Parents, you already know the importance of teaching your child to set goals and work toward them throughout his or her education. However, with the recent implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which not all states are using, the time is right to teach your child to set goals that are not only achievable and measurable, but also tied to school standards. Here are a few tips for developing goals with your student:
For older students, use a class syllabus to set specific class goals. Encourage high school students to set goals by class, using a class syllabus or other guide to identify the things toward which he or she should work. For example, a student might look ahead to all test and project dates in his or her history class and set a goal to develop a detailed study calendar/plan and avoid procrastinating.
Keep big picture goals in mind. No matter how old your student is, it can be helpful for him or her to “keep an eye on the prize.” For a high school student, earning scholarship money or getting into a particular competitive college might serve as a good long-term goal. For a younger student who loves reading and writing, a goal might be to enter a writing contest or write a story or book.
Target weaknesses. Using past report cards and/or teacher feedback, encourage your child to focus his or her efforts on improving areas where he or she is struggling or not consistently meeting expectations. Be sure to look at your state’s most up-to-date academic standards and the report card/progress report rubric that details expected progress toward skill mastery. Your child’s teacher can help you lay out a plan to help your child improve in specific areas.
Build upon strengths. While it is important to take note of areas of weakness, it is also important to help students recognize their strengths. Perhaps your child is weaker in math but enjoys and excels at reading. Be sure to incorporate this strength into his or her academic goals. You can build your child’s self-esteem by providing him or her opportunities to experience success.
Goal-setting can be a highly effective process, and while setting less specific goals—such as improving in a subject or having a better attitude about school—is worthwhile, there is great value in identifying specific, tangible academic goals for your child to work on. Spend time at report card time (or more often) going through this exercise and revisit goals frequently throughout the school year.