Whether your child is struggling or thriving with their academics, January is the perfect time to sit down to talk about what they would like to achieve as they finish up the school year. Follow these simple steps to get your kiddo up and running with their education goals. Academic aims are a great place to start when teaching your child how to be a goal setter and achiever. Remember: you always want goals to be measurable, and school often provides plenty of measurements for your child to base their aims off.
Help your child brainstorm
The best place to start when creating a goal is with a blank sheet of paper. Help your child brainstorm the academic areas they would like to improve. Have them write down everything they want to achieve. If your child is having trouble coming up with ideas, ask specific questions about areas you’ve seen them struggle or express a wish to improve.
Select a goal and polish it
Once your child is finished brainstorming what they would like to achieve, help them pick out one item they would like to use to create their goal. You may suggest grouping some brainstormed items together (ex. better test grades in math, do more homework in math, learn more math, could be grouped under “get a better math grade”).
Once your child has picked their objective, you will need to help them polish it. All goals need to be specific, realistic, measurable, and on a timeline. For example, a good goal for a 3rd grader might be “I will learn 90% of my times tables by the end of March.” To make sure your child’s aim meets all three criteria, you may need to ask guiding questions such as “when do you want to achieve this by?” or “how will you know when you’ve achieved this?” Once your child has settled on a goal that is specific, measurable, and on a timeline, have them write it at the top of a piece of paper.
Write action items
After polishing their goal, your child must decide what actions they will take to reach it. Your child will be much more likely to succeed if they have specific action items they can follow. Help your child decide on 3-5 things they will do to make their goal a reality.
For a student who is aiming to memorize their times tables, their action items might be to practice for 10 minutes every night, play multiplication games on the computer, and have their parent quiz them at the end of every week.
When asked “how are you going to make this happen?” children and teens may respond with vague answers such as “try harder.” Help guide your child to more specific action items by asking questions and suggesting ways to make each item more specific. Once your child has come up with the steps they will take, have them write the items underneath their goal.
Keep your child accountable
After your child’s goal has been set, have them post it somewhere they will see it often. Also, make sure to check in with them regularly on their progress. When checking in, re-state your child’s goal and ask how they think they’re progressing towards it. Then, run through the action items and ask what they feel they’ve been doing well, and what they feel they could improve. These conversations will help keep your child on track and focused.
Goal setting and the actions that follow are a skill that will not only help your child succeed in the classroom but also in life. Spending time on goal setting with your child this year will yield benefits for years to come.