I don’t ‘do’ New Years Resolutions. I do goals … lots of them. And this year my kids will too.
I am a big believer in setting (and reaching) goals. And I want to instill this in my kids as well. I know goals are not the be-all and end-all. I know they need to be flexible. But I also know that they can be amazingly effective.
This New Year I will be doing some goal setting myself, and also setting some goals with my kids. I thought you might be interested to know how we do this, as I have some experience in this regard (and cue the story …)
My most recent year teaching, before I stayed home with my kids, I taught in an Intensive Support Classroom. I taught 14 incredible children with learning disabilities. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life (before staying home full time that is …)
I am not going to lie, my first few days teaching that class were very intense. Incredibly intense. I realized that I needed to set some goals for myself to get on track. Within a few weeks I realized that wasn’t enough. I needed the children to set goals for themselves as well.
Learning to set goals was a tricky thing in itself. But we got there. My kids were setting goals all on their own by the end of the year … and achieving some pretty awesome ones too.
The success I saw with goal setting in the classroom was amazing. I am really eager to do it at home as well. Here are some tips for goal setting with kids:
1. Break big goals into little goals. One of my students really wanted to learn to read. A really big (really wonderful) goal. So we broke that into chunks. Small, bite sized goals.
It’s also important to help little ones keep goals specific to things they have control over. For example, a child may not be able to achieve getting an 80% on each and every test (that depends on the test, how the teacher is marking, his or her understanding of the content, and a million other things) but he or she does have control over how much studying is done. A better goal would be to review notes every night for 20 minutes. Or to begin studying 3 days before a test.
2. Keep them short term. Especially for little ones. For my 4 year old, we will focus on a goal he can accomplish in about a week. And keep the size of the goals very small, and hopefully attainable. Perhaps it will be to do up his own zipper on his coat. (Though it probably won’t be something quite so practical … it will probably involve the chickens … somehow)
3. Celebrate success! When a goal is achieved, celebrate! Talk about how proud you are of your child to him, to your friends, to anyone! And let them tell you how proud they are of themselves as well.
4. Build on the goal … or completely change goals. Since my little guy will be learning to zip his coat (hypothetically … though almost certainly not), perhaps his next goal will be to do up his own jeans – zipper and button. OR, perhaps his next goal will be to learn to skip rope! My kids’ interests change like the wind, so it only makes sense that their goals will too.
5. Talk about YOUR goals. It’s no surprise that little ones model what they see. If my little ones hear me talking about my goals and celebrating my successes they will want to as well.
I haven’t had a New Years Resolution in a long time. But I have so many goals each and every year. A lot of which I achieve, and some that I don’t. But using the 5 steps above, or at least similar steps, help me to keep my focus and drive. And keeps me headed where I want to go.
I am hoping goal setting with my kids will inspire them to try new things and to persevere with challenges. I hope this provides them with many chances throughout the year to celebrate small successes. Chicken-related, or otherwise (though most certainly many will be chicken-related)