Getting started on a big homework project or research report can be overwhelming for kids, especially as long-term projects require a lot of time and dedication. As parents, it’s important to provide guidance and advice on how to plan for these projects and help your children see them through to the end. These step-by-step tips can help students break down big tasks into manageable chunks and make something huge seem achievable. We guarantee they will get great grades with this action plan too!
Step 1- Understand the Assignment
It’s important that your children start by understanding their new assignment in full. Make sure they write down exactly what needs working on in their planner, whether it’s a specific question, project task or a research paper on a topic of their choice. Remind them to ask questions about anything they’re not sure about, as well as exactly what’s expected, including the deadline date, word count, topics the work needs to include. It's much easier to ask the teacher during or after class than to struggle to remember later on.
Step 2- Ask Even More Questions
Once the project has been assigned, start asking even more questions. Ask your child which area of the subject interests them the most and what they want the end result to look like. Often large projects are open to interpretation, so doing this will help your child understand the assignment and narrow down the area they want to concentrate on. Once they have chosen a focus, asking questions that encourage creativity and individuality is key, especially if they want the project to be unique. What’s your favourite thing about this time period? What is the key point you are making? Who is your favourite character? Is there a fact that really stands out? Encourage your child to write down their answers as this is how they will start their project. It also means they have something to refer back to later down the line if they need inspiration.
Step 3- Break the Project Down
Whatever the project, it’s important to break it down into several steps. This means your child will make much more efficient progress and not feel overwhelmed. Work with them to write down every task the assignment involves, from going to the library to writing the assignment. Help them to then prioritise what’s most important and what tasks can wait until later on. Once you have done this together, start to schedule in time to complete each part. This will make sure the project is handed in on time and make a big task seem more manageable.
Step 4- Get on Top of Time Management
Time management is going to be key for your child if they’re undertaking a big homework project. We recommend using a calendar to map out some realistic goals with them depending on the time they have. If there’s 6 weeks to complete a project, create some mini deadlines and set specific tasks from step 3 that need to be completed by the end of each week. For example, by the end of week one, all research for the assignment should be completed.
Step 5- Set an Unofficial Deadline
All big projects should have two deadlines: the official one and an ‘unofficial’ one. We advise setting the unofficial deadline for a big homework project around a week before the real one. This way your child isn’t getting stressed working right up until the last minute, however, if something goes wrong there’s plenty of time to rectify any issues.
Step 6- Tackle the Hardest Part First
It’s tempting for your kids to start with the easy stuff and leave the harder tasks until the last minute. However, it’s a much better approach for them to tackle the hardest part first, as they’ll have much more energy and focus closer to the beginning of the project.
Step 7- Persist One Task at a Time
As the project work gets underway, it can be hard to keep up momentum with a strict homework schedule. It’s important for your child to persist gradually by working on one task at a time, rather than trying to complete lots of things all in one homework session. This will mean they’re giving their full attention to that part of the project, meaning it’s completed to the best of their ability. It’s often thought that multitasking is beneficial, however, if your kids are trying to assemble their project, write their presentation, and research at the same time, it’s going to be stressful and not their best work.
Step 8- Don’t Let Procrastination Win
One of the main reasons essays and projects get handed in late is because students tend to procrastinate. Once your child starts procrastinating regularly instead of studying, it can become a habit, making it harder and harder for them to focus on what they need to. Read our helpful blog post for 10 practical strategies on how to overcome procrastination while studying.
Step 9- Review Progress Weekly
As parents you can’t complete the work for your children, so you do have to trust they’re getting on with the project schedule you mapped out at the beginning. To make sure they’re staying on track, check in weekly to see how they’re getting on with their project and if they’re on track. Ask them what they have achieved during the week and what they are working on. This gives you a great opportunity to help revise the plan if they’re behind schedule or need more time to work on a certain area.
For our top studying tips backed by science, our informative blog post will be sure to help.