Helping Your Child Establish New Year’s Resolutions

The school year is well underway, but it’s a brand new calendar year and an ideal time for students to think about how to continue making positive progress in school. This month, spend time with your child to come up with a set of academic New Year’s resolutions. This exercise is worthwhile for several reasons:

  • The process of thinking about how to achieve one’s goals is highly beneficial, helping students stay motivated, build confidence and persevere.
  • Setting resolutions teaches students how to think introspectively about their life and goals.
  • Taking the time to identify areas of improvement helps students learn the importance of discipline and encourages them to take action to achieve the things they want rather than hope they happen.

 

As you welcome the New Year, here are a few tips for guiding your child to establish resolutions that will kick off the winter term right:

Make them realistic. Too often, people make resolutions that are unreachable. Encourage your child to set resolutions that are achievable and reasonable, given your child’s age and academic ability. For example, a resolution to earn all As this school year when your child has a C average isn’t realistic. A resolution to raise any C grades to a B is more attainable.

Focus on the action, not the result. Grades are a useful measure of a student’s understanding of subject matter and progress toward grade-level standards, but as a parent, try to focus on learning and effort, not outcomes such as grades. When setting resolutions, your child’s focus should always be on effort not results. Encourage your child to answer honestly whether he or she is focused on learning class material and has put sincere effort into all subjects.  If not, what could your child do differently in the future?

Plan out the steps. Setting a goal but failing to define the steps necessary to achieve it is likely to be ineffective. As your child comes up with resolutions, encourage him or her to break down each one into smaller steps. Then, have your child assign dates to each step. Your child should make a plan to follow up on those sub-steps periodically to measure progress.

Put it on paper. It’s fine to brainstorm resolutions aloud, but always have your child write down the final list. Studies show that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Committing to resolutions on paper will help your child hone in on exactly what he or she wants to achieve. This written list also serves as inspiration—something tangible that your child can refer to regularly throughout the remainder of the school year.

Incorporate good study habits. No matter who your child is or what age, he or she could likely use a refresher on good study habits, such as time management and organization. Have a conversation with your child about how the year is going so far. Go over the evening schedule and how your child manages time, the homework routine, your child’s organizational habits and more. If anything needs improvement, establish resolutions that focus on making changes where needed. 

Setting New Year’s resolutions can be very valuable for students going into the second half of the school year, encouraging them to think about what went well and not so well in the fall term and define steps to make adjustments going forward. You’ll find that getting your child into the habits of self-reflection and continuous improvement will benefit him or her in the long run as well. Help your child navigate the process so that he or she heads back to school after holiday break armed with a great attitude and a plan for success.

 

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