10 Tips For Completing School Projects

Why do teachers send home big projects for kids to do, like missions and solar systems? These really aren’t projects for the kids…it’s just more homework for parents! Well, my son had to do a mission, and after lots of glue, paint, small plants, dirt, and scraps of construction paper all over the place, I think we did a fairly decent job…

A few tips I recommend:

  1. I DO NOT recommend buying the ‘mission’ kit…they really suck! Some of the solar system kits are alright, but you have to take out Pluto because, unlike how we were taught in school, it is no longer a planet?!?!
  2. Before beginning a mission project, make sure you know which mission it is and you can even look up pictures of what it looks like online! Isn’t it amazing what technology allows us to do these days?
  3. I do recommend just getting some cardboard, construction paper, and paint to build it from scratch.
  4. Make sure you have PLENTY of extra supplies on hand…just in case you measure incorrectly, drop an important piece into the paint (the wrong color at that!), or glue the wrong pieces together.
  5. Learn how to make it look like your school-age child cut, drew, painted, and glued the project by themselves (this isn’t too hard to do…for most people, including me!).
  6. If the project looks ‘too good’ then your child will likely not get full credit because the teacher won’t believe that your child did the project (personal experience).
  7. Cut and paint all of the pieces PRIOR to gluing everything together (it’s not easy to paint and add pieces AFTER gluing them to the base).
  8. Give your child big and small pieces to do, not only so they feel like they helped, but so they can say that they did the project (it’s never good to ask your child to lie to their teacher…).
  9. Solicit ideas from all of your children. The fountain in this picture has pipe cleaners painted blue sticking out for the water spitting…this was my daughter’s idea. As parents, our imaginations have diminished significantly (at least most of us).
  10. Start the project as soon as your child tells you about it. This way, if something goes horribly awry during the process, you have time to start the project again…and again…and again….

My son and I had a fantastic bonding experience during this project…I’m worn out now!

What is a school project you have completed with your child? How did it go?

(You can click on the picture to see more of the mission)

San Diego de Alcala Mission

8 comments

  1. This finished project is amazing! I agree that projects sent home should not be overwhelming…what was the point of the project? What is the criteria for the grading? I am a teacher, and I don't think it is fair to expect this to be finished at home, but I also know where the STRESS level is coming from at the District level of homework, homework, homework….and test scores, test scores, test scores.

    Anyway…you should be very proud of the work accomplished. The "grade" by the teacher is not what is important, the bonding and the final project. This is FABALOUS!

    1. Thank you for your comment. Yes, this was a great bonding experience for my son and I. As for the grading criteria, I’m really not sure. I’ve never seen a sheet outlining what should / should not be included or how they will be graded. Usually, they come home and tell me “I have to do a mission,” when it is due, and if they can or cannot use a model from the store. After doing four of them already I just delve into the project with them and we do our best. I honestly can’t see how doing this type of a project would enhance or harm their test scores, but I do understand the pressures teachers are under to give as much homework as possible to their students (especially in GATE classes). Projects like these are not allowed to be worked on in class…they have to be started, worked on, and completed outside of the classroom. Some projects, such as State Reports, can be worked on in class, but they have to be typed (now), printed (with lots of colorful pictures), and put together at home. The schools in CA are requiring more and more papers and reports to be printed. In addition, more and more homework is required to be done online. For example, my children all have math homework that must be completed online through a special website now. I am still trying to work through the scheduling aspect of this with five children and one computer for them to use. The advice from teachers is this: ‘there is a public library down the street. You can use that resource.’ Hhhhmmm…with schedules the way they are these days, sitting at a public library to complete homework with all of my underage children just is not possible. I understand that the requirements are changing, but I don’t think the school district is really thinking through how these children can complete this work, especially in homes where the families cannot afford computers and / or internet service (other than they can no longer afford to furnish every student with textbooks any longer). Any thoughts?

  2. no se si hablen espanol mi hija tiene este mismo proyecto mision de alcala y a sido un poco dificil lla que considero que estos proyectos son demaciado par alos niños creo que seria bueno les dejaran tareas de investigacion lla que su escritura se perfeccionaria y ala vez aprenderian mas gracias

    ulises p.

    1. I don’t speak Spanish, but I know a few people who do, so I was able to translate your message :-). I agree with you that our children should be spending their time on more productive things, such as investigative research, writing, and other tasks to enhance their skills. I usually end up having to help my children with these types of projects because they are just too young to do projects like these at the high quality level that the teachers expect of them. It is difficult and it really creates more work for the parents. Thank you for your comment!

  3. I couldnt understand but i translated it to english and yes parents and children has to have more BONDING TIME not just look at the computer screen all day.

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