Academic Goals:  Make them Personal

Posted on September 25, 2015

by Mindy Boyd

A new school year is here, and with it, the opportunity to grow, achieve and succeed! As parents and teachers, we are always looking for ways to help our children seize this opportunity. We assist them with planning and studying, and sometimes we even have to step aside and let them learn a lesson or two the hard way. In a recent article I read about helping children set academic goals, I realized the key to helping them grow, achieve and succeed does not start with us but with THEM!

Dr. Lori Desautels, professor at Marian University, wrote an article about the importance of having children establish an emotional attachment to their goals. She stated, “If children are going to become academically successful, they need to feel ownership of their education.” The process of setting goals is important because it allows our children to choose where they want to go in school and what they want to achieve.  Ultimately, goal-setting gives students long-term vision with short-term motivation.

When setting goals, begin by asking your children how they feel and what they want to achieve. Keep the goals SMART:  S-specific, M-measurable, A-achievable, R-relevant, and T-timely. Using their ideas, discuss with them what exactly they want to accomplish, what steps they will need to take in order to reach their goal, how they will know they have met their goal, how reaching their goal will help them, and how long it will take to reach their goal.

Allowing children the opportunity to set personal goals gives them a sense of power and control over their schoolwork. In addition to empowerment, goal-setting builds responsibility as they learn to set small goals, measure progress, and assess the strategies they used. If progress is not being made at the rate they want, they can begin to explore ways to improve. This allows for the opportunity to sharpen their creative problem-solving skills. And don’t we all want our children to learn how to be good problem solvers?

What academic goals do you have for your children this year? More importantly, what goals do THEY have for themselves? Take the time this school year to help your children set some SMART goals. You may be surprised at how hard they work when they are given the opportunity to set some personal, academic goals!