Your kiddo has a big project to get done, and you want to be supportive without taking over. You’re not alone in this challenge; parents around the globe tremor with anxiety at the thought of helping with a project, not because they don’t want to help their child but because they don’t want to help too much. Train The Brain is happy to offer some ideas of how to help your child without accidentally taking over the process altogether.
Check For Understanding
Your first step is to make sure both you and your child understand what the project is about. This step also gives you the chance to talk with your student and get an idea of how their brain works. While you’re finding out what’s expected of them for the work, you can ask them little questions about what lessons the project is related to or ask them to show you their notes. (Hopefully, they have some! But if not, here are some note-taking tips to share with your student.)
If anything in the assignment is unclear, this gives you the perfect opportunity to help your student learn how to advocate for themselves by helping them send a formal email to their teacher asking for clarification. Once you’re both clear on what the expectations are and how the assignment will be scored, you’re ready to go!
Working together on a project is the perfect opportunity to start teaching your student how to break big tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps. From now until forever, your child is going to have to know how to do this, so take advantage of this chance to help them develop as a more organized, productive person. Get out a calendar, physical or digital, and brainstorm everything that you are going to need for the project and every step you can think of.
Once you’ve gotten the big steps jotted down, break those down further; if you need to cut up paper strips or buy glue, then those are steps that go on the list, too. After you’ve got the steps written down, sort them according to priority. What needs to be done before you can move on to the next step? What can be done without being reliant on the other steps? This skill will follow them for the rest of their lives, so it’s well worth putting in the time to help them learn it while they’re young.
Define Your Roles
As with any group assignment, whether for school or work, teach your child how to define the roles for the job. This way, your student doesn’t expect you to do any more than you’ve already clearly defined and written out together. Sure, they might get behind in their work, but if your role is clearly defined as the “paper cutter-upper,” then that’s what you’re doing. Your goal is to teach your kiddo how to work in a team with team members who also have clearly defined roles, not to rely on people to do their work for them.
Stay In Your Lane
Once your roles are defined, it’s important to stick with them. It’s okay for your child to get behind in the work or forget to do something, but bailing them out isn’t going to help them learn to avoid these natural mistakes in the future. The best thing to do when your child starts to panic is teach them how to deal with these mistakes and how to move forward. Every human being on the planet has to learn at some point that some actions have natural consequences, even if the action (or lack of action) is a mistake.
No, you’re not going to write the essay portion for them. No, you’re not going to email the teacher and say they’re sick when they’re not. No, you’re not going to yell at them for messing up. All you have to do is get a plan in place to help them catch up while you continue as the most emotionally supportive paper-cutter that you can be!
Follow Up On The Learning
Now that the project is complete and submitted to the instructor, it’s time to follow up with your child. Talk to them about the process: defining roles, breaking down the big steps into smaller ones, and any lessons they learned. By processing the steps together after the work is done, your student gets to reflect on what they learned outside of the class content, the essential skills they’ll use far beyond the classroom walls. Your goal is to guide your child toward these lessons so they are more personal and, as a result, more meaningful for them. Your measured involvement will lead them to more organized, more productive, and more stress-free adult lives.
About Train The Brain
Train The Brain is an innovative online homework help and tutoring service that you can access anywhere you have a solid internet connection. You no longer have to leave your home and sit around at a tutoring center. You can set up and attend tutoring or homework help sessions with our highly qualified content area experts in the comfort of your own home, the library, or even in a classroom at your school. If you want to learn more about TTB and the services we offer, feel free to check out our services and our blog. Additionally, you can reach out to our Train The Brain admins online. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.