The science project ... a paper ... a multi-part project. They can seem overwhelming to your child (or you!), even if the steps are clearly laid out by the teacher. The solution? Break it down into bite-sized pieces and create a timeline.
Once you have determined what the bite-sized pieces are, estimate the time it will take to do each one. Be generous - overestimate the time if you or your child is unsure.
Now, create a timeline. Working backwards, start with the due date and assign the last bite-sized piece of the project closest to the due date. Make sure you leave enough time for last minute things to go wrong. For example, if the last part of the project is to type the paper, assign it to two days before the project is due, even if it can be done in one day. This turns emergencies into non-emergencies: running out of paper or ink, etc.
Continue to work backwards, spacing the work out comfortably and allowing for unexpected events or setbacks. Your older child should be able to do these steps alone or with little supervision as he/she has more practice. Consider rewarding your child at various parts of the project and for finishing ahead of schedule.
Your child should take frequent breaks if working for a long time. Intersperse some fun activities during the breaks - games, a few minutes of a movie, some physical activity to energize the creative juices. Forty-five minutes should be the longest an older child goes without a break, less for a younger child.
We have a new girl in our program and she changed schools when she came. In one class, she is having to read almost 100 pages to catch up to the class. Over the weekend, she and my husband have been taking turns reading the book aloud and discussing the meaning as they go.
Periodically, they take a break and we do something fun. It has turned a large project in her eyes, to a time of interaction, some personal attention, and it's helping her see the value of taking the time to fully understand the material.
By the way, I try to have report folders, poster board and such on hand at all times to prevent late night trips when my procrastinator says at 7 pm, "Oh, I have a project due tomorrow!" Ugh. Not that my high schooler ever did that, but when she did, I could supply her with her needs, go to bed and let her own her procrastination. Can't quite do that with our foster children, but at least I have the supplies!
What are your tips for helping your child manage large homework projects? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)
Getting Organized for School - Organizing Homework
Organizing for School - Papers