“Mom, my project’s due tomorrow!”
Don’t get caught at midnight researching the mating habits of the kangaroo. Teach your child proper project planning.
Your job as a parent is to teach your child how to take something as big and overwhelming as a project, speech or assignment and to break it down into smaller, manageable pieces. Time spent teaching your child this method will pay off for the rest of their school years.

Using an example of a project on a wild animal, here is how you would do this:

Tell your child to think about all the animals that they know, and to choose the one that interests them the most. If they say that they already know which one they want to do the project on, ask what it is and then tell them that their work for the day is over. They may now go and play. They have finished the first step of the project, which is deciding on the topic. The topic for this project is going to be elephants.

The next step is for your child to start gathering as much information on elephants as possible. They can start by looking for books and magazines that you have at home, or they could go to the school library at break or quickly after school. You could also schedule a day to go to the public library.
If you have the internet at home, one evening can be scheduled to spend a little time obtaining information. Note that during this step you have just told your child to look for information. They do not have to read it or do anything else with it. All they are doing is gathering their resources for the project. This step may take more than a day or two, and includes buying any stationery that will be needed for the project.

It is useful to decide on how the project will be presented before actually starting it, because then you will know how to plan the project.
•     If the project is going to be presented in book format, then one section needs to be completed first, including pictures, before starting the next.
•    If the project is going to be presented on cardboard, all the sections have to be completed before any can be stuck on the cardboard.


This project on elephants has four different sections: What elephants eat, where they live, how they protect themselves, and a labelled picture. It is useful to help your child to sift through all the information that they have found in order to decide what is relevant to these four topics. On the next day, your child must choose the section that they would like to start with, and they then read through the information and write down key words. Each day your child could do a different section. The key words are then kept safely in the plastic envelopes, along with any pictures your child finds for the different sections.

Using the key words, your child can write up a rough draft or a paragraph on each section. Because you are not in a rush, there is time for editing, correcting and rewriting neatly. Depending on how much time is available and how much information they have, your child could write one or two sections neatly a day.

This is the fun part your child has been waiting for – because all the hard work is over and it’s time to lay out, decorate and illustrate the project.

If you work at this project one step at a time and a little bit each day, it should be finished on time. You will feel good because you will get to sleep the night before it is due, instead of staying up late to work.
You will also feel proud – and possibly a bit weepy – because you will know how hard your child has worked, what effort it took on his or her part and how much he or she has learned, not only about elephants and what they eat, but how to eat elephants one bite at a time!

This is an extract fromThe manual that never came with your child (Struik), available from Kalahari.net at R159.95.

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