Helping Your Child with School Projects: How Much Should a Parent Do?
At one time or another, most teachers assign elementary school projects for their young students to plan and create outside of the classroom. These projects can range from a simple kindergarten holiday art activity to a more complex sixth-grade history project involving costumes and props. Though elementary school students are ultimately responsible for completing these projects independently, parents can still find ways to offer assistance when needed.
Buying And Organizing Supplies
When assigning a school project, elementary school teachers often include a list of materials that will need to be collected or purchased. Parents should read the list carefully so that they can assist their children with:
- Deciding on the materials that will be used to assemble the project. For example, if given a list of possible science projects and asked to choose one, students can brainstorm with parents on which project will work best and which materials will be needed.
- Gathering supplies found in the home. Parents can help children to collect household supplies (such as markers, tape, or scissors) and place them in the "work area" while the project is underway.
- Shopping for any supplies that aren't currently found in the home. Parents can accompany their children to stores in order to buy additional project materials (such as fabric for a costume).
Students in the upper elementary grades are often assigned school projects that are to be completed over a period of days or weeks. To help keep their children on track to finish the project on time, parents can:
- Create a written daily schedule or work chart. If a student has one week to complete the project, parents can make a chart listing the tasks that must be done each day (ex: Monday--make clay planets, Tuesday--paint the planets, Wednesday--glue planets to poster board, etc.).
- Establish an agreed-upon "work time" each day so that a student will be prepared to set aside time to complete the project.
- Give verbal reminders such as "In ten minutes, it will be time for you to start drawing the timeline for your history project."
Assisting With Complicated Tasks
Sometimes, a project will require steps that are difficult for an elementary school student to complete on his or her own. When this situation occurs, children may need their parents to:
- Read detailed instructions out loud. Younger children may need help in understanding a teacher's written guidelines for a project.
- Assist with adult tasks such as cooking or sewing. Though students should do as much work as possible on their own, sometimes a parent must help for safety reasons.
- Keep the project out of harm's way. If a school project is fragile and can easily be broken during the building process, parents can clear space on a high shelf or similar location so that the child's work stays intact.
Elementary school projects can be enjoyable for both students and parents to work on at home. Whether assembling an elaborate science project for a school fair or designing an art project that fits a classroom theme, young students will appreciate the interest and guidance that their parents offer.