Setting Goals with Kids

One of the best perks of being in education is that we get to start over twice a year–once in August/September when the new school year begins and once in January when the new calendar year begins. That means that kids, too, get to reboot twice a year and start anew!

For some of you, perhaps the first part of the school year was a good one for the kids. And for others, perhaps it was a struggle. Either way, setting goals with kids is an excellent practice and can help build skills for life. i.e.: Setting goals and then making action plans to reach goals.

As a teacher, I always set aside time at the start of the school year and at the start of the calendar year for setting goals with my students. The start of the calendar year is also the perfect opportunity to evaluate progress on the goals that were set at the start of the school year. In January, kids could scrap their goals and set brand new ones or simply adjust the ones that they’d set in August. Now is the perfect opportunity to sit down with your kids to set some goals for the remaining months of the school year.

So how do you go about setting goals with kids?

1. Together. Ask your child’s teacher at school if they set new years goals. If so, build on those so you can partner with the teacher. If not, sit down with your child along with any other parent/guardian who is involved. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one.

2. Guide. Guide your child in setting SMART goals.
Make sure they are:
S-specific (concrete)
M-meaningful (worthwhile)
A-attainable (with concerted effort) BUT also
R-rigorous (challenging)
T-three (no more than three total and they don’t all have to be related to school)

3. Plan. Make plans for how they are going to reach each goal. For example, if your child’s goal is turn in all homework on time, a viable plan would be to write assignments down in an assignment notebook (or planner), create a set time during the evening to do homework, and not do anything else until nightly homework is completed.

4. Evaluate. Determine when would be an appropriate time to evaluate those goals. This really depends on each individual goal, how long a child would need to demonstrate progress, and what measure you will use.

5. Reward. Many people do better with rewards, after all, who doesn’t like to be acknowledged for good work or meeting a goal? Our Lil Pig is just 5 years old so while he has a goal set for school, he also has a personal goal to get a $25 UNO Attack! We weren’t about to simply buy it for him. Instead, my man, Lil Pig and I sat down to create a plan for what he can do to earn it. He has to earn 25 stickers by: exhibiting kindness, cleaning his room, completing his homework, reading 3 books, etc… There’s a long list of ways he can earn a sticker. I’m guessing it’ll take him a few weeks to attain this goal. We shall see.

Do you set goals with your child? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday season! May the new year be one of peace, prosperity, and joy! As always, thank you for reading!