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How to Survive Your Tween’s School Projects

by Tania Cowling | December 12th, 2013 | School, Tweens

science fair usaSchool projects can be overwhelming to students and even parents. Teachers are looking for creative ideas, but don’t always present necessary instructions. Then tweens may want to present a huge project of their dreams and not have a clue how to begin. This is where parents come into play.

As a mother of three, I’ve supervised many projects over the years — from science experiments to social studies presentations and more. We (and I use this word because middle school tweens can’t always do these projects alone) have made volcanoes, battlefields, and replicas of famous buildings, just to name a few. I survived to tell you this tale by using these tips:

Read the Assignment and Set Up Your Goals

Go over the assignment sheet and make sure your tween understands what’s expected. Do they understand the concepts and elements that need to be included?
Give them time to ask the teacher before you step in. Then, begin to brainstorm ideas — even though your tween has the topic, does he know how to execute it? Is it just a free-form display or will there be a paper as well? Make a checklist of all steps needed to complete this project by the due date and then make lists. Your tween may need a list of the research he needs to do at the library, a list of materials he needs to collect or buy, and a list for time management.

Hurry to the Library

If the teacher gives out a general topic, all the students will be doing the same project at the same time. If you don’t get to the library pronto, all the materials will already be checked out. Yes, there’s always the Internet, but sometimes print books will have materials that are necessary to include in your sources. If you miss out on the library, you may find that buying books puts a dent into your pocketbook.

And On to the Craft Store

Do you need a tri-fold project board? Or can you just use a cardboard box? How about paints and markers? What about Styrofoam or plastic figurines? And don’t forget to collect some nature finds that may suit the project. The most important thing to remember is that this project is your tween’s — not yours. So, let him make the decisions on design, paint colors, and materials needed. Just do the shopping early!

Plan a Little Time Each Day

It’s impossible to complete a major project in one day; you’ll need drying time for paints and glue. And doing a little bit each day keeps the frustration level down for both the tween and the parent. Just make sure to plan ahead and allot time daily or whatever fits your calendar. Tweens are super busy kids with sports, dance, or other extracurricular activities, so start soon and work toward a deadline.

The Bottom Line…

Make sure your child does the work — you can offer guidance if needed. Check over any printed work for typos before it’s glued down on the boards. Take photos of the finished product for future memories. And by all means, praise your child for all his efforts!

(U.S. Army photo)

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