The new school year might be the last thing typical students want to think about during the adventurous days of summer, but it’s right around the corner! Here are some tips for setting successful goals with students to help you and your child make the most of planning for the year ahead.
The SMART Strategy for Goal Setting
Most goal setting experts agree that some version of the SMART method is a helpful framework for creating good goals and a path to achieving them. Widely used in business and professional development since the early 1980’s, this method can be adapted to help your middle or high school student avoid the biggest goal setting pitfalls – vagueness and unrealistic aspirations.
According to this framework, good goals are:
Specific: Encourage your child to be as particular as possible about what they hope to accomplish. This is a great opportunity to help them learn critical thinking, engage their imaginations, and for you to learn more about the desires God has given your child.
Measurable: Discuss ways your child might measure success with these new goals. Break big goals down into smaller milestone achievements to help keep your student focused and encouraged along the way.
Assignable: Explore what stewardship of their time and other resources needs to look like in order for them to succeed, as well as ways you are willing to support them along the way.
Realistic: Use this time to find realistic goals with your child as you praise the particular ways they are made. Show them how their unique gifts and weaknesses are both vital parts of how they serve and need others. Even if they don’t act like it, they need to know you really know them!
Time-bound: Set specific times for both milestones and goals with your student. This helps to create a sense of urgency, and you know there will be times along the way when your child will need that push to keep going. This is another way to help the goals you’ve chosen be more specific and realistic.
Be WISE Along the Way
To make good, realistic goals with your student, the SMART framework is a useful foundation. Don’t forget, though, that as Christians we are called not just to be smart: we should also pursue wisdom. These last few things might help encourage you to make truly exceptional and “WISE” goals for the coming year.
Wonder: Fireflies, family vacations, daydreaming – the summer months are packed with wonder. Make plenty of space to enjoy and explore the things your child is curious about. Make goals this summer that are purely for fun and play – they will enjoy the process of learning to make good goals, and it will give you a positive point of reference when it comes to making more serious goals for the upcoming year.
(Be) Intentional: It is so important to set aside time for the conversations and reflection you will need to make good goals with your student. Schedule that time! Use the inevitable boredom that comes with the doldrums of summer as times to celebrate last year’s successes and to get excited about the possibilities for the year ahead.
Serve: Think about ways at least some of your child’s goals can serve or minister to others. You might be surprised to discover that there are particular people or initiatives that your student cares about and wants to support in the year ahead. Help them develop their sense of belonging in a community, where their gifts and resources and time are needed. There are so many important conversations to have about serving others – let your goal setting work be a good place to let those conversations unfold.
Encourage: The challenges ahead are going to test your child and you. Remember that the ways your student needs and receives encouragement from you are changing quickly. See the goal setting process as a way to encourage their healthy growth and nurture your relationship with them, and you will both be grateful for the investment of time and energy.
Are you considering a private Christian school in or near Largo, FL?
The faculty and staff at Indian Rocks Christian School want to help your student achieve all of their goals for the new school year. Learn more about IRCS and the difference a Christian education can make.