven has done ALL of the work himself, but I just want this to be over with and he will take a LONG time if he writes the whole thing by hand. He has two or three note cards still to complete, and one rough draft (on customs) that he has not finished.

Would it be okay to let dh type this??? Am I a bad mom for even thinking that we should skirt the rules a bit? HELP!

I REALLY wish the teacher had paced the whole project better. I'm tired, and I KNOW my son is, too! Ugh! I keep telling ds that spring break is very near, and he will survive this! It just seems like too much stress for 10 and 11 year olds.

Thanks for "listening". Sorry about the long vent!!! --Betsy--

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 3:25pm
My first thought was to say "yeah, go ahead and type it for him" I mean, IMO, all the hard work is doing the research & organizing the information. To me, the typing is just busy work. However, what would happen if your DS turned in the report and his teacher asked him if he typed it himself? I don't know why she would, but it could happen. At that point your DS has 2 choices: Lie to his teacher or tell the truth. I don't think letting him lie to his teacher is a very good idea. It does sound like the kids have had a lot of work to do, but what message does that send to your son? What happens the next time he feels a teacher, parent or even a future boss has given him an unfair amount of work? That it's OK to have someone else do work that you were specifically told to do and then take credit for it. On the other hand, if he tells the truth, he runs the risk of getting his grade lowered, and after all his hard work that would be a shame.

So, I would say to have him write it or type it himself. I know typing can be tedious when you're not that fast, but I think it's a better option than writing it out by hand. If you're using erasable ink, why should it matter how many times you've had to erase? I'd be happy that kids are catching their mistakes intead of turing in a paper with errors, but I'm not a teacher, so I don't know the reasons behind the "2 erase" rule. At least if he typed it on the computer you could proofread it and correct any miskates. I would hate to see him handwriting the same page over and over beacuse he made the dreaded "3rd error".

But, I'm what my DH calls a "rule follower". I always follow rules even when I don't like them. LOL. Good luck to your DS. It will all be over soon. Maybe after he turns it in you can take him someplace special where he can blow off some steam.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 4:41pm
Hi, Betsy,

I'm sorry that this has been so stressful for you. It sounds like your son is gifted, as well as a perfectionist (just guessing, based on the choice of Madagascar), so everything isn't just perfect, it's also voluminous with detail!

I'm agree with Nicole on this one. I often type for my kids, but not if the teachers expressely forbids it. Honesty is worth much more in the long run than any grade.

You can still support him. Keep your son company at the computer, so he doesn't feel alone. Make sure that he takes short breaks -- maybe a walk outdoors with Mom or Dad to reduce the stress. And, include a treat at the end. I always buy my kids a paperback novel when they finish a big project.

By the way, these projects are not uncommon. My fifth grader did his country report at the beginning of the year (Sri Lanka!) and he's now doing a 7-part biography. Just wait until he gets to junior high!



Avatar for myiiiisons
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 9:38am
I'm thinking he needs to follow the teachers rule and type it himself...even though you may consider it too demanding (I think so too...2erasure rules is dumb) considering the amount of work he's already done. And that it's crunch time. It'll teach him lots of skills like working on a deadline, dealing with stress effectively, time management, following & not bending rules, organizational skills. I do feel for you I've been there many a time and try to help as much as possible or allowable.

I remember doing massive projects like that in probably 6th or 7th...I wish my 8th grader had these sort of things. He doesn't even bring home a backpack somedays...Sometimes he calls me from school..."It's my rotation period, And we don't have anything to do so the teacher sent us to the gym or we're sitting outside for the rest of the day...2hours!

Anywhodilly, Good Luck

Nanc 4Boys 16, 13, 4 & 1

Avatar for cl_denise1066
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Registered: 03-19-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 9:34pm
Wow, that sounds like so much work. I agree with the others that it would be best for your son to type it himself. Mason did a report like that in 5th grade & his teacher had them type them in the computer lab at school during their computer time. Mason's was on the planet Mars & I think he felt a great sense of accomplishment when it was all done & he had done every bit of the work himself.



p.s. I think the reward or treat when it is all done is also a great idea.

Denise *CL for