kidcyber offers information to assist student research, organised under eight topic headings.
Pages are written with middle and upper primary school in mind, although some are written specifically for younger students, such as farm, celebrations, and community.
Most pages include at the top a few simple sentences in large print for younger students, before the body of text written for older grades.
Many students do their research at home, and parents often email us with queries.
We hope the following is of help to parents unsure of how to help, or how much to help!
For Parents: helping with school inquiry/research projects
- Provide a space where your child can work and keep all their project materials, free from distractions.
- It is your child's project! Find out: how much needs to be done to complete the task, how much needs to be done at home, and when the work is due.
- Help your child plan his or her study time so that project work will fit in with all the other activities that they are involved in. Avoid a last minute rush!
- Help gather information:
- Help your child 'brainstorm' ideas about what they want to find out about the topic, and then formulate questions that focus research. Sample generic questions to help them can be found here.
- Help them find online information: enter keyword into search engine (sometimes add for kids to that) and help them find understandable websites, and assess their authority.
A good place to start is www.kidcyber.com.au
- Visit the library together, and help your child locate resources.
- Help them to make phone calls, write letters, send faxes if required as a source of further information.
- Read the text to your child if they are having difficulty and need help. Discuss the text in the context of the question to be answered, and encourage your child to tell you what they think it means, then let them write down what they said.
- Read through your child's first draft, highlight the mistakes in spelling or grammar, and have them make the corrections. Talk about anything that doesn't make sense, or which seems to be inaccurate, and discuss how this might be corrected by the child.
Remember at all times: it is the child's project, not yours!
At kidcyber, we believe the school should give students and parents guidelines as to what it expects in the way of presentation and projects.
Students can be taught and helped from Prep/K year with all the stages of a project, starting with posing research questions, effective searching for resources, making notes, writing drafts and eventually the final presentations. Generally the work can be presented as booklets, charts, written reports, oral presentations etc. However, some teachers/schools encourage and welcome 'out of the box' thinking in the way of more creative presentations such as drama piece, video making, power point or other electronic presentation, models, sculptures or other ideas related to the topic. However, these are time-consuming, and if project deadlines are coming thick and fast, presumably from different teachers/subject areas, then maybe they don't expect anything elaborate.
Projects and your child's school
We have often been asked for a definitive guide on how to do a project. Without knowing your child's school or your child's teachers, it is hard to recommend ideas beyond the traditional, because they may not be acceptable to your school. Ultimately the projects are your child's and he/she should be determining how to present them, choosing a style he/she feels comfortable and confident about (for example, if she isn't confident about drawing skills, a diagrammatic flow chart may not be the way to go). Whatever the presentation, the teacher will also be looking for the actual knowledge gained and learning that has taken place, and to what extent the information found has been interpreted: is it superficial? or does it go below the surface?
Teachers will look to see if the student has explored a variety of resources. (are they all listed in the bibliography?) The final project should demonstrate a sound knowledge of the topic, solid researching of the questions posed, rather than being just a flashy presentation without substance.
Compiling a Bibliography
Make sure your child acknowledges each source of information in a bibliography. Your child's school may have a prefered format, but if not, here's one way to do it.
kidcyber also offers an Ask a kidcyber researcher! service where students can request specific information about a topic . There is a Contact Us link on each kidcyber page
We suggest parents talk to their child's teachers about their expectations in terms of project presentations. Is there a school policy on how projects are to be done? As a parent, it is easy to get anxious (which transmits to the child) so talking to the school is the best first step we can recommend.
We are often asked about pre-schoolers: kidcyber content starts for readers of school age. We tend to feel that for pre- schoolers, play is an essential part of learning, having fun experiences (such as blowing bubbles, making things with home made play dough you make together, cooking and so on) as well as following the child's interests in things around him/her. For example, planting seeds, going to the zoos, to the aquarium or to a museum all stimulate an enquiring mind. Talking about what we have seen and done is an essential part of that learning.
To expand on the bubbles example above, make a bucket of detergent mixture, use a bubble wand first, but then get the kids to experiment with things like a spatula, egg ring, potato masher and so on, or they can make their own wire shapes, and decide which makes the best bubbles. This will get them suggesting hypotheses, testing and evaluating - the scientific method - and it is fun.
It is an enquiring mind and the enjoyment of activity that is the best basis for any learning. Read to them often. Listen to a range of music. But above all, play, and get out and stimulate their minds to the wider world!
When they ask questions, demonstrate the 'let's find out' model so they see that there is are many ways to find answers, and that can be fun.
And, very importantly, keep a balance!
Kids need to get out and be active as well as reading and doing research, and they need the stimulation of new and interesting places to go.