Giving Children Goals for the New Year

30 Dec

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The New Year is finally upon us! As children prepare to finish the latter part of the school year, it’s important to encourage kids to make educational goals for the new calendar year. Children can change their whole attitude toward the classroom, their peers, and even homework if learning is approached with intentionality. Here are some positive ways you can encourage your child to not only become passionate about learning, but also intentional.

The Importance of Planning

You can never stress the importance of having a plan enough when it comes to encouraging children to be prepared. There are several ways you can point out the planning that occurs every day to help children apply those same lessons to their own decisions:

  1. Talk about your plans.
    1. You make decisions every day. Discuss those decisions aloud with your child to allow him or her to understand your thought process. This will teach your child that your thoughts and actions are intentional.
  1. Make both long- and short-term goals.
    1. When you make goals, be sure you share them with your children. Whether it’s saving up for new furniture in the house, or even something as simple as making a list before shopping at the grocery store so that unnecessary items aren’t bought, include children in the planning process and allow them to see you accomplish goals both within your day and in the future. Encourage them to make their own goals when it comes to classroom accomplishments, pursuing subjects they are passionate about, or even improving behavior problems.

Leaving Time for Reflection

Though you can plan to the best of your ability, it’s natural that not every plan is going to work the way you imagined it. Some plans fall through no matter how much you wanted them to succeed. Unsuccessful goals can provide the perfect opportunity for reflection and making adjustments to try something new in the future. Here are a few ways to include children in the process:

  1. Ask the right questions.
    1. It’s important to ask questions that will require children to reflect on the topics being learned. If a child is not grasping a certain concept, try asking questions differently. For example, if your child is learning about safari animals, try something like, “Giraffes have long necks and long legs. What might be good about having long legs and a long neck? What other animals have long necks and long legs?” Great questions will help children make sense of new information by offering comparison. It will also give them a new approach to learning that may offer greater success in the future.
  1. Discuss the results of intentional planning.
    1. This is a great time to allow children to focus on the goals they’ve made and the results of trying to achieve them. If they’ve come up short, redirect their focus on ways to make goals more attainable and not on the disappointment of failure. Knowing what went wrong and how to fix it is all a part of the learning process!

Encourage Persistence and Commitment

  • Read stories like the Itsy Bitsy Spider or I Knew You Could! to instill values of persistence and determination in children even in the face of great obstacles.
  • Create a “Tomorrow Box” where children can store unfinished artwork to complete later.
  • Help children celebrate small successes by using charts or calendars to mark off daily accomplishments.
  • Model and encourage new ways to finish work children may be struggling to complete.

We hope you found these strategies useful for helping your child approach the New Year with intentionality. Find even more social and emotional strategies in the book Seven Skills for School Success. 

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