The Dreaded School Project!

Projects… that word invokes fear in the minds of parents. It can be as simple as a drawing of The Boston Tea Party or it could be the dread SCIENCE FAIR PROJECT. Ahhhhhh! The drawing “project” is more of an assignment and most parents are cool as a cucumber with that scenario, so let’s see if we can make you sweat a bit.

Your child brings home a project rubric and throws it on the table without saying a word. With just a glance you realize this project is a biggun. Really, really big. We are talking 45% of their grade big. The deadline is far away and your child could care less, because those kids don’t understand TIME!!!! HELP!!!! (sweating now?)

Tips to conquer the sweats!

Remember in a previous post we talked about using schedules and calendars to foster independence? Have your child mark on the calendar – in big letters, in red letters, in some major way – when the final project is due. This big visual on the calendar will help keep the goal of completing the project on time in sight. Talk with your child about the steps that need to be completed by the final due date. Do they need to brainstorm ideas? How much research is needed? Can it be done at home or out in the field? Is the project “hands-on”, like a science project or art project; or is it mainly a paper? Are there items that need to be turned in to the teacher prior to the final draft? Talking through all these steps can get your child thinking about what needs to be done before the actual due date and how those steps can be accomplished.

Let’s say in four weeks your child is expected to turn in a report about Martin Luther King Jr and his impact on the Civil Rights movement. What’s the first step? Brainstorm about how they will get the information. Mostly research based. Maybe they need a week to look up books at the library and articles on the internet. Have them mark on the calendar when they plan to be done with their research. If you’re really into organization, you guys could talk about how much time each day they are planning to spend researching.

Step two,

organizing the information they gathered while researching. Finding a way to organize ideas can be difficult. Everyone thinks differently; the way you organize thoughts probably differs from your child’s. This is more of a guidance step for you and the creative process for your child. You can help them by suggesting different ways to organize. Maybe an outline would be helpful? Or are they more visual and a graphic organizer would be better? (Google graphic organizer if you need some ideas; there are tons out there!) Maybe they make piles of notes and each pile is a talking point (that’s how I used to do it). Once an organization method has been determined, talk about how long they think this step will take. Mark a completion date the calendar.

Draft copy time!

Have your child decide how long the draft copy will take, and how long they’ll need to work on revising and editing, with keeping the final copy due date in mind. This is a good time to revisit if a draft needs to be turned into the teacher prior to completion as well. During this step, they will put those organized ideas into a constructive piece of writing. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Your child has built time into their project schedule to go back and revise and edit; make changes in language, order, and thought.

Last step!

After some edits they are ready to write their final version Talk with them about how long they want to spend with their final copy. Does the final copy need to be typed, handwritten, etc.? If your child has a rubric for project expectations, this information should be included there.


That was just one scenario, but you get the idea. Break down the big into the small and have your child be not only part of the process, but be the decision maker. Having them be in charge of their timelines helps them be able to inference what the next assignment will need as far as timelines go. With your guidance, your child has an idea of what they need to do and how it needs to be accomplished. Remind them that they should feel like they’ve already accomplished something just by putting it on the calendar. YAY!

TL;DNR – The main takeaway is get that due date on the calendar and baby-step until the end. No procrastination, hopefully. 🙂

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