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Making and Keeping School Goals


Q. I've never been very good about goal-setting, but would sure like to help our sons be good at that important life skill. I'd like to help them focus on what they really want to do in school, to zero in on and improve. Now that it's New Year's Resolution time, I'd like to start. They are 8 and 10. What should we do to help them make, and more importantly keep, some good resolutions?


Goal-setting is one of the best, most practical skills you can teach a child. And what better time for reflecting on what is past, and looking ahead to what needs to happen to have a better future, than on New Year's Eve?


Students who are taught how to identify specific, realistic goals and the steps that are necessary to meet those goals are bound to be more confident and enthusiastic about school, than kids who are just in the school building every day on a "sink or swim" basis.


Kids who know how to identify goals and do what's necessary to reach them are far better equipped to deal with the stresses and challenges of school than kids who just take each school day as it comes. Without goals, you are much more likely to procrastinate and become overwhelmed and stressed out.


So teach a child how to make - and keep - resolutions the fun way. Tell them that a resolution is like a promise that you make to yourself - a goal that you and only you can achieve. Since your sons are pretty young, let's play a little game of pretend. Tell your sons:


Let's pretend . . . you're a FARMER!


A farmer has a goal of making money for his family's daily needs. The farmer uses land and animals to produce good things to eat for the rest of us. The farmer's goal, then, is making money, and the way he does it is by making use of the land and the animals.


To meet his goal, he can't just wait and do all the work at once. He has to do certain things every day, and every season of the year, at the right time.


For example, he has to make sure the dairy cows are milked every day. It has to be a habit that he never breaks. If the farmer forgets for even one day, too much milk collects in the cow's udder, the cow suffers pain, the milk production declines, and maybe the cow gets sick and dies, and the farmer doesn't make any money.


But if the farmer remembers to milk that cow consistently, every day, and keeps his resolution to milk the cow, he meets his goal, and everyone wins.



It's the same thing with any goal your child might have: to get what you want, you have to work toward your goal and practice good habits every day.


How can your child remember to do that?


Download and print out this picture, cut it out, and have your child write his or her New Year's Resolution or goal regarding school underneath it.


Maybe it'll be to read one paperback book per week.


Or miss no more than one on spelling tests the rest of the school year?


Or be able to go through a stack of math flash cards in one minute because he's memorized his math facts?


Whatever your child's goal is . . . help him come up with it and write it under the picture of the farmer and the cow.


Then tape it to the bathroom mirror, where your child will see it every day, and remember the illustration of the dairy farmer and his DAILY work toward his goal.


Let's say his goal is to read one book per week. Every day, when he brushes his teeth, he'll see that farmer and cow picture, and think about what he needs to do THAT DAY to accomplish his goal. Maybe it's read an extra chapter because he slacked off the night before. Maybe it's remind you to take him to the library to check out a new book for the coming week, or go to the second-hand store to pick up some used paperbacks at a bargain price.


Whatever it takes . . . help your child remember to moooooove toward the goal, every day.


Keeping your promises to yourself is a good life skill. Milk it . . . for all it's worth!



Homework: Here's a book that can help you instruct your child in greater detail about this important life skill:


By Susan Darst Williams Discipline & Safety 09 2008


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