9 steps for breaking down assignments

ByAmanda Morin

When kids have a big project or assignment, it can be hard for them to figure out how to get started and come up with a plan to see it through. That’s especially true if they have trouble with organization or time management. These step-by-step tips can help your child break down projects into manageable chunks.

1. Figure out how much time your child has.

Count backward from the project’s deadline to see how long your child has to complete it.

2. Decide how long your child should work at each sitting.

Estimate how much stamina your child will have for the kinds of work involved.

3. Calculate what your child needs to do each day.

Compare how much time is available with how long your child can work at a stretch. This helps you figure out how to help your child “chunk” the work, or do a bit each day.

4. Make a list of the materials needed.

Help your child gather them in advance. This way, your child won’t have to stop working to search for supplies.

5. Write down each task.

Work with your child to write down on note cards every task the assignment involves, from going to the library to designing the report cover.

6. Put the task cards in order.

Help your child decide what comes first, second, etc. For instance, doing research comes before proofreading the paper.

7. Note questions.

For each task, ask if your child has any questions or concerns. Write them down on the back of the card.

8. Assign a deadline for each task.

Work backward to come up with reasonable due dates. Address your child’s questions as you create the schedule.

9. Review your child’s progress.

Check in regularly to see how your child is doing and if the project is on schedule. If not, help your child revise the plan.

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About the author

About the author

Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ginny Osewalt is a dually certified elementary and special education teacher with more than 15 years of experience in general education, inclusion, resource room, and self-contained settings.