How to Set Goals for Your Child This School Year


Back-to-school is a natural opportunity for your child to set goals for the year.

Doing so can help students succeed at school, while also learning the critical life skill of goal-setting.

So, instead of limiting your preparations to stocking up on the right school supplies, consider helping your child think about what they hope to accomplish academically in the new school year and then turn these goals into a plan of action.

Define the Word ‘Goal’

First, make sure your child knows what goal-setting is. It will be hard for them to set goals if they don’t really understand what a goal is. Start by explaining the concept. Essentially, a goal is something that a person wants to achieve. A goal is realized after a person puts a plan of action in motion that makes their intention a reality.

Teach the Language of Goal-Setting

Introduce your child to the relevant language of goal-setting. Beyond simply understanding what a goal is, make sure your child knows how to work toward a goal including learning how to strategize, organize, and prioritize. Discuss short and long-term goals as well and the value of chunking their goal into smaller pieces.

Knowing how to talk about their goals is key in getting them to understand their goals and what it may take to achieve them.

Brainstorm Together

While you want your child to come up with their own aims, it can be fruitful to brainstorm together. Be a sounding board and ask questions in order to help your child discover and refine goals that resonate with them.

Questions to Ask

Obviously, you’ll want to ask if they already have any goals in mind. Either way, keep asking questions until your child seems to click with a possible goal they want to work toward. Possible questions you might pose to your child include:

  • Are there any new academic skills you want to learn and/or improve?
  • Do you have any school-related strengths and/or weaknesses you’d like to focus on this year?
  • I noticed you’ve learned how to ___________. What would you like to do next with that skill?
  • Is there anything that you want to work on at school this year?
  • What’s your favorite/least favorite subject?
  • What do you think your teachers or friends might suggest you work on?

Once your child has come up with a general idea for their goal or goals, the next step is narrowing in on what specifically they hope to accomplish and making sure the goal is feasible. This is when you can help your child refine their goal into something that is doable for them, at their grade level, in one academic year.

The experience of back-to-school goal-setting can help your child find greater success and engagement at school and teach them that they are the engineer of their academic journey.

Remember that while it’s wonderful if your child reaches all their school goals, don’t worry if some get unfulfilled. They can always re-adjust or set new, more feasible goals.

Plus, your child can learn just as much from a failed goal as a successful one. Not reaching goals teaches kids how to be flexible, think critically, problem-solve, and cope with disappointment. And likely, their next go-around of goal-setting will be more fruitful.


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