These simple school project tips will help you avoid that last-minute “I have a HUGE project due tomorrow” panic and help your child get the best grade he or she can achieve!
I’ve been a classic procrastinator for most of my life. Getting things done at the last minute just works for me. In fact, I’d say I thrive under the pressure… Mega work project due tomorrow? No problem — I’ll just power through.
However, as I’ve gotten older (and wiser), I’ve discovered the merits of planning and dividing larger tasks into smaller milestones. Instead of a marathon cleaning session for an upcoming gathering, I’ll break it up into smaller mini sessions. Instead of a one-day whirlwind meal prep dash, I often opt for a half hour spent on prepping one recipe per day.
Of course, this mind shift didn’t come easily. Having five kids in the span of less than six years kind of forces one to adapt. You know? I recall being so physically exhausted in those early days, thinking how much easier things would be when they were older. But you know what? They’re older now — and I’m still exhausted. Only now it’s more of a mental exhaustion, rather than physical. And so I continue to adapt…
Perhaps, even more than the exhaustion, this change has been triggered by the habits I see my kids developing. The first time one of them came to me (at 10:30pm on a Sunday evening) in a monumental super-duper half-my-grade-for-this-quarter project due the next day state of panic, I laughed it off — and we powered through. I’m pretty sure all five of my kids have had one of these moments at some point, and I tried to give them grace in each instance.
But after it happened three separate times shortly before winter break, I knew we needed to crack down.
Creating a School Project Box
The first thing I did was head to Target to stockpile some school project supplies. Running to the store late at night for tri-fold board or rubber cement grew old really fast, so I figured keeping some school project staples on hand would go a long way toward maintaining my sanity. We already keep a “homework box” handy, so a “school project box” seemed like a natural solution.
Some of the items I picked up include:
- Sharpie Original Permanent Markers
- Elmer’s Board Mate Colossal Marker
- Elmer’s Board Mate Reusable Stencils
- Elmer’s Board Mate Dual Tip Glue Pen
- Elmer’s Giant Glue Sticks
- Elmer’s Rubber Cement
- Elmer’s Guide-Line Tri-Fold Foam Display Board
- Elmer’s Dry Erase Foam Boards
I also grabbed a stack of plain white poster boards and some colored construction paper. Pencils, erasers, rulers, and scissors area already stocked in our homework box, so between the two, we should have all of the basics to get us started on any school project and to (hopefully) complete any last minute project that pops up.
5 Simple School Project Tips
After my shopping trip, I scheduled a short family meeting to go over our new expectations for future school projects. There was definitely some resistance and dragging of feet, but I think we’re all on the same page now.
1. Notify me the day you are assigned a new project.
This is obviously the most crucial step and the one that will take the most nagging, I suspect. Until my kids get in the habit of proactively letting me know as soon as they have a project assigned, I will ask them a couple of times a week if there’s anything coming up that they need to let me know about. If something is assigned, I’ll add the due date to our family calendar, and they will immediately sit down to complete the second step.
2. Read through the criteria and develop a timeline.
Too many times my kids have chosen a book for a book report that didn’t align with the assignment or created a project that just skated the perimeter of what the teacher was asking. Like the time my son created a mini working foosball table out of a shoebox as part of a book project — which was totally awesome, by the way. However, the teacher asked for a board game… If I had read through the assignment, I could have led him in another direction earlier on. #mybad
So it’s safe to say that this is also a good time for parents to review the criteria. At this point, I’m also asking that my kids make a list of any additional supplies they need, giving me plenty of time to pick them up at my leisure.
Developing a timeline should be pretty straightforward. My older kids should be able to tackle this on their own, but the younger ones will need some assistance. My goal is to help them all develop this skill so that eventually I can just look over their timelines and offer suggestions or adjustments based on their sports schedule and other obligations.
3. Research and create a draft, outline, and/or sketch.
This will always look a little different depending on the project but should be easy to complete in chunks based on their timeline. For example, I would encourage my kids to create an outline and draft for a book report. For a science project that requires visual aids, I’d suggest that they sketch out what their tri-fold to look like before diving into the lettering, gluing, etc.
4. Ask mom or dad to review your draft.
I have absolutely no intention of doings my kids’ school projects for them — and I won’t. But just as I’m happy to review their homework to have them correct errors, I’m also happy to review the rough drafts or sketches for their projects before they finalize them. This is more for my elementary school-aged children, but even my high school-aged son still asks me to read through his English papers before he submits them. My middle schoolers waffle back and forth, but they all know that they can ask for help if they need it.
5. Create your final paper, poster, chart, etc.
Now is when all those supplies I bought come in handy! Everything my kids need to finalize their school projects should be available to them. I try not to get too involved at this point, but I’ll let them know that I’m available if they need any suggestions or tips and gently remind them that neatness counts…
Because it totally does! A neat and well-organized project is always going to score higher marks, which is why I love Elmer’s Guideline products. Faint lines on the Elmer’s foam and corrugated display boards make it easy to lay out a project evenly and neatly, giving my kids the confidence to complete a project all on their own. Before I discovered these boards, my kids often asked for assistance with lettering and placement. Now I can step away and nudge them to do it all on their own!
Save Money On Your Own School Project Box
Even if you choose to ignore these school project tips and just wing it, I can’t recommend creating your own school project box enough. It’s already proven to be a lifesaver — or at the very least a sanity saver! Stock up on Elmer’s® Board Mate boards and accessories at Target and save with this excellent 10% off Cartwheel coupon right now.
This post is in partnership with Elmer’s® and Sharpie brands®. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this site possible!