The contest to create the best visual often prompts many parents to get overly involved in their kids' school projects. But teachers say that by doing so, parents are missing the big picture. The ultimate goal isn't how beautiful the project is; it's the lesson the kids ultimately learn about taking the necessary steps — from research to presentation — to reach the end result.
The Parent's Job
Parents play an important role in that process. One way parents can achieve that goal is by coaching their child through the steps of a project from start to finish. Here's some thoughtful advice on how to help your child do her best:
- Ask questions. Questioning helps your child define the assignment. Is this historical figure's early life important? Does it make him who he became? What are the five most important events in this time period? What was the turning point in the war? Why would you recommend this book? What character made the most powerful impact?
- Get out the calendar. Help your child set goals and create deadlines. For example, by the end of a certain week, complete all your research. Then create a timeline the following week.
- Narrow his focus. Many kids bite off more than they can chew. Suggest that your child spend the first few days absorbing information and reading about his subject before figuring out what the important elements are.
- Designate a workspace. It might be a spot near the computer or a place she can leave out her books or the work in progress. Having a designated space eliminates the need to gather together materials. It also serves as a constant reminder that the work has to get done.
- Help with the tedious work. If typing is frustrating your child, it's okay to do it for him. Just don't work on the project without him.
- After the project's done, discuss the process. Talk about whether you had enough time and what you would do differently in the future.