It's every parent's nightmare...the dreaded Science Fair. But why? There must be some positive factors that have kept this historic tradition alive. As my daughter and I fine tuned her project, I gradually realized why the Science Fair is relevant and how it raised my daughter's self-confidence thermometer; bringing her a few degrees closer to maturity and independence. It's never too early to learn some life lessons.
My daughter learned to plan ahead. Does this come naturally? Well, it certainly doesn't in my neck of the woods. But with some coaxing, along with pointing out the consequences of procrastination, this happened. Thoroughly completing a project−putting in the necessary time and effort within the time allotted—means a job well done. Who doesn't love that? What a fantastic skill to begin perfecting.
*Regardless of why your daughter procrastinates, your job will be to make sure that she sees the problem as hers, not yours.
My daughter was able to look deeply into something outside of her everyday curriculum. I hate to admit it, but we're so busy with the essentials: math, Latin, writing, etc., that we usually don't get around to the things we're really interested in. What a shame. This project let her do some exploration outside of her daily box.
*Your aim should be to help your daughter develop her interests and to minimize the number of doors she closes while you wait for her to mature.
My daughter followed the Scientific Method. She tackled this method step by step and walked the same path that all great scientists have walked. (Francis Bacon would be proud.) This proved to be both a stress and a stretch. Learning during the grammar stage was a breeze, however moving into the dialectic stage is forcing her to exert much more effort toward her studies. It's time for her to see that hard work sometimes is just as important as intelligence.
*Indeed, terrific new research of grit shows that the steadfast pursuit of long-term goals contributes to success over and above what can be explained by intelligence alone.
My daughter had to be exacting. Working with variables and gathering data is an exacting business. Precision is not part of my daughter's repertoire. Let's just say that she made a few mistakes, but hey...that's how we learn.
*Girls who learn from small failures are more likely to avoid big ones. We don't like to let our teenagers falter, but stepping in to help with the small stuff and never stepping out keeps girls from growing.
My daughter had to do research and write a paper with a bibliography. It was hard to break this fact to her: growing up = writing research papers. Isn't this just a rite of passage?
*Untangled, separate but completely present, we have a better feel for when we should let our daughters struggle along and when we owe it to them to offer help.
My daughter had to present her finished project to judges. Gasp...she had to answer their questions. Communication skills are a must and a Science Fair is a perfect spot to practice. After all the time and energy involved, sharing her findings was a pretty natural thing to do.
*We can admire our daughters' successes as evidence of their terrific growth (not our goodness), and we can see their trials as proof that they are working to master the developmental strands we now know well.
My daughter will be able to compete in our town's local Middle School Science Fair. She'll have the opportunity to see many other science projects and maybe even get excited about learning something new. I think it's important for her to venture outside the security of our homeschool group and see what's out there in the world.
*Focus on helping your daughter be her best, not the best.
And last but not least...we had fun. She's only going to be with me every day for a little while longer and I'm planning to make the most of every minute.
*Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through The Seven Transitions Into Adulthood by Lisa Damour, Ph.D.