Teaching SMART goal setting is the key
What does the child in your life wish for in the new year?
- score a winning run for their baseball team?
- make an A in algebra?
- make a new friend?
- a pony?
As we look toward the new year, it is always a good time to teach children about goal setting and goal achievement. This is moving beyond merely writing a resolution, although that can be a useful first step. A goal is a resolution or a dream attached to an action plan and time table. It is dreaming on steroids and a useful tool in every child’s motivational toolkit.
Step 1: Write the goal
The first step is to teach children to have a goal and to write it down. Research has shown that just having a goal is useful, but writing it down increases the chance of success by a huge margin. Teach children to write goals that are SMART:
Specific: Instead of “make good grades” write “make an A in algebra”
Measurable: Instead of “run faster in track club” write “run a mile in X minutes”
Attainable: Consider the starting point. It will be hard to make an A in algebra if you are currently failing. “Raise grade to a C or passing” might be more attainable
Realistic: Goals should be meaningful as well as possible. Setting a goal of running a race in a certain amount of time is useful if the student can stretch to meet the goal and has a desire to do so. Setting a goal of getting a pony in one year might be unrealistic but saving money to take riding lessons may be reasonable and doable.
Timely: An often neglected and important aspect of a goal is a deadline or point in time at which it can be expected that the goal will be accomplished. Some examples of a time frame might be: Run a race in X minutes by the end of track season. Save enough money to take riding lessons in 6 months.
Step 2: Create an action plan
Too often we teach goal setting without teaching what to do after the goal is set. We expect that it should be obvious. It’s not… as evidenced by the number of students who not only fail to reach their goals but don’t get out of the starting gate. Here are some steps to make goals achievable.
Once you’ve created a SMART goal, create an action plan that is SMART.
Specific: What will you do to reach the goal? For example: Study algebra by reviewing the day’s lesson and completing homework.
Measurable: When and how often? For example: Study algebra daily for at least 30 minutes.
Attainable: Make sure the action plan is consistent with other obligations and lifestyle. Study Monday-Friday for 30 minutes daily may be much easier than Study 4 hours on Saturday. Make sure the goal is a stretch but not so much of a stretch as to be a recipe for failure.
Review: Build in a review process periodically to make sure the action plan is working. Create a method of tracking test scores or running times and determine progress.
Tweak: Based on the review process make changes to the plan as necessary. For example, maybe you need to study 1 hour on the night before a test. Maybe the day before a race is a rest day not a practice day. Maybe you need to do some extra chores to earn more money to save.
Children who learn to set goals and follow up with an action plan, develop into hopeful forward-looking children. Despite personal doubts or fears, they are willing to tackle situations that may be hard and difficult. They are children who recognize their own ability to be successful and create change in the world.
Start the new year off right with:
Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games
Just for you! Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books. Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.