• Long – Term Projects


    Executive Skills Needed: 1. Task Initiation, 2. Sustained attention, 3. Planning, 4. Time management, 5. Metacognition.

    Steps to take:

    1. With your child, look at the description of the assignment to make sure you both understand what is expected. If the assignment allows your child a choice of the topic, topic selection is the first step. Many children have trouble thinking up topics, and if this is the case with your child, you should brainstorm topic ideas. Providing suggestions, starting with topics that are related to your child’s area of interests.
    2. Using the Project Planning Sheet (see below), write down the possible topics. After you have three to five, go back and ask you child what her/she likes and doesn’t like about each choice.
    3. Help your child make a final selection. In addition to thinking about was topic is of greatest interest, other things to think about in making a final selection are:
      1. Choosing a topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow;
      2. How difficult it will be to track down references and resources; and
      3. Whether there is an interesting” twist” to the topic that will either make it fun to work on or appealing.
    4. Using the Project Planning Sheet, decide what materials or resources will be needed, where the child will get them and when (you may want to fill in the last column after completing the next step). Possible resources include: Internet websites, library books, things that may need to be ordered (for example, travel brochures), people that might be interviewed, or places to visit (for example, museums, historical sites, etc.). Also consider any construction or art materials that will be needed for the project.
    5. Using the Project Planning Sheet, list all the steps that will need to be done to carry out the project and then develop a timeline so your child knows when each step will be done. It may be helpful at this point to transfer this information onto a monthly calendar that can be hung on the wall or a bulletin board near your child’s desk to make it easier to keep track of what needs to be done when.
    6. Cue your child to follow the timeline. Before he/she begins each step, you may want to a discussion about what exactly is involved in completing the step—this may mean making a list of things to be done for each step. Planning for the next step could be done as each step is completed, so that your child has some idea what’s coming next and to make it easier to get the next step started.

    Fading Supervision:

    Children who have problems with planning and with the metacognitive skills required to do open-ended tasks often require lots of support for a long time. Using the Project Planning Sheet as a guide, you can gradually hand over the responsibility of having your child complete the sheet on their own. As they become more responsible, sit down with the Project Planning Sheet and have him/her indicate which pieces they think they can do alone and which they may need help with. It is likely that you will continue to need to remind them to complete each step in the timeline.

    Modifications/Adjustments: Use reinforcers as necessary for meeting timeline goals, you can award bonus points for completion without reminders.


    Dawson, P., & Guare, R. (2009). Smart but Scattered. New York: The Guilford  Press. P. 155-156.



    Step 1: Select a Topic:

    What are possible topics?

    What I like about this choice:

    What I don’t like:
















    Final topic choice






    Step 2: Identify Necessary Materials:

    What materials/resources are needed?

    Where will you get them?

    When will you get them?



















    Step 3: Identify Project Tasks and Due Dates:

    What do you need to do? (in order)

    When will you do it?

    Initial when done?

    Step 1:



    Step 2:



    Step 3:



    Step 4:



    Step 5:



    Step 6:



    Step 7:



    Step 8:



    Step 9:



    Step 10:



    Step 11:













    From Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare.  Copyright 2009 by The Guilford Press. P. 157.