How to Help Children with Goal Setting

“What you get by achieving your goals isn’t as important as what you

BECOME by achieving your goals”


Goal setting is a vital skill for your child to learn.  Goal setting allows children to become active participants in the learning process, empowering them to become independent learners, and motivating them to achieve their full potential.

The process of setting goals allows children to choose where they want to go in school and what they want to achieve. By identifying this, they know what they have to concentrate on and improve. Goal setting gives students long-term vision and short-term motivation.

Children who set their own learning goals have more confidence to take on more challenging tasks, regardless of their ability. Their motivation to improve and master a task is boosted and their self-esteem remains strong, even in the case of failure.  Planning what to do, monitoring progress towards achieving it and evaluating the outcome, can help your child take more control over their thinking and learning processes and equip them with learning to learn skills.

By setting goals students can:

  • Improve their academic performance
  • Increase their motivation to achieve
  • Increase pride and satisfaction in performance
  • Improve their self-confidence

There are many ways you can help your child set goals. 

Express goals positively: “To improve my spelling” is a much better goal than “Don’t spell with so many mistakes.

Set Priorities: When your child has several goals, give each one a priority. This helps them avoid feeling overwhelmed and helps their attention to the more important ones.    

Keep Immediate Goals Small: Urge your child to keep their immediate goals small and achievable.  A realistic plan does not only include a set timeline and end date, but also "mini" goals to reach along the way.

Set Goals Your Child Has Control Over: There is nothing worse than failing to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your child’s control.  Speaking to teachers will help you gain a good idea of realistic expectations which you can share with your child. This will enable you both to set achievable goals, tailored specifically to your child and not the needs or abilities of others.

Set specific measurable goals: If your child consistently fails to meet a measurable goal, then they can adjust it or analyse the reason for failure and take appropriate action.  The key to achieving many goals is persevering when things appear to go wrong. Help children to push through their barriers over certain tasks by setting realistic goals for what they can achieve. Developing a 'solution-focused' approach to their learning will ensure they have the staying power to see goals through to the end.

By encouraging and nurturing effective goal-setting behaviour from a young age, you can shape the rest of your child's life.  Remember, it is never too late to start!  

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