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Help Your Children Set Goals for Success – Top Ten Tips

Parents helping their child set goals

The new school year is an exhilarating time for both parents and children. Everyone is filled with high hopes and big expectations for academic success and achievement. But how do you ensure this feeling remains throughout the entire year, and doesn’t just fall flat after the first few weeks? How do you keep up the learning momentum and your child’s motivation? Start talking and set goals together.

The education experts at Oxford Learning, Canada’s leaders in preparing children for lifelong success, offer the following top ten tips for parents to help their children set goals for learning success for the school year and for a lifetime. By incorporating these tips into your family’s day-to-day routine, any child at any age can achieve greater confidence, self-esteem and success!

Top Ten Tips for Parents

Tip #1: Act Now and Set Goals Early

  • Before school begins, sit down with your child and review last year’s report card. Discuss successes and areas that need improvement and set goals in each subject area.
  • By setting goals early, you’ll ensure your child is happy and confident and has the ability to succeed from September through June.
  • Don’t wait until the first report card – children can fall too far behind and be left playing catch up for the rest of the year. Remember, children who start strong, stay ahead.

Tip #2: Take the Time and Listen Carefully

  • Listen carefully to the goals they would like to set for the year. But, don’t limit them to academics; include extra curricular activities such as clubs or sports as well.
  • Be calm and show your children that they have your undivided attention. You just may find out more from them than you ever expected they would share. Ask what they are concerned about. Are they anxious about anything in particular? What were the biggest challenges they faced last year?

Tip #3: Set Goals That Are Achievable, Measurable, and Believable

  • Successful goal setting means that goals are achievable, measurable and believable.
  • Achievable: Goals need to be set at a level that is more advanced than the level the child is currently working at, but not so advanced that it is unachievable or beyond reach.
  • Measurable: Goals need to be measurable so that both parents and students are able to track progress and success.
  • Believable: Children must believe in the goal and believe in their ability to achieve it for success.

Tip #4: Set Goals That Are Relevant To Your Child

  • Children must be motivated, otherwise nothing can be accomplished. It’s essential that they perceive the goal as being of value to them, positive and beneficial in order for them to want to act on it. Positive thinking is a very powerful thing, so if they feel as though they can meet the challenge, they will.
  • Remember, goals are very personal and individual so make sure they truly reflect your child and who he/she is.

Tip #5: It’s Never Too Early or Too Late to Set Goals

  • No matter what your child’s age or level of ability, it’s never too early or too late to teach them the fundamentals to help them succeed, and this includes setting goals.

Tip #6: Make Goal Setting a Family Affair

  • Be part of the solution – sit down with your child and set goals together.
  • Once these lines of communication are open and you have a dialogue going with your child, make a point of keeping it up.
  • Share your goals with family members (e.g., over dinner, in the car ride to school) so that everyone knows and can support your child as they work towards achieving these goals.

Tip #7: Be Supportive, Respectful and Encouraging

  • Show your child your respect by talking with them about their goals, as opposed to at them – let them take the lead.
  • Express to them your support of what they are trying to achieve and let them know that you are there to help them and encourage them every step of the way. This will help increase their confidence.
  • Be proud of your child’s efforts as well as accomplishments.

Tip #8: Meet with a Third Party to Build a Plan for Success

  • Communicating with children can be difficult for parents, particularly when it concerns issues about school and grades. That’s where Oxford Learning can help.
  • Once you and your child have sat down together to identify their goals, make an appointment with one of the experts at your local Oxford Learning centre. They’ll help you and your child build a reasonable and realistic plan for achieving these goals with confidence, ease and success.

Tip #9: Incorporate Frequent Check-Ins

  • Monthly reviews of how your child stands against their goals are a great way to keep the momentum moving forward. It’s also a great way to measure your child’s success and progress in achieving their goals because it gives them a timeline to work towards.
  • Monthly check-ins will also let you know when the original goal has been achieved and that it’s time to set a new one.

Tip #10: Reinforce and Celebrate When Goals are Achieved

  • When goals are met, celebrate! Positive re-enforcement will help to encourage your child to set new goals and continue on the path to success.
  • Limit the rewards you give your child on an ongoing basis, otherwise the rewards will become the motivator. Remember, the achievement of their goal is a reward in and of itself.
  • Look back on your child’s accomplishments together to re-enforce progress and capabilities.

Dr. Nick Whitehead, co-founder and President, Oxford Learning, and Ms. Kelley McGregor, Director of Training and Operation, Oxford Learning, are available for interviews.

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