Saturday, January 22, 2011

The anti-Tiger Mom

The Little Guy announced the other day that he's not doing the Science Fair this year. After I landed from my 9 feet high "Hallelujah" jump in the air, I asked him why. Apparently he wants to enjoy walking round all the other kids' exhibits instead of being stuck at his booth explaining something to parents who aren't really interested.  Good reason in my opinion.

For those not in the US, the Science Fair happens in every school in every state in America in the Spring (for the most part). It's where parents students choose a scientific topic to research and then either explain or demonstrate to their classmates, teachers and in many cases, visiting parents. You can literally choose anything, and points are given for visual presentation as well as knowledge of your subject. Our science fair is purely voluntary so no points are given for anything; it can still get pretty competitive though. With the parents, at least.

In my time as a lower/primary school parent (which is now into its second decade FYI) our family has "done" - how a violin works, what makes a rainbow (with demonstrations on water), made a table of who has what types of finger print (Swirls, hoops and something else), a complete run down on the human body (very high level of course), and last year, amphibians. I can recognise a Poison Dart Frog from a thousand feet.

In some schools, the science fair is mandatory and part of the curriculum. Academic careers can be ruined by a volcano that doesn't errupt or home made bubble mixture that doesn't perform on the day. As you can imagine it's big business here, with hundreds of web sites on the subject giving project ideas, templates and step-by-step instructions.

There are even web sites for parents, and despite the piece of advice below, many adults get far too involved in their kids' projects in my opinion:

How to Help as a Parent

It is up to the student to decide what to study. You can help by motivating your child and listening to his or her ideas. However, it is crucial to remember that it is up to your child to design and execute the entire project. Oh please. As if. Judges at a science fair take particular care to note that the work is the student’s and that the student understands the topic, the research, the experiments, the analysis of data, and the conclusion. The judges expect that the student has received some help from another person, such as a parent or teacher, and that such help will be credited in the display.

So I have to say I'm quite pleased to be off the hook able to see the other kids' exhibits this year.Definitely the anti-Tiger Mom. And proud of it!


  1. I hear you...I've just written an anti homework post. It's homework for the parents, not the children!

  2. What a bold move for a little kid! And I like your attitude about it too.

    I think it can be demoralizing for a child to enter a project that they did all their own work on and be surrounded by all these super-kid and/or parent-driven projects.

    We've seen 3rd & 4th graders who've built robots or who've made polished videos---WTH?

  3. haha! That is funny... My OH ('s father) used to win his every year!

    I am also not the tiger mummy type - have written about that this week

  4. Bloody hell...thank God we don't have science fairs in nerves couldn't take it...

  5. I can see why you'd be glad to be off the hook. The stress!

  6. Well done to the son and to you - my sister (3 years older than me ) did the Science Fair thing at least once.

    I avoided all that crap by "doing" music. Mind you, my clarinet and subsequent saxophone practicing provided "interesting times" for my dear Folks (the sister moved away as soon as she could!)

    Do enjoy this time, along with your lad,

    Michelle and Zebby Cat down in NZ, xxx and purrrrumbles

  7. Oh, everything suddenly falls into place!!!

    I never understood why in every other American movie/tv series, you'd see a parent slaving over a miniature volcano in their garage while their child looks on.

    Now I know... although I'm slightly terrified about having kids in the States now! :o

    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, I really appreciate it!

  8. You see, this is why the thought of moving to the US terrifies the hell out of me. A. I am a competitive mother. B. I know sod all about science. I'm feeling stressed already and I'm not even there.

  9. We are not there yet (thank goodness) with the boys. But if it comes to it, I will force my husband to take charge. Because I, too, know sod all about science and he actually works in a scientific lab......

  10. Definitely need to work on the Brits-coming-to-America book don't I?

  11. sounds ghastly- hope that tradition never gets over here. Oh God- competitive pushy parents. Shoot em

  12. Our science fair is mandatory. And this year both boys have to do it! One has to do an experiment, the other an invention. Oh, and we're flying to Australia a couple of hours after the night of the big display so no stress there then!

  13. Another thing I can easily live without. Rule, Britannia! :)

  14. Oh no - as a newly expat mum whose child has just started at an American school I undoubtedly have this now to dread. Oh dear. Great blog - thrilled to have found you!


The more the merrier....

Blog Archive