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Helping your child to approach longer project work

Secondary school brings with it new challenges, some more fun than others. It brings new sports to try, new friends to make, new languages to learn and all of these can be daunting by exciting. Longer pieces of homework don't tend to be met with quite so much relish. 

In fact longer pieces of homework can be rather overwhelming. Being given several weeks to complete homework doesn't mean your child just has longer to do it, what it means is, more is expected of them, a longer piece of work at greater depth. This is can really faze them and some children will really need your assistance. 

So how you can you help? 

Understanding what is expected is the most useful place to start. You won't have access to your child's teacher in the same way you did at primary school so if there is a lack of clarity around the project your child will need to go back to their teacher and clarify this themselves. It is so important to ensure that they absolutely know what is expected of them. 

Once the actual work has been clearly understood, planning is key. It can be useful to sit with your child as they plan the approach they are going to take and figure out what work needs to be done. Once this plan is in place it can be broken down into bite sized chunks and time estimates given to completing each section. 

Next they need to timetable in slots to do the work this paces the project and ensures it will be done in time. Also, by implementing this process the chunks of work become more like pieces of regular sized homework and your child should feel much less daunted. 

Presentation is an important part of project work too so helping your child explore creative and practical ways to present their presentation can also be really useful. Again as their confidence and experience in these areas grow they will need you less and less. Certainly for the first few projects they are given you may need to encourage them to work through these steps but after a while they should get into the swing of organising long project work themselves. 

Some children will not need as much support with planning and organisation as others but with all children it helps if you show an interest and act as a sounding board and praise their efforts. When your child is really floundering or frustrated you may be tempted to be very directive about their project (or even to do bits for them!) This will not help them at all in the long run but will serve only to undermine their self-confidence. So do sit on your hands, however hard this may be. If your child's work is not at the standard it needs to be school will provide the required feedback, so you don't have to. 

When it come to your child's school work you have to achieve a fine balance between supporting your child and encouraging their independence, being interested in their work and yet letting it remain entirely their own. It is, after all, their learning journey.