Projects are added to children’s course work in order to develop their faculties other than what would result from just learning lessons and writing exams. Here are some ways to make it a fulfilling activity for everyone.
Our first task as a parent is to take it in stride and not complain about it. A lot of parents often go into a crib mode. Reactions range from, ‘we didn’t have to do such stuff in our time’ to ‘why are they wasting our time’. If parents have a negative disposition towards the project, the kids are sure to imbibe it. Instead parents could treat it as an opportunity to spend quality time and do fun things together.
What the level of involvement of the parent should be depends on the age of the child and the nature of the project. With a very young child the process could involve going through old magazines looking for a certain kind of picture, cutting and pasting, visiting certain places etc. It can become a funfilled activity, giving parents opportunity and ideas to spend quality time with the kids. With an older kid, the level of involvement might be just forwarding a certain link of info you came across in the course of your work, knowing that it is likely to help the child, and also lets the kid know that he/she is on your mind. Besides you have accorded his task a high enough priority to make him look at it seriously.
Project work helps build up children’s analytical and research skills. It can become their training ground for learning team work, time management, presentation & communication skills and all those traits that are necessary to succeed in life and work.
Where and how to begin is usually one of the first decisions parents need to tackle. Those parents who teach children themselves are unlikely to find themselves at a loss, since project work is invariably connected to the curriculum. However, parents who are not hands on with their children’s studies, either due to tuitions or some other factors, often find themselves at a loss when confronted with project work pressures.
Emphasis should always be on that aspect which will add value to the child’s understanding of the subject. There’s no point in doing a complicated science project where the basic mechanisms and principles used are beyond the child’s grasp and understanding. Sometimes a project work can help in multiple subjects. A light board like ‘match the capital cities with the countries’, can help a child learn geography and also see the principle of +ve and –ve connections in a battery at work.
The greatest dilemma that parents face is the extent of contribution that they should make. Is doing the projects for the kids as bad as writing their exams for them…or atleast like doing their homework?
All parents encounter the urge to do or to add finishing touches to their children’s projects. If the task was meant for the parents, it would be called parentwork, not project work. The approach needs to be the same as that adopted in helping them with homework and preparing with exams. An enabling approach that helps them learn more and perform better. Sometimes, projects given are not about grades, but for display and exhibition at school. Even teachers would appreciate if the parents helped out. But then the subject should be discussed, and credit duly shared. Do not be dismissive about, huh who needs credit from one’s own children. Sharing credit is an essential aspect of teamwork. Children will emulate what they see.
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