Goal setting for the new school year

School starts tomorrow for my 2nd and 5th graders. It’s all virtual, and I’m fully prepared for it to be challenging, exciting, and more about adapting and growing as people than actually learning what they’re supposed to.

To prepare them for this new season, my husband and I took them out to dinner last week for a real grownup meal and some goal setting. My daughter and I wore dresses, and I let her have mascara. My son wore a tie and khaki pants, and they both looked so adorable. And since none of us have been remotely dressy since at least March, it was fun to do!

The first learning opportunity of the evening was actually getting dressed, putting on deodorant and taking pride in our appearance. I chose restaurant with cloth napkins and the kids learned how to unroll their silverware and place the napkin in their laps. The looked over the menu and decided what they wanted and what appetizers we should start with.

Napkins in laps and getting ready to order!

All day leading up to dinner, we were all supposed to be thinking about some of our goals, and throughout dinner, we discussed them. When Ryan said his goal was “to read better,” we explained SMART goals and encouraged him to think about how he could become a better reader and what could he accomplish if he was a better reader. In the end, his reading goal was a daily reading time and he wanted to be able to read a specific book by the end of the school year (one that dad and I currently read to him).

They each set 2 school goals and 3 personal goals, and Josh and I each set 4-5 goals too. We focused on things we wanted to accomplish by the end of the calendar year.

A few tips for doing your own goal setting:

  1. Plan in advance: I let the kids know about a week in advance that we were going out to a fancy dinner to discuss our goals for the school year and everything they wanted to accomplish. Then each day I reminded them and asked them to be thinking about their goals. (They still came to dinner with basically nothing, but at least it was on their radar all week.)
  2. Come prepared: I brought each person their own notepad and pen. My second grader has terrible penmanship and can’t spell, so I wrote his out myself, but he still got his own pad at the dinner table.
  3. Provide guidance: What makes something a good goal? What is going to make them really proud at the end of the year? If the goal is to “read better” or “memorize math facts” then what does it take to do that? Be specific and measurable with their goals.
  4. Set goals with them: My husband set a goal of spending 2 hours individually every week with each kid, and they could plan how to use that time. They were thrilled, and they’ll be sure to hold him to that one, which gives him the freedom to do the same with their goals. My daughter is always interested in going for morning runs with me, so we set a goal that she could come twice a week with me. That holds both of us accountable and gives us time together.
  5. Keep them visible: As with any goal, if you don’t keep it top of mind, it won’t get met. Print them out, put them on posterboard, discuss them at dinner every weekend. Anything to keep it front and center for your kids and yourself.
  6. And finally, have fun and add in some rewards. One of my daughter’s goals is around baking every week. She really wants a stand mixer like she’s seen on Nailed It. I told her that if she met her goal and showed me she really did love baking (by actually doing it for the next 9 months!) and she made Honor Roll this year, then we could get one.

Let me know if you try it with your family! I’d love to hear what kind of goals you’ve set. And you can follow along this year with my family to see if we’re achieving what we’ve set out to do!

Published by Ashley Adams

Author, former single mom, lover of Cherry Coke Zero and Taylor Swift. Here to coach and support and love on women in challenging relationships.

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