To answer that question, you first each need to consider what you want the outcome to be. What accomplishments and feelings would you each like to have on the last day of school? Essentially, what are your goals?
In future blogs, we will be addressing how to develop some important tools and strategies for building your child’s Executive Function skills (the cognitive skills that give us the ability to focus, plan, and act in a goal-directed manner). But let’s start off with seeing what we can do now to help you and your child prepare for a successful school year.
I am a firm believer that in order to make any change or progress, it’s helpful to start basic and small. You and your child will no doubt have different ideas as to what you believe is important and reasonable to set as goals for the year. As parents, we are often focused not just on the academic subjects, but on the broader life skills that must be developed to support achieving future goals. Things such as waking up independently, managing personal hygiene, and keeping personal space clean and orderly are on many parents’ minds. Students, in addition to thinking about their classes, are often focused on their developing social life, pursuing their interests, and having downtime to just chill.
A good place to start planning for the new year is by taking out a sheet of paper simply writing a list of what you each thought went well last year and what areas you would each like to see growth or change happen. While you may instinctively want to shape the list to your vision, it will be most valuable at this point to get your child’s input and perspective. When looking back over the areas that may not have going well last year, try to highlight the ones where your child can more easily see the value in working toward growth. The discussion is intended to help your child visualize a positive, satisfying, and productive school year.
Here are a few areas you may want to consider in your discussion:
Once you have developed your list of areas you agree could use improvement, then you can begin setting some goals. I recommend you start with just a few areas so as not to create too much overwhelm or stress. As certain areas improve, you can add on new goals. If the goal is too vague or broad, then it may not be valuable, motivating, or achievable within the coming school year. To ensure it’s value, you will want to elaborate on each goal listed. It is helpful to use the acronym SMART to supercharge your goals.
Each goal should be:
Once a goal has been clearly defined, the steps have been identified, and the potential barriers and obstacles have been explored and addressed, it will be vital to help your child stay connected to his goals and on track with his plan. Keep in mind that often once the initial excitement of creating the plan wears off, it may become necessary to help him revisit and address any challenges he faces along the way. It’s also essential to help him acknowledge and appreciate the success along the way to help him stay motivated.
Learning how to set and track goals is a life skill that can help your child be successful throughout life. Keep in mind that this is a learning process and that sometimes the most valuable lessons are around choosing the best goals and knowing when and how to adjust our plans. Reach out to us if we can support you or your child with this process.
Enjoy the new year.