National School Success Month: Set Your Goals for the School Year
It’s back to school time and National School Success Month is here!
Every September when a new school year begins, students, teachers, and parents arrive on the first day of school with a long list of goals. In this post, we’ll discuss:
- what National School Success Month is
- why it matters
- how to set realistic but challenging goals for a new school year
- tips to help you navigate the process
National School Success Month: What Is It?
Every September, the new school year starts with National School Success Month. It’s an opportunity to reflect on your expectations for the new school year, start from scratch, and set new goals.
As a teacher or homeschooling parent, what do you want to achieve this year with your kids? Have you been thinking about introducing a new program, technology, or educational technique into your routine? The National School Success Month was created precisely to offer students, teachers, and parents an opportunity to define what they want from the new school year.
Why Does National School Success Month Matter?
Every school year is an opportunity to achieve short- and medium-term goals—and advance on your long-term ones. However, many times school years come and go, and by the end of them we realize that we didn’t actually achieve what we meant to achieve.
The question is, why does that happen?
From my experience as a teacher and parent, I can tell you that most times it’s due to ill-defined goals and expectations. Precisely what the National School Success Month invites us to focus on. So, let’s set some outstanding goals for this new school year!
How To Set Your Goals for the New School Year
As parents or teachers, our goals go hand-in-hand with those of our kids. However, they are not exactly the same. So, the first thing you need to ask yourself is whose goals are you setting? Are these your own goals? Or, are you setting the goals you want your kids to achieve?
I think that most of us as educators are interested in helping our kids achieve success. Even when we talk about our own goals for the school year, these are somehow subordinated to those of the kids. For this reason, let’s focus now on our kids’ goals.
#1 Set Meaningful Goals
By participating in the goal-setting process, kids reflect on their own learning process and realize that they have some control over their own life. This is no small thing. Many times, this can be an awakening moment for them.
Asking your kids open-ended questions gives them an opportunity to develop self-awareness and think about the things they would like to achieve. Finally, by including them in this process, they’ll own these goals and feel more motivated to achieve them. This is much more effective than imposing goals without considering their interests.
#2 Set Achievable Goals
If we set too-ambitious goals, children may not achieve them and that will demoralize them. On the other hand, when kids achieve a goal, their self-esteem improves and they develop a sense of discipline. The goals you set with them should be realistic.
For instance, if your kid has never won an award during the science fair and that’s important for him, set that as a goal. That’s something achievable; it depends on putting forth the effort needed to stand out. Take baby steps at first, in order to be able to take bigger steps later.
#3 Set Specific Goals
Don’t simply say “let’s get better at math,” say “master the multiplication tables.” The first goal is a good starting point, but it needs to be refined to arrive at something measurable that can be reviewed at a later stage. The second goal is specific, defining exactly where the progress should be made.
By helping your kids to set specific goals during National School Success Month, they will visualize where they are going and what they need to do to get there. If their goals aren’t well-defined, they won’t know what steps to take in order to achieve them.
#4 Differentiate Between Long- and Short-Term Goals
Long-term goals are great. You could say they are more important than short-term goals. But it’s the accumulation of short-term goals achieved that will allow students to achieve their long-term goals. In other words, manageable short-term goals help your kid gain confidence and work towards the achievement of the long-term goals.
I mean, it’s great that they want to go to Harvard or play in the NFL one day. But if they are in fifth grade, they should focus on their spelling or perhaps on learning how to throw a football. National School Success Month should be more about short-term goals; for long-term goals, you don’t need to wait for the start of the school year.
Extra Tips for National School Success Month
What else can you do during National School Success Month? Well, the process of setting goals and expectations for the new school year can be challenging, as every kid has different needs and realities. How can you identify or help them identify their own goals?
As mentioned before, asking questions help kids to get to know themselves better, identify their interests, and become more involved in their own learning process. The following questions are a good way to help them set their own goals:
- What is important to you?
- How do you see yourself in one year?
- What are you proud of?
- What does success mean to you?
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal yourself or your kids is a great way to record your progress toward your goals. It works as a constant reminder of what you want to achieve and helps you focus on what needs to be done. Later, it can also help you review the process and find where things didn’t go as planned. Learn the benefits of keeping a language journal and the best ways of doing it.
Make It Visual
Writing down your goals is a good first step. It makes it a commitment. Creating a graphic organizer, a goal ladder worksheet, or a goal board for everybody to see sends that commitment to a whole different level.
Visuals also function as reminders of what we want to achieve and help your kids to focus on that path. A side effect of visuals is that they help to create an environment of learning and develop the kids’ creativity.
Make the Most of National School Success Month!
Remember that the main reason there is a National School Success Month in the first place, is to help teachers and students reflect on their goals for the new school year and create a path to achieve them.
Focus on identifying what you and them want from this new opportunity, and set your goals accordingly. If you want to keep them motivated throughout the year, this is a good resource on how to do it. Have a great school year!
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