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It’s a new year, and as adults, this is the time that we set intentions and goals for ourselves, usually centered around self-improvement. This can also be a great time for parents to help their children set some school-based goals for themselves. When setting goals with your child, you should make sure they are attainable and reasonable. We want there to be a level of success to build up a child’s self-confidence. This should be a positive experience! Goals can always be adjusted if needed if it appears they are too easy. Here are some examples of resolutions (goals) for a K-12 student and some ways to make them more effective:

1. Academic Goals:

Getting straight A’s is a common goal I hear from students. But this is a lofty goal for many. I often have to remind parents (and sometimes teachers) that it should be extremely difficult for a child to receive an A. If every student in the classroom is getting A’s either the curriculum is not rigorous enough or the teacher is not assessing accurately. C is average and most students should fall in the average range, like a bell curve. Instead of setting a goal of all A’s, set a grade goal for each subject that aligns with the child’s strengths and challenges or even set a GPA goal. GPA goals are great for student-athletes as this is the measure that is used to determine eligibility.

2. Homework Goals:

This can often be a tricky one. Homework is a necessary evil, in most school districts. However, most educators would agree that it does not show the effectiveness that we once believed it did. Many students have a goal to finish all their homework each night which is great! However, it can also lead to student burnout if you are not careful. Instead set a time limit and subject goal for each night. Research states that homework should take 10 mins per grade level each night. For a student in Kindergarten = 10 mins, 1st grade = 20 mins, 2nd grade = 30 mins, and so on. Set a timer for your student that correlates to the max amount of time they should be completing homework each night. Once the timer is done homework is done for the night. Divide subjects by days for example Monday and Wednesday Math and Science, Tuesday and Thursday language arts and social students. If a student finishes early let them silently read or read with you for the remainder of the time. Reading is truly the best use of time after a long school day. If you believe homework is taking longer than recommended above, have a conversation with your child’s teacher to make sure everyone is understanding the expectations.

3. Behavior Goals:

This is a great goal for students that may be struggling in the classroom. This is also a great goal to set with help from your child’s teacher or school social worker/counselor. Behavior charts are great ways to track this goal. These can be daily or weekly charts. For younger students daily charts are the best way to start. The chart will stay with your child at school. Your child’s teacher will mark each hour or period how your child did behavior-wise. This can be general behavior or specific such as: stayed in their seat, didn’t call out, kept body parts to themselves, participated, etc. At the end of each day your student will come home with their chart and a reward will be issued if your student accomplished their goal. Again remember to make the goal attainable, at first, it will be very hard to get a perfect chart, one bad period or hour should NOT ruin all possibilities of receiving their reward. If the chart has 7 periods or hours 4-5 positive remarks out of 7 should equal a reward. These rewards can be simple, extra electronic time, ice cream after school or dinner, extra time with a parent, or playing outside. Whatever drives your student. TWO very important things to remember with these rewards: 1) you MUST follow through. If the reward is ice cream or extra time with you YOU MUST MAKE IT HAPPEN. Children don’t understand rain checks. Not fulfilling the reward will invalidate the whole system. And 2) you can not take away the reward due to another reason. If a child earned extra electronic time because they accomplished their school behavior goals you can not take this reward away because they were rude that night at home or forgot to complete a chore. Find a different consequence if necessary but these must stay separate or again the system becomes invalid.

Setting goals is a great way for you to show your child how important school is to you and their future. Goal setting can happen any time of the year, but the new year is a great time for the whole family to set goals together. Consider doing weekly or monthly check-ins as a family where everyone shares the progress they are making with their goals or new year’s resolutions.

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