You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Psalm 128:2
Okay, so your child comes home and shows you a packet of papers you must sign, describing the project that’s due in three weeks. First and foremost, understand that the teacher is more than likely using this project for one of two things: It’s either a tool for actually teaching specific strategies or skills (and if that’s the case, more than likely the project will be worked on at school, too); or it’s a culminating project that is meant to reinforce and practice specific strategies or skills. Either way, it’s meant to provide the teacher a snapshot of what the child is learning. This helps teachers decide whether students fully understand the concepts, or if we need to continue to approach the skills from a different angle.
Keeping the teachers’ goals in mind, try the steps below as a way to guide your child through their project:
Step One: Read the packet/description with your child with a highlighter or pen.
Help them understand their “task.” The Big6, an excellent source for teaching research skills, calls this “Task Definition.” Help them articulate in their own words what they think the “task” includes. Helping them understand the expectations is truly the most important way to help them be successful on their own.
Step Two: Discuss and provide any materials they will need to complete their task.
If it’s a creative assignment where they need to generate their own product or can choose between different choices, ask and listen to their ideas. Try not to insert your ideas. Instead, be a sounding board, and be prepared to help gather any materials they may need to execute their own ideas. It’s amazing how creative our children are, and when they are given the chance to explore and embrace their own ideas, they begin to trust themselves more.
Step Three: Review or help create a realistic timeline.
Teachers usually “chunk” major assignments for children by creating a timeline. However, if there is no timeline, take out a calendar and help your child map one out that is realistic. Be sure to take into account any sports or other extracurricular activities. This is especially helpful in teaching our children about goals and time management.
Step Four: Check in and encourage them.
Depending on the length of the project and the age of the child, check in with them every two or three days to see how things are coming along. This opens the door for any questions they may have for you, or it can be a good reminder that they have some work to do.
Step Five: Help them evaluate their task as well as their process. NOTE: Assessing their process is the most powerful step in helping them grow!
It’s amazing how many points are lost on a project simply because a student did not go back and make sure they completed the tasks given. When the final product is done, be sure to ask your child these basic questions (It truly helps them self-evaluate and see how to do better next time.)
Did you do everything that was described in your task? (Have them check off each portion of the assignment)
How well do you think you did? (What grade would you give yourself and why?)
Is there anything you would do differently?
What worked well for you?
What didn’t work for you?
What was your favorite part?
Step Six: Let the chips fall where they may.
Your child may present a masterpiece, or it may be a disaster, but no matter what, it’s theirs, and it’s important they take ownership of it. If they have an A+ project, then they will reap the joys tenfold because their accomplishment. If they have a C or D project, then they will reap the lessons learned in order to do better next time. Isn’t this what learning is all about?
Shared in truth and love by a teacher.