Making goals is a skill I latched on to early in my life. Pretty much as soon as I could spell and write. My journals were filled with lists of goals and boys I liked. You can tell I still didn’t have my priorities straight but at least I was organized and knew what I wanted. Throughout my life, I’ve continued to create lists of goals, including my bucket list. It’s the way I feed myself and find my center. It’s almost like meditation. Now that I’m a mom a school aged child, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to teach her how to live intentionally by setting goals. It can be a difficult concept to teach, especially to a six year old, but it is possible.
Create a dialogue
The first time I introduced the idea of setting goals with my daughter, it was the day after her sixth birthday. We were coloring at the dining table when I asked her, “So now that you are six, what do you want to do?” She looked at me with excitement in her eyes and asked, “You mean now that I am six I can do whatever I want?” I had to laugh but then quickly back peddled, “Not exactly. Now that you are six you can handle the responsibility of trying new things and it’s a great time to learn new things more inline with your age.”
After nearly eight questions of “What does xyz mean?” we had a list of six things she wanted to do or learn during the age of six. I’m proud to report that she has successfully accomplished three of the six. Every once is awhile we stop to look at her list, which we keep in my phone and on her bedroom wall. It helps her keep the goals in the front of her mind and also fuels the fire by seeing the goals she’s already accomplished crossed off.
She’s starting first grade this year (man, time zooms by). School has been a struggle for her so I decided to talk to her about setting some school goals, specific to the school year. The conversation was a little different this time, but it did help to have the first conversation to call back to. It’s important to have a dialogue about goals prior to doing it for school. Mostly because kids get excited about doing things, school can sometimes be a hard sell. Lay the foundation first with fun stuff and use it as a call back when setting goals for school.
I followed Nike’s lead on this one, except I left off the infamous “just”. When my daughter and I were talking about her school goals, I used D.O. I.T. as a tool to help her remember how to set goals. It’s something I started doing in high school and enjoy using this method when I’m creating new goals.
The discovery period is full of questions. You want to get to the heart of why or what you want to achieve. Sometimes that even means figuring out what you don’t want and why. During this stage, you will also look at needs and improvements. Sometimes goals are necessary. You will come across this a lot when creating school goals. Raising a F to a C is a necessary goal to make sure your child passes the grade level or class. It’s important to also recognize where your child is doing well. While goals are great, if approached from the stand point of “we need to create goals because your grades are down,” you will likely set the tone that your child doesn’t have any achievements to be proud about. When you review achievements, you are telling your child that they can accomplish their goals. They’ve accomplished something before and can do it again. Let your child identify their own accomplishments. If they are having a hard time coming up with the first one, you can help them, but make sure you only supply one or two. They need to learn to identify accomplishments on their own.
Once you’ve completed the discovery stage, you can start to organize the information. Are there categories that pop out? Academics, Friends/Relationships, Extracurricular activities, etc. Start to group some of the wants, needs, and improvements into categories. By categorizing your discoveries, you will be able to easily complete the next step.
Now that you have categories established, you can start to identify the goals your child can work on this school year. Depending on your child’s age, you will want to aim for 1-2 goals per category. Too many goals can overwhelm anyone.
If you have more than five categories, make sure to not exceed 10 goals. More goals can be added as other goals are accomplished. Once they start accomplishing some of their goals they are going to want to accomplish more. It’s such a good feeling.
The best way your child can gain a supportive community is to tell people about their goals. Tell friends, teachers, and family. Tell the cashier at the grocery store. Tell everyone. I know I’d rally behind a child who told me their goals. What about you?
Now you’ve completed the D.O. I.T. goal setting method. Display the goals somewhere visible to your child. Some place they will see them. Like I mentioned, I also put my daughters list in my phone. It allows me to look at it when I’m not with her and helps remind me that I should do my part to help her. Accomplishing goals feels amazing and so does helping someone else, especially your child.
My gift to you
Blank pieces of paper work fine but I’ve put together some worksheets for you to use while helping your child create their school goals. Hold on to them for reference throughout the year. It’s great to look back to where they started and see how far they made it this school year.
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