Children have different emotions about returning to school each year. Some children are excited, some are anxious, and some may be a little scared.
Setting personal goals with your child can help them to think about what they want to achieve, motivate them, build confidence, and help to foster independence both inside and outside the classroom.
The back-to-school period is the perfect time of year to start setting smart goals with your child. There are different types of goals you can set with them.
It is important to remember that your child’s teacher will have goals and expectations for the entire class that include learning and behaviour expectations. You too can set different types of goals with your child, both for the longer term and short term.
1. First, begin goal setting by brainstorming with your child to define their big or longer-term personal goals.
You can start by asking them what they would like to achieve or what challenges they would like to overcome. Help your child understand the purpose of goal setting. They are likely to stick to it if they understand “the why” behind it. It is important to make sure the goals are specific so children are clear about what the goals are, and measurable so children can track their progress. Here are some examples.
- Make it to school on time every day
- Talk less in class
- Become a better reader
- Get a starting position on a sports team
- Get an A in math this year
- Try new things
- Contribute to class discussions
- Learn to play an instrument
2. Once you and your child have defined their personal goals, refine them to make sure they are realistic.
Break the big ones into smaller more manageable parts and plan for how to achieve them. Some types of goals may need more than one step, so break them down into smaller steps.
Remember, different goals take different amounts of time to achieve so establish reasonable timelines.
If your child wants to make it to school on time every day, for example, the plan may be to go to bed by a certain time and set an alarm clock to wake up in the morning.
In this case, working backwards from the time they need to be at school and figuring out what time they need to wake up will help your child develop organizational skills.
If your child wants to improve in math, for example, practising math skills for 15 minutes each day may be helpful.
Using an online resource like Netmath can help them practise the skills they need to master in order to achieve that goal. Netmath activities contain skills at different levels that can build the foundation they need to succeed in math.
3. Finally, once you have a set plan with your child, make sure to write it down or use some other creative, fun way to record it.
For example, you can post the plan on the refrigerator or somewhere your child will encounter it every day. You can also set a weekly or monthly reminder to check the progress.
RE-EVALUATING AND ACHIEVING GOALS
If working toward their personal goals do not go as planned, help your child determine how to stay on track so that they can achieve their goal. Don’t forget that it is important to offer encouragement and help them to understand that goals can be flexible. You can also revisit and readjust the goals that you have set with your child as needed.
You can help your child determine what went well, what didn’t work, what obstacles they faced and how they might do it differently. This will keep them motivated and not only help them understand why they didn’t achieve their goal, but help them the next time around.
Another important thing is to remember to celebrate with your child and congratulate them whenever a goal, or even a small step towards it, has been achieved!
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