What? Mary has a science project to do? Many struggling students have a terrible time with long term projects. These projects require them to manage their time and energy for the project while continuing with their normal schoolwork. For some children, this is just impossible!
Here are some suggestions for helping Mary (and others like her).
Show her a finished product. Many children think from whole-to-part and they just can’t get started until they understand what it will look like when it’s finished.
Help her to break the project up into manageable tasks. Then help her to set up a calendar with the interim steps. It is best to show her how to start with the date it has to be finished and work backwards from there to see when things need to be completed.
Monitor Mary’s progress along the way. Make sure she is meeting the interim deadlines.
Make sure Mary does the project herself. This is not your project -- it is Mary’s. Don’t be guilty of doing it for her. This says to her that you do not think she is capable. She needs to feel pride in her success or to learn why she is not successful if that is the case. You will not always be there to do her work!
Offer assistance that is appropriate -- like spelling words, taking dictation (with the teacher’s permission) or taking her to the store to get supplies she needs.
Genuinely compliment her on the things she does well. You should be specific with your praise such as, "I like that you chose to use large, boldfaced letters to put on the display board. They will show up well."
With this assistance, Mary should be able to complete her science project on time. Eventually, she will learn how to manage projects for herself.