The start of a new school year offers a fresh opportunity. While everything still feels new and exciting, why not take advantage to help your children set school year goals?
By setting goals, you can teach your child many important life lessons. From your first grader to your high schooler, these goals can also serve as motivation in your child’s academic life. However, to truly help your child, you should make sure the goals you set meet certain guidelines. The purpose of the goals should be to help your child maintain a positive outlook on the school year and acquire good habits, not to disappoint them should they fail. You can make sure that you are able to do this by setting up goals the right way.
So, what do you need to know about setting beginning of the school year goals?
Make It Official
Call your child to an individual, private meeting. This isn’t something you’ll want to do with all of your kids at once. Instead, take some time to meet separately with each of your school-aged children so that you can focus on each one exclusively. You can make it an exciting, fun meeting by doing it over ice cream, on a special walk in the park, in the backyard with a popsicle or in another special place.
While keeping things light-hearted, explain that you want some special time to talk about your child’s goals for the school year. If your child is young, you may need to explain what a goal is. You can use your own goals as examples. You may say that every Saturday you have a goal of cleaning the bathrooms or that every day you try to make time to walk for 30 minutes. Keep your examples simple and concrete. Then, share that you’d like to work with your child to create goals for them to try to achieve at school or surrounding their school work.
Naturally, your first grader won’t have the same goals as your eighth grader. How can you make sure you set age appropriate goals?
First, keep the number of goals appropriate. In your child’s first experience of setting goals, you’ll want to start with 3 or fewer. This will help keep your child from becoming overwhelmed. You can always add more goals later as your child becomes accustomed to the process.
While you may need to suggest goal ideas for your child so that they get the sense and idea of how it works, it’s best if your child picks the goal or goals they set. This will help make sure that your child understands the goal well.
You’ll need to provide some guidance over your child’s goals to ensure they’re achievable and that you can track them. This will make the process of following up on the goals much easier. As a result, you may need to make slight modifications to your child’s ideas. In the following section, you’ll learn what kinds of modifications you may need to make.
Choose Goals Your Child Has Control Over
Similarly to the last point of making age-appropriate goals, you should also make sure that your child has control over the goals they make. For example, your fifth grader says they want to get all “A’s” on their report card. However, in reality, your child doesn’t have control over the teacher’s grading system, making this goal a bit hard to control. However, you can help your child break down what getting good grades involves. In this way, you can suggest goals that will help them on their path to achieving this result such as turning in all homework assignments. Your child certainly has control over whether or not they turn in all assignments or not.
Other goals that your child would have control over include:
- Spending a certain amount of time on school work/studying/homework or reading daily
- Saying a positive mantra every morning before school
- Asking the teacher for help when necessary
- Keeping school work organized in separate folders for each subject
- Keeping an agenda/datebook where all assignments are listed
- Turning in all assignments on time
- Knowing the multiplication tables from 1-10
- Read X books a week
- Participating in the science fair
These goals are ones your child has control over and are easy to measure, which are important features in goals and in the next step.
Set End Dates and Checkpoints
For each goal, set an end date. Whether it’s the end of the quarter, end of the semester, end of the month or until the end of the school year, your child needs a timeline for when the goal will be achieved. Then, set a few checkpoints in between now and your deadline. At these checkpoints, you can evaluate your child’s progress together. This will offer your child a helping hand in accountability. Older children can eventually be entrusted to take care of checkpoints on their own.
Your child will need a reminder of what their goals are as well as when the checkpoints and deadlines for each one are. Whether you choose to make a chart to hang in your child’s room, add them to the family calendar or list feature on the Picniic app or have your child list the goals in their school agenda, documenting them is key. At each checkpoint, document whether the goal is being met or not and to what degree. For example, your child may report that 8 out of 10 assignments were turned in on time. Discuss why 2 were late. Is the excuse acceptable?.
Modest celebrations after achieving goals is most certainly warranted! Most of all, you should celebrate the satisfaction your child feels after working hard to achieve a goal. However, you can add incentives that fit in with your family’s lifestyle such as enjoying an ice cream date, preparing a special meal together, doing a special craft, visiting a museum, going for a bike ride, a special movie night, etc. If possible, plan celebrations ahead of time so that your child knows exactly what to look forward to once the goal has been achieved.
By setting and working towards achieving goals throughout the school year, you teach your child the value of hard work, perseverance and delayed gratification, among other things. Why not incorporate this new aspect to your family life this school year?
Do you have a story about setting goals with your child? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.