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Back to school series: Setting academic goals for the New Year

By Tammy Kong on 14/01/2022

Back to school series: Setting academic goals for the New Year

Setting academic goals can set the tone and expectations right for the rest of the academic year. Exploring goal setting with your child is a great way to instill a growth mindset: when your children see that they can achieve a manageable goal through their efforts, they learn to persevere and that overcoming challenges along the way can lead to larger successes. 

As it turns out, there are studies highlighting the importance of goal-setting where they concluded that an individual is 42% more likely to achieve his goals if he writes them down himself. Neuropsychologists call this the “generation effect” and have found that people can better recall information that they have created themselves than for something that they have read. 

Aside from helping them achieve their goals, goal-setting also benefits children in multiple ways, as listed below: 

  1. Improving self-image
  2. Increasing awareness of one’s strengths
  3. Increasing awareness of one’s weaknesses
  4. Providing an experience of success
  5. Facilitating effective visualization
  1. Encouraging prioritization
  2. Building responsibility for one’s self
  3. Improving decision making 

To begin, turn your child’s goal into a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. For example, if your child’s goal is to build his Mother Tongue vocabulary, a SMART version of it could be: Every week, I will go to the library to borrow 2 Mother Tongue related books and make a list of all the new vocabulary learned at the end of every week.

The SMART guidelines could be used: 

Specific – What exactly do I want to happen?

Measurable – How will I know when I am reaching my goal?

Actionable – What actions will I take to achieve my goal?

Realistic – Why is my goal important and what plan will I follow to reach it?

Timely – When will I reach my goal?

Once the goals are ready, have your child write them on a clean sheet of paper and tape the final version to a place where they can view their goal daily. 

As a bonding activity, parents are encouraged to be involved and set their own personal goals as well! Along the way, help your child to see that it is perfectly fine to tweak their goal after reviewing their progress. 

Parents can provide prompts such as:

  • What actions have you taken this week toward achieving your goal?
  • Are you closer to reaching your goal than you were one week ago?
  • As you work towards your goal, do you still feel it’s important to you? Is there anything you want to change about your goal? 

Lastly, parents may be their child’s only (or most important) cheerleaders so remember to celebrate together when your child achieves his/her goals!