Do you have a growth chart marking the height of your child every few months? I recall my mother waking me up as a child every year on my birthday to look at myself in the mirror. She would make a fuss over me becoming stronger and taller. As a young kid, I enjoyed the attention and it caused me to want to eat healthier food in order to grow more the following year. Children love to be celebrated and to see themselves growing. This applies not only physically, but also to academic goals.
Children can, at times, feel like there is no end to education. There is always another book, another day at school, and another lesson. On top of it all, there are bullies, chores at home, and an overall lack of motivation to keep going. This article will cover suggestions for having a balanced view of academic growth, as well as how to help your child achieve their academic goals.
Talk With a Guidance Counselor
It is wise to invest time into finding out where your child is academically and what some realistic short and long-term goals are for your child specifically. No two people are the same, so please don’t compare your child to someone else of a similar age, or even to a sibling.
Have you ever taken a personality test that is supposed to direct you into your future career? Imagine that you are extremely introverted and love to spend afternoons working on math problems. How would you fare if you were forced by well-meaning parents into a career of entertainment and art? Every day would probably be exhausting for you and you may resent them for not recognizing your skills in math and your need to be alone with your thoughts.
This is why it is important to set realistic goals with the help of someone who can see where your child’s strengths are, and who is also willing to listen to your child’s interests and ideas. It’s always a good idea to include your child in this discussion, to see what subjects are interesting to them.
You have a general goal in mind. Now what? Change it from a generalized goal to a specific and detailed goal. For example, if the goal is to be on the honor roll, how could you make that goal more specific?
You might add details as to how many points are needed by a certain date. Write down what options of extra-credit are available, how many after school tutoring sessions you’ll have access to, and determine when you’ll set aside time for extra study and extra rest before important exams.
Being specific will help you and your child make an actionable plan to work towards those academic goals.
Countdowns & Milestones
Being in a car on a long road trip can be exhausting. What helps it to be less painful? You may find it helpful to have snacks, good music, planned stops, and a countdown of how much longer until you’ll arrive at your destination.
Likewise, creating a visual aide showing how much longer until the quarter is over or how close you are to the next reward can be the motivation needed to reach the next short-term goal on a long and sometimes difficult journey.
Let’s say you and your child have decided upon the reachable goal of devoting X-minutes every night to reading a specific book. Have your child write down or draw the reward on a bookmark kept with the book, along with a time log for daily reading. If a day is missed, the next day the time must be doubled.
When the goal is met, then they may have a reward. The rewards should depend on the goals met, and should be something that your child will enjoy. It could be a family game night with treats, or a free pass on doing a dreaded household chore.
Supervision & Teamwork
While children are able to do somethings on their own, loving parental guidance is still required. Instead of just enforcing the rules, those in authority need to take a personal interest in what’s happening. Is your child falling behind because of a lack of understanding? Did something happen at school to cause a distraction before a test? Do the goals need to be re-evaluated?
Oftentimes, students want to learn, but sometimes things get in the way of a deep understanding of the subject. Not every goal will be met, and not every subject will be learned well. Show your child that you are on their team. Look for ways that you can help and patiently encourage and educate your child. Show them that falling behind is not a reason to stop. And that mistakes and failures are simply part of the journey.
Encourage growth through setting realistic academic goals, but also encourage the kind of confidence and self worth that will stick with your child for a lifetime.