Setting Goals for Success in the New School Year: 5 Focus Areas for Students and Families
Whether you have a preschooler or a middle schooler, the start of a new school year is filled with anticipation. As students organize their supplies, plan outfits for the first week, and prepare to meet new friends, parents know that this enthusiasm often fades after the early days. This is why goal setting is so important — to teach children of all ages the value of good habits, the importance of being proactive, and the rewards of making everyday decisions with long-term goals in mind. When you talk about goal setting for the new year with your child, focus on the following areas:
Mornings can make or break a day. A little structure makes a world of difference for students and parents alike. Consider doing as much as possible the night before — things like packing lunches, laying out clothes, and even prepping breakfast for the next day. Depending on your child’s age, a morning routine chart can be an extremely helpful way for students to visualize all that needs to be done, and in what order. This to-do list might include things like brushing teeth, making the bed, getting dressed, putting on shoes, filling a water bottle, and eating breakfast.
With no game plan, simple homework assignments can feel consuming. Consider setting up a homework center in your home that is comfortable, inviting, and free from distractions. Allow your student to be involved with this process so they feel invested in the space. Hang a calendar to help students note project due dates and visualize the milestones ahead. Establishing a homework “time” is also helpful in preventing procrastination. Be sure to build in breaks for older students with homework in multiple subjects.
Good nutrition is about so much more than growth. Students need healthy foods to have mental clarity, energy, and stamina to finish the day. Set goals for your family around all three meals and snacks and involve children in the planning, shopping, and food prep process. You might make it a goal to work one veggie and healthy protein into every meal, to serve raw fruits and veggies for snacks, or to drink a certain amount of water a day. The important thing is that parents model healthy lifestyles and invite their children along for the journey.
When students advance a grade, they are usually already excited about the new opportunities that await them. Encourage your child to step outside his or her comfort zone this year and go out for a new sport, join an interest-based club, or get involved with an activity they haven’t tried before. If they’re excited, praise them for their courage. For students who are more hesitant to try new activities, validate feelings, provide reassurance, and encourage them that no matter how different something seems, they can conquer it.
Character-based goals encourage students to evaluate their behavior and experience positive growth. Consider setting some goals around respect, kindness, patience, perseverance, or other character traits that you and your child identify together. Discuss specific ways these virtues can be demonstrated both at school and at home, and remember to track progress, helping students see the fruit of their hard work.
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