Happy New Year! Happy new school year, that is. Whether your child began school in mid-August or just after Labor Day, September is the traditional mark of school being back in full swing.
Much like January 1, the start of a new school year is a chance for a fresh start. With a fresh start comes an opportunity for your child set his or her “goaled” standard.
By definition, goal setting is “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.” Typically, goal setters follow a rigid approach, requiring goals by written down and step created to form an action plan that you follow step-by-step.
This approach is great in theory, but it rarely happens in practice. Why? Because goals are more than just an achievement; goals are experiences, hopes, dreams, desires. And, for kids, goals are a way to power up their wishes and make them come true.
How to Make Goal Setting the Standard for Your Child
Make a Wish: Ask your child what his or her wish is for this school year. Does your sixth grader wish to have an A-average in math? Perhaps your kindergartener wants to read her first chapter book by the end of the school year? Once he or she makes a wish (or two or three), ask them to write it down in present tense. For example, I am earning an A-average in math class this year.
Make a Commitment: If you asked your child which is better: thinking about ice cream or eating it, what would he or she say? My guess is that the answer would be eating. Wishes are like that ice cream. A wish that doesn’t come true is like ice cream that you only think about but never get to eat. When you make a commitment that you are going to eat the ice cream, you are going to do anything in your power to make that happen. So, ask your child to make a commitment to this wish. Better yet, have them write down their commitment and then sign it, date it and post in a prominent place.
Get SMART about Powering Up a Wish: This is the where the goal-setting process that we are familiar with sets in. It’s also where your child gets SMART about his or her wish by stating what they want in a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely manner. Help your child set a SMART goal by adding more tangibles. For example, I will be on Honor Roll with a 3.75 GPA by December 14, 2011.
Take ‘em by Storm: Brainstorming is a great way for you child to come up with a strategy for reaching this goal. Give your child a giant piece of paper and some markers to list or even draw all the ways this goal might be reached. Be sure to include the far-fetched to the easy to grasp. Once he or she feels they have spilled all their ideas onto the paper, ask them to choose a few strategies that they feel would work best for them.
Get into Action: Now it is time to get into action and make that goal (and wish) come true! Take some time to plan with your child when he will do the strategies he chose. You may want to consider marking them on a family calendar or have your child keep a daily to-do list. Keep your child accountable to getting actions done by checking in with him or her and even making a progress chart to track their action steps.
Seeing the Future: Have your child spend time each day imaging (aka visualizing) their wish coming true. What does it look like when she reads that first chapter book? What does it feel like? She can do this by simply closing her eyes and picturing herself having or doing the things she wants. Another way to imagine is to create what’s called a vision board. A vision board is a collage or picture that focus on your child’s wish. To make one, have your child choose pictures, photos or other things that get her excited about the goal. Then paste them, color, draw and write on a piece of colorful poster board or construction paper. Place the vision board somewhere your child can look at during the day. You might want to keep it close to the bed or even posted above the bed so your child can look at when he or she wakes up and falls asleep.
Celebrate! To really set the goaled standard this year for your child, remember to have little celebrations along the way. Staying happy and having fun are an important part of your child’s success. Think about some ways that you might reward your child when he has made it halfway to his goal. Also, ask him to think about how he’d like to celebrate when he gets to his goal.
Interested in starting a conversation of character in your home? Check out Julie Watson Smith’s workbook, Karmic Acts of Character.