See It; Achieve It!
Goal Setting for the New School Year
By Dr. Raymond J. Huntington
After several weeks of summer vacation, your child should be heading back to school rested and determined to make the most of his or her potential. As a parent or guardian, you can facilitate this mindset by setting goals in each of the areas that are so important to academic achievement. Here are some suggestions:
GOAL ONE: Raise the bar
If your child earned “B”s and “C”s last year, set a goal to earn all “A”s and “B”s this year. In most schools, this GPA level will qualify for the honor roll and signify that your child is performing at grade level, and is well-prepared for increasingly difficult work. If your child is already an “A/B” student, set a goal to earn all “A”s and do everything possible to help achieve that goal. If your child struggled last year and ended up with “C”s and “D”s, talk with teachers right now about the subject areas that proved most troublesome so they can shape their instruction and find the extra help your child will need.
GOAL TWO: Create and stick to a firm study schedule
From the beginning of the school year to the end, study time should be part of your child’s daily schedule. This should be a certain period of time, every weekday and one day on the weekend, when your son or daughter completes homework, prepares for tests and engages in “free-choice” learning to explore special learning interests and aptitudes. Keeping on schedule tends to be easiest if this period is the same time each day of the week, with more flexibility on the weekends.
Effective sequencing will make this time more productive. Homework assignments should be completed first. Studying for upcoming exams – including those scheduled for the next day or in the next week or so – should come next.
GOAL THREE: An extracurricular boost
While academics should always be job number one, extracurricular activities can also expand your child’s learning horizons and strengthen the impression he or she will make on college admissions applications. Reading groups, language clubs, political campaigns, academic competitions and volunteer projects can extend your child’s natural aptitudes and interests and pack a lot more learning into the day. These activities can also lead to stronger friendships and connections to your school and community, which can give your son or daughter a stronger sense of well-being and purpose.
GOAL FOUR: Maintain a can-do attitude
Your child’s self-esteem can be a very big factor in social and academic success, and students who truly believe in their abilities are in a better position to overcome bad test scores and master especially difficult coursework. You can foster this self-esteem by showing how much you value your son or daughter’s hard-work and accomplishments. When your child gets a bad grade, position it as a temporary setback, not a failure, as long as he or she learns from the experience, and make sure that major successes are acknowledged from the beginning of the year to the very end.
Dr. Raymond J. Huntington is co-founder of Huntington Learning Center, which has helped children achieve success in school for over 28 years.