Goals, And The Setting Thereof

Lately, goal-setting has been on my mind. It's come to my attention in various settings and in various ways, marching seemingly inexorably towards my conclusions. I read about a program for preschool and kindergarten students that involves, amongst other things, having the students make a plan for their main play activity each day. In essence, the students are setting goals for what they'll do while they play. There have been a few thoughtful threads lately on the WTM boards about goal-setting and inspiring excellence.

I have a lot of goals for my kids, and I want them to have goals for themselves, as well. I don't know what the best way to achieve those goals is, and I don't know the best way to inspire the kids to set their own goals. Here's what we've attempted and will be attempting, though.

01. Weekly Goals. Most weeks on Sunday afternoon or evening, we take a legal pad and titled it "Goals for the Week." FB has two lines, EG has three, and the mister and I each have four lines, plus a varying number of lines for combined goals. In general, we suggest one goal for each of the kids, and they come up with their other goal(s). At first, we had to give them more guidance, but they do relatively well at making them. A goal cannot be something that is already expected. I.e., EG can make her goal to finish all her schoolwork by a certain (earlier than usual) time or date, but she can't just make it her goal to finish all her schoolwork. That's required already. We adults try to model a combination of goals in various areas - focused leisure activities, learning activities, reading, and extra projects to improve household life.

02. Evaluation Meetings. We've been pretty slack about doing these formally, despite our best intentions, but we do them informally from time to time. The evaluation meetings were something we devised as a way to keep the away from home parent in the know about goings-on related to school. In practice, it serves as a handy way to assess progress in a variety of areas. Progress assessment is a vital component of goal-setting.

03. What's On Your Transcript? I have set out a sample of what might be on a transcript or college application - courses, testing, extracurricular activities, awards and recognitions, and so on. From that, I've completed it, the ideal that I would like to be completing for my kids to send to colleges several years from now. I've also talked about various components of it with EG. Between now and the end of next summer, we're going to talk about each component, what she's interested in it saying when she's finished with grade twelve, and what steps are required to make that happen. Do I think the finished product will look anything like what either of us currently thinks is the ideal? No, probably not. Do I think that it's still a valuable exercise? Absolutely.

04. Short Term and Long Term Goals. One of the strengths of the Girl Scout program, in my opinion, is that there are opportunities for scaffolding in terms of goals. EG has set some goals for her time in the Junior level program. She's stalled somewhat in the completion of those goals, but that's a multifaceted issue. More specifically, though, she wants to earn the Bronze Award, which is a terrific example of setting short term goals that lead towards a longer term goal. There are multiple steps that must be completed prior to beginning a larger project. Still, the long term goal is not as distant as some, and there is a concrete reward at the end, apart from the more abstract ones.

That's the core of my thoughts. We also try to encourage goal-setting when it comes to money and where to allocate it, but we're not too consistent on distributing allowance! There's a goal for us to work on. :)


Smrt Mama said...

Allowance and money management is one area where I actually feel we do a good job with goals and planning, at least as far as the kids are concerned. Have you read Clark Smart Parents, Clark Smart Kids? It's Clark Howard's book on helping kids develop a healthy relationship with money, budgeting, etc. Jon got a lot of good ideas out of there, though it's best to ignore Clark's complete miserliness.

Daisy said...

I really like this! Definitely going to introduce some goal-setting with my children. My daughter will thrive with it. My son...well, let's just hope it gives him a bit more focus (sigh).

Julia said...

Those are some good ideas. I'm curious to know more about What's On Your Transcript. Are you saying you have a sample transcript that you use as an ideal, and then EG comes up with her own ideas of what she would like on hers? I'd love to see more details.


Kash said...

@Julia - I have an ideal, yes. It's probably a little closer to a college application or a resume, in that I've included a section for extracurriculars and awards, etc. Right now, since EG is still pretty young, we talk about what might be on there for different people (luckily we know someone going through the process this year, so we can reference her!). The main thing we've talked about so far is math and science courses. EG is really interested in accelerating her science so she can do all four AP science courses.

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