Back to school

School projects

Managing school projects without doing them yourself!

“The project is due tomorrow Mum.”

“Dad, can you please help me with this? I don’t know how to do it.”

Sound familiar? School projects can easily become projects for parents. Children put off their assignments, cry, beg for help, cry some more, refuse to do the project, and often cry even more. And inevitably mums and dads are compelled to come to the rescue. The following six tips can help make school projects positive experiences for your children, without you having to do it at all.


1. Start early

When your child announces that an assignment or project has been given, make a plan immediately. Encourage your child to break the assignment into small chunks that can be completed well in advance of the due date. For example, week one might be about researching and acquiring resources and equipment. Week two might be the planning and drafting stage. And week three might be the final completion stage of the project.


2. Do a little bit each day

Create a routine that ensures that progress is made each day. Follow up gently with your child and encourage goals to be set and reached according to his/her planning schedule.


3. Minimise distractions

The television, games, facebook, chat, and other distractions will not help. Finishing projects is 1% inspiration and 99% staying off the Internet!


4. Help organise resources

Make sure that if your child needs cardboard, equipment, or other resources that you find out with plenty of time and provide it early. This will assist your child to move ahead in a timely fashion.


5. Be available

Children are easily overwhelmed when they face a big project (and most projects are big for children). They will want help. Be there for your child, but don’t do the work. Instead, ask how you can help. Ask what their plans are. Show interest, express appreciation for their effort, and comment on their progress. Just being there and being supportive will make a difference for your child. But DON’T do the work.


6. Be willing to walk away

Sometimes children will demand we help them, complete their projects and do everything for them. At this point it is important to reassure them of our confidence in them, encourage them, and let them know we’re available. Then we can let them know we’ll leave them to it. At some point our child will recognise that, if we have provided them with what they need, they really can achieve this.


7. Ask for help if you don’t understand

Sometimes a quick chat with a teacher about a project will help you know exactly what is required. Teachers can easily resolve misunderstandings that stressed out children may accidentally provide you, and make the project much easier to manage.

When we become too involved we teach our children that we will always rescue them. We undermine their creativity and their confidence in themselves and their ability to do the work assigned. When we do the work for our children they WILL get better grades, but we actually disable them, rather than enable them. When our children look at the completed project knowing they’ve done it themselves, they feel competent