One of my favorite weeks of the year is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The hustle to prepare for Christmas is behind you and the calendar is usually wide open because of the holiday lull. It’s a great time to look forward to a fresh new year.
With the approach of a new semester and a new year, you can begin teaching your kids the importance of setting goals by helping them think about what they want this new year to look like. In the past, we sat down with our children from elementary through high school to help them think through and write down their goals. Here are 3 steps to help kids set New Year goals and how to achieve them.
Step #1: Teach your kids why we need goals.
It was natural for me to teach my kids about manners and how to manage their emotions. But several years into parenting, I realized I also needed to teach my children about setting goals.
Goal-setting can help our children connect their today to their future. Goals help them direct their energy and time toward something that’s important to them and learn to break down the overwhelming into small, manageable steps.
Say, for instance, that my high schooler would love to play first chair in the orchestra. When that desire is set up as a goal, he learns how to best use his time and resources to meet that goal– perhaps by increasing his daily practice by 15 minutes or adding in technical exercises to increase proficiency.
Step #2: Teach your children how to set goals.
One of the best ways to teach kids how to set goals is to use the SMART method. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Let’s break each one of these down.
Specific goals are well defined. Instead of “do well in school” kids should set a specific goal such as “make an A in algebra 1.”
Measurable goals mean your child can track her progress toward the goal. Instead of “be a better basketball player” she could choose measurable goals like “make 60% of free throws.”
Attainable goals help your child figure out how to get to the end point. This is where your child will determine the steps needed to meet his goals. If his goal is to “save up $1000 for college” then he can begin to list the steps needed to get there.
Realistic goals will teach your child to shoot for challenging but reasonable goals. Ask your child whether she has the skills and resources to achieve that goal.
Time-bound goals need to be achievable within a certain timetable. You can choose goals for the semester or goals for the year. Younger children usually need a shorter time frame as a full year can seem limitless to a 10-year-old.
Step #3: Teach your children what areas need goals.
Giving your children a few areas in which to set goals will help them think through where they are now and what changes they want to make. In our family, we ask our children to set goals in five areas: academics, health, relationships, extracurricular and personal/spiritual.
Academics covers primarily school goals but also can include outside reading and tests like the SAT or ACT. Health goals include eating and exercise habits. Relationships cover both family and friends. Extracurricular goals can include outside sports, music, clubs, and volunteer work. And Personal/Spiritual lets the child look at personal habits that need to be challenged or changed.
Two more tips will help make your goal-setting work: have your child write the goals down and then either pin them to a bulletin board or put them in a notebook where progress can be measured along the way. This iMOM printable will help even your youngest meet a goal.
What are some of the goals of your children and family?