In January, many of us like to set New Year’s Resolutions for ourselves for the year ahead, whether it be new fitness regimes, or better eating habits, or starting a new hobby, or visiting with family more. Goal setting can be an incredibly important and productive task, if done correctly. For children, this is no difference. Setting goals can help children understand the importance of being self-aware, having a growth mindset, and even pursuing their individual interests and strengths. So, here are some tips for making positive and achievable goals for 2019 with your children, both at home and in the classroom.
1. Explain what goals are and the important of goal setting
To start, with children, it is important to define the word “goal”. Talk to your child (or class) about what the word “goal” actually means. See what the word goal means to them and work from there. Explain to them that a goal is something you are trying to achieve by changing behaviours, habits, and beliefs. Build on this definition with a discussion about why it is important to set goals. Goals can help improve self-confidence, provide opportunities for growth and problem-solving, and keep you adaptable to change.
2. List and narrow the goals
The next phase of goal setting with children to is actually start articulating what goals are for the New Year. You can start with a “wish list” of sorts, where you go through all the goals children can think of. Then, narrow your list down to a few more realistic goals. It is important to make sure that goals are realistic and achievable so as to keep children motivated and encouraged. If multiple goals are related, start small, or scaffold the goals, so that they logically lead into one another. For example, if your child wants to learn to play a song on the guitar, start with learning individual notes, then learning chords, then learning a few lines of the song, etc. until you build up to the bigger goal of the whole song.
3. Create a plan
Once you have specific goals in mind, create a plan for achieving them. Two good ways to do this is first of all creating a step by step list, similar to what was mentioned for guitar playing above, and the second is creating a visual for milestones in your goal. Make sure your list and milestones, or sub goals, are specific and realistic. Also, keep in mind that different children learn best in different ways, some may respond well to visual representations, such as a graph with boxes to check off as you go along, or a mind map of the interrelated goals for the year, and some may prefer methods that are more linear, such as a structured list. Lastly, set a timeline for achieving the goals and sub goals you have set forth, check in regularly with your progress, and set up rewards throughout. For example, if your child (or student’s goal) is to read a certain novel, decide a completion date, for example, March, then, decide dates for completion of each of the chapters, and set aside small rewards, such as a sticker for their list, or a small token such as bookmark for completion of each chapter.
4. Celebrate accomplished goals
Finally, celebrate when the entire goal is complete! Setting, working on, and completing goals is difficult and effortful. Celebrate with children to acknowledge their hard work and achievement!