We have probably all heard the cliche statement that a goal without a clearly defined plan is just a dream. There is no exception to this notion when it comes to student success. If our goal is to help students achieve success, not just academically, but in all areas of their lives, we need to be very deliberate about our planning for this success. And this includes teaching students how to properly set goals for themselves. Engaging students in goal-setting enables students to become proactive learners. Developing the skill of proper goal-setting helps students to become life-long learners, creates an intrinsic desire for self-improvement, boosts confidence and fuels ambition.
The ultimate reason for schooling is to prepare students for life. Encouraging students to set and work towards goals prepares them for the real world. From early on, students can gain a real appreciation for the fact that discipline and consistency are the building blocks of creating habits that promise success in life. This is why it is important to develop the proper ways of setting goals. A good strategy for setting goals is using the S.M.A.R.T. method. In this article, I’m going to briefly explain SMART goals and provide you with some questions to guide your goal-setting with your children:
S - Specific. Help your child to be specific about what he wants to achieve. Use simple but precise language.
Question: What exactly do I want to achieve?
M - Measurable. Encourage your child to measure her progress towards the goal. It is proven that when people are able to see their progress, motivation and engagement increase.
Questions: How will I know how far I’ve come? When will I know that I’ve achieved my goal?
A - Attainable. In developing healthy goals, we must make honest assessments of our abilities. Yes we want to set high expectations of ourselves, but we need to make sure that our goals are indeed attainable with reasonable effort, discipline and consistency. Explore your child’s thoughts about his ability. This is an excellent opportunity to get some insight into your child’s self-efficacy. Ask her about the things she might need to do to achieve the goal.
Question: Can I achieve this goal once I apply myself properly?
R - Relevant. Discuss the relevance of the goal to your child’s life. Help your child to explore the reasons that he/she wants to achieve the goal. Ask questions about how the goal will make his/her life better and how it will benefit him/her in the long term.
Question: How will this goal make my life better? Will it make me a better son/daughter, sibling, friend or student?
T - Time-bound. Explain to your child the importance of putting deadlines on goals. This is also a great time to talk to them about the accountability it takes to achieve your goals. Additionally, make sure to emphasise that deadlines should be realistic.
Question: How long do I really need to achieve my goal?
Teaching your children how to properly set goals has so many benefits. Instead of having these broad, adult-imposed goals for our children, allowing them to set their own goals enables them to connect their own personal ambition with their school work and extracurricular activities. It instills in them a high level of pride, accountability and intrinsic motivation. Having goals promotes determination and healthy will and creates the framework within which children can truly develop a growth mindset that carries with them throughout life.