Teach School Children to Set and Achieve Goals


Teaching grade schoolers to set and achieve goals is an important responsibility. The ability to be able to determine one’s goals is a necessity for living a fulfilling life. Those that fail to learn how to set goals and how to successfully work toward achieving them find themselves floundering about in life, lost, constantly searching for answers. Having a goal gives you a target to shoot for. Without a target, you can never hit a bulls-eye.

Goal Setting Needs to be Taught

The ability to set goals is something that needs to be taught. Contrary to popular belief, this ability is not instinctual and, as such, does not come naturally for most people. Although life lessons can be a valuable teacher, as well, these lessons sometimes are not enough to get a person to realize the importance of goals. Therefore, it is the job of parents, teachers, coaches, and anyone else working with grade schoolers to help them understand the need to set goals. In addition, they need to taught how to set goals, how to work toward them, and how to monitor their own success toward achieving them.

Teaching Them Why to Set Goals

Understanding the importance of setting goals is an abstract concept for children. Therefore, you should try to make this concept as concrete as possible with an analogy. Ask the children to get into a group and plan what they are going to take with them on vacation. Inevitably, they will come to the conclusion that they need to know where they are going in order to decide what they need to take with them. Do they need warm clothes or summer clothes? Do they need many clothes or just a little? Do they need to pack food? Do they need hiking shoes? The answers to all of these questions lie in the destination of the trip. Without knowing the destination, they cannot make proper plans.

After this illustration is used, grade schoolers begin to understand the need to have a goal in mind. Without a goal, they cannot set a course of action.

Teaching Them How to Set Goals

The next step is to teach the grade schoolers how to actually set the goals. This can be tricky, as well, because many will become overwhelmed. Remind the children that goals do not have to be major life decisions, such as what they want to be when they grow up. In addition, it is okay for goals to change. Instead, have the children focus on short-term goals, such as completing all assignments on time for the year, taking the garbage out with out being reminded, or joining basketball and obtaining a certain position.

Teaching Them How to Work Toward Their Goals

Once the grade schooler has a goal in mind, he or she will also need to be shown how to work toward the goal. Many kids actually do set goals for themselves, but these goals are often unrealistic or go unmet because the child does not know how to work toward achieving them. Sit down with the grade schooler and help him or her break down the steps necessary to reach that goal. For example, the child who wants to complete all assignments on time can come up with a plan to work on homework assignments every day immediately after school to make sure they get done. The one that wants to get a certain position on the basketball team may make a plan to practice for certain amount of time every day. The grade schooler wanting to take out the garbage without being reminded may work on including taking out the garbage as part of a regular morning routine.

The individual circumstances will be different depending on the child and the goal. But, the more you can help the grade schooler break down the steps necessary to reach the goal, the more likely the child will be to succeed at reaching the goal.

Teaching Them How to Monitor Their Success

A problem many children have is the tendency to give up when they hit a roadblock on the way toward their goal. Therefore, you need to also teach the grade schooler how to monitor his or her own success and to judge honestly whether steps are being made in the right direction. Remind the children that they have already created the map toward achieving their goals, but now they need to check that map once and awhile to make sure they are still on the right path. Also, let them know that it is okay if it becomes necessary to change the route now and again – that’s the great thing about maps, there are many different roads that can be taken in order to reach the same destination!

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