6 steps for breaking down assignments

By Amanda Morin

Expert reviewed by Ginny Osewalt

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.

Preparing and breaking down an assignment takes a bit of time. But it’ll save both you and your child time during the project since your child will be better able to work independently. These step-by-step tips can help you and your child break down projects into manageable chunks.

1. Figure out how much time your child has.

Count backward from the project’s due date to see how many days your child has to complete it.

2. Figure out how long each work session should be.

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

3. Write down each task.

Work with your child to write down on index cards every task the assignment involves, from going to the library to designing the report cover. For each task, ask if your child has any questions or concerns. Write them down on the back of the card.

4. Put the task cards in order.

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

5. 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.

6. 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.

About the author

About the author

Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

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.