Parents are instrumental in helping kids set, achieve goals

May 21, 2004|by LISA PREJEAN

As the school year draws to a close, now is a good time to reflect.What were your child's strengths this year? What were his weaknesses?

What can he do to make next year a better year? What should we as a family do differently to help?

What caused the most stress? What do we need to do to alleviate that?

Perhaps we need to drop some activities. Or, maybe we need to devote more energy and effort to the activities that are truly making a difference in our child's life.

It's important to help a child set - and then achieve - goals.

"If we can get more kids to own their education, then a lot of goals teachers had would be realized," says John Bishop, executive director of Accent on Success, a nonprofit organization based in St. Louis. "We do so much for the teacher to help the student, but we don't give the student tools to help the teacher."


Goal setting involves thinking about what you want, writing it down, developing a plan to make it happen and setting a date to complete the goal, Bishop writes in his workbook, "Goal Setting For Students."

The plan will only become a goal when the child acts on it. If he never takes action, his plan is only a dream, not a goal, Bishop writes.

A child may need help identifying a goal and the action steps needed to achieve that goal.

In his workbook, Bishop gives this example:

Challenge: I am capable of doing better in my classroom activities.

Goal: I will put more effort into each class.

Action steps:

1. I will listen better and take more notes in class.

2. I will ask the teacher if I can do something for extra credit.

3. I will take 10 minutes the night before class to look over the subject material.

4. I will participate more in classroom discussions.

Target date: Starting today.

Summer is a great time to develop new habits. Encourage your child to get in the habit of setting goals.

Ask what he'd like to accomplish over the next several weeks - perhaps learning to ride a bike, playing a difficult selection on a musical instrument or going beyond stick-figure drawing.

Then help him develop some action steps to go along with that goal.

Share goals as a family, and encourage each other with each step that is made toward achievement.

The support of a loved one often is enough to make a person stick with a difficult goal, especially when the going gets tough. Then there's the added bonus: The shared experience will draw family members closer to each other.

Summer always flies by, and before we know it, school will be starting again.

Let's help our kids reach some goals this summer. The sense of accomplishment is bound to carry over into the classroom.

More than 25 teachers and administrators provided input for Bishop's colorful 68-page workbook that features open-ended questions and examples designed for students in fifth through ninth grades.

There are at-home activities to reinforce ideas that are presented.

For more information, go to on the Web.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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