It’s that time again. First quarter grades are almost out and this could set the tone for the rest of the year. Is your child doing well? One scenario is that you think so, based on his/her progress report and what you’ve seen come home or posted online. The second scenario is that you think not. Either your child consistently struggles or just seems to be having a tough year so far. Either way, it’s important that you sit down with your child and discuss what goals you have collectively, and how you both plan on achieving them.

Notice that I am talking about collective goals, or goals that are important to both you and your child. Often times these are different. For example, your child may want to get grades good enough to be in the school chorus, while you may want him/her to get at least straight B’s. Notice these goals are similar in that they are both grade driven, yet they both have very different parameters.

The first thing you need to do when setting school goals is to be specific and realistic. As given in the above example, your grade goal is more specific, all B’s. Your child’s goal is just to be able to get in the school chorus. Both are realistic, yet the child’s goals lacks specifics. You can help them to determine exactly what grade point average they will need in order to attain this goal, if it is what you agree upon mutually.

The second thing to consider is your mindset. As a parent, you may have some lofty goals for your children. There is nothing wrong with How to Set Goals this. But, try to consider your child as an individual, their specific talents and struggles. It may be that you find out you are expecting too much, or they are expecting too little. Just be willing to recognize the difference. Make sure your goals are attainable. The last thing you want to do is set a goal too high. If your child feels they can never reach the goal, they may stop trying altogether. Conversely, if you make your goals too general or low, your child may surpass them within the first week. Don’t worry, if this happens, you can always sit down again with your child and set new goals. Remember, this is a process and takes some practice.

Finally, try to keep your goals in the present. By focusing on what will be happening 5-10 years from now, you lose the ability to embrace the day. This is not to say that you cannot have long term goals, as you absolutely can. Just don’t make them a persistent target. Sometimes this can overwhelm both you and your child. By concentrating on what you can achieve today or by the end of the quarter, you take some of the pressure off. Keep your end goal in mind certainly, but have more timely goals in place as well.

In short, today’s children experience a variety of different types of pressures and expectations. It’s not uncommon for parents of kindergarten aged children to already have college plans. Additionally, kids today face many social pressures. In setting early school goals, you can help ease some of the burden. When children have a clear understanding of what is expected and are able to consistently work towards an established goal, they are less likely to feel anxious and overwhelmed.