How to Teach Kids to Plan a Project

In the younger grades, teachers often give children plenty of support when it comes to long-term projects. They may break the project into small steps, give plenty of spread-out deadlines, and keep on top of students to complete each step. When children first encounter a long-term task with no given structure, they may not know where to begin. Planning is an executive skill all children need to learn in order to succeed -- in school, in the workplace and in life.

Talk with the kids about their final goal -- what the project should look like at the end. They may wish to draw a picture or write a few sentences to describe this goal 1.

Brainstorm various steps the kids will have to take in order to reach this goal 1. For a book report, these steps might include choosing a book, reading the book, thinking of a topic to write about, writing the report, revising the report and creating the report cover.

Encourage kids to write each of these steps on small sticky notes and post them on the calendar in order, leaving enough time for them to complete each step.

Discuss with kids what obstacles might come up, and how they will overcome those obstacles. Make sure they have enough time built in to their schedule to deal with these obstacles. For example, what if their parent is not able to drive them to the library to choose a book on the day that they selected?

Meet with the kids as they are completing the project, and discuss how they are progressing. Do they feel they left themselves enough time for each step, and that they accounted for all possible obstacles 1?

When they have completed the project, ask the kids to think about what part of the planning process worked best for them, as well as what they learned from the process for next time.


It can help for some kids to sketch out what the project will look like when it is completed, so they can visualize their goal.

Some kids have a difficult time remembering to carry out each step of the project, even once they've planned it out. You can help children like this by brainstorming ways to remind themselves, such as setting a cell phone alarm, writing it on their homework calendar or putting a sticky note in a strategic location.

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