Tips for Letting Students Handle Their Projects Wisely and More

Question: How involved should parents be in a school project? — Wondering

Answer: This age-old question will continue to be asked as long as teachers assign projects. There is a fine line between helping too little and too much. Naturally, parental involvement with younger children will be greater than with older children, especially if a project is very complicated. If you are truly uncertain about how much help to provide, ask the teacher.

One role parents always have with any of their children’s projects is to provide encouragement and show interest along the way. Parents also have the responsibilities of funding the project and driving children to buy the needed supplies.

Starting with the first project, parents should teach their children how to develop a timeline for completing each step of a project. This makes it much easier for children to handle future projects on their own.

Keep in mind that the teachers have been working with their students all year and know their ability levels. They know their vocabulary range, so they can quickly spot a book report that mom or dad wrote for a child. They also know what a tepee would look like depending on whether a second-grader or an adult made it. And parents should avoid making fancy computer charts for their children. Projects should not show the helping hand of parents.

Question: I am trying to be involved in my son’s education, so I joined the PTA and have volunteered some at school. Exactly what are the benefits to this involvement? — Joiner Mom

Answer: Joining the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) offers far more than many parents realize. Working with other parents who have a vested interest in their children’s school will give you the chance to discuss your concerns about the school or your son’s education. When issues are discussed in a group, you are able to attract more parents to help address concerns. Furthermore, the school administration is much more likely to listen to a group of parents rather than just one or two. Also, you will be able to join smaller focus groups to work on specific problems you are interested in. Committee work enables you to play a role in making decisions about what goes on at your children’s school.

When you volunteer in any way to help at school — from programming computers to sewing costumes for plays — you are truly helping the school. Plus, when you join a special committee, you will start to see how the school works. And getting to know the teachers in informal situations can only improve your relationship with them when you are dealing with situations affecting your children.

You have the opportunity to meet other parents whenever you attend an event at your child’s school. This can be an advantage in gaining more information about the school and your children’s teachers and classes. Many events — from game nights to rummage sales — give you an additional opportunity to meet informally with the teachers and administration.

Choose the events and volunteer opportunities that are important to your child and interesting to you. This sends the message to your children and the school that you really care about your children’s education.



Question: My little girl is far advanced of the other children in her class. Her teacher is complaining about her daydreaming, humming or just “spacing out” in class. She calls it a “behavioral problem.” We think it is because she is bored and unchallenged. The school doesn’t test for admission to its gifted program until next year. In the meanwhile, how can we handle this? — Daydreamer

Answer: Daydreaming in school can’t be all bad since both Albert Einstein and Robert Frost were daydreamers. So your daughter is in good company. The big question is: How is she doing in school? Is she an academic superstar who aces all her work? If the teacher agrees that the work appears way too easy for your child, can he or she find a way to add more challenge to the curriculum?

Many students are able to listen in class and absorb information even though they appear to be daydreaming. Of course, humming while the other children are working quietly can be distracting. The teacher should be able to help your child focus on her schoolwork by asking questions or talking to her about the work she is doing. Is there any possibility that this is an attention problem? What is your child’s behavior like home? In any case, you don’t want her to get in the habit of not paying attention in class.

Parents have a responsibility to provide their gifted children with challenging activities, from visits to museums to art lessons. If the school curriculum proves to be totally inappropriate for your child, there is always the possibility of home schooling.

Parents can send questions to Dear Teacher, P.O. Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395 or

Categories: Early Education, Education, Sk Education