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How to Teach Goal Setting

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How to Teach Goal Setting

Rebecca Brown-Wright

Some kids are self-motivated to learn new things and find new interests. Others are self-motivated only when it comes to making time to watch their favorite shows. Whether you have a child that fits into the former or the latter category, all kids could benefit from learning how to set goals.

Summer is a great time for learning this skill. Without the school bell tolling their days, kids have more freedom to explore what's important to them. Are they interested in art, sports, music, languages, cooking, mechanics? Help them set goals so they'll be productive and continue to pursue their interests throughout the summer.

Make it Specific

One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting goals is forgetting to make it specific. Without a specific understanding of what it will look like once the goal is reached, how can you ever know if you've attained your goal?

If you make the goal specific, there will be no question.

"I want to learn how to swim" is pretty vague and open to interpretation. To your child, it might mean simply being able to get to the deep end of the pool and back (in any form), while you might expect your child to know a few strokes as well as rescue techniques. 

Set goals that are specific and not open to interpretation. And give deadlines.

  • Instead of: "I want to become a better reader this summer," try: "I will read X amount of books from the 4th grade reading list before August 20."
  • Instead of: "I want to learn how to cook," try: "By August 1st, I will have made these specific recipes from this specific cookbook without help from Mom and Dad."

Make Sure the Goal Isn't Out of Reach

Sometimes our kids' eyes are bigger than their tummies. Sometimes their fantasies are unreachable. Expectations don't always match up with reality. Take a good look at the goals your child is setting, and rein him in if necessary.

Does he think he should learn to dunk the basketball, even though he hasn't grown since January? Guide him to a better, more achievable goal: "Practice your layups until you can get past Dad and make a basket."

Take a look at your own expectations for your kids as well. Is your chore expectation reasonable? Do you expect levels of music and sports ability that are far beyond what your child can do at this point?

Can it Be Completed in a Reasonable Amount of Time?

Summer is over in a flash. Camps, sports, swimming lessons, beach days... they make those glorious, sunny days fly by. Remember that your child will have less than three months to work on goals. And because summer is a less structured time, it's easy for things to fall by the wayside. 

Set goals that can be completed in 6 to 8 weeks to give your child a buffer if an impromptu camping trip comes up to derail goal progression. 

And set goal tasks into your Brili routine to keep everyone on task. If your teenager wants to learn that ridiculously hard Beethoven sonata, schedule in an hour of piano practice every day. If your 7-year-old wants to read the first two Harry Potters, schedule in 45 minutes of reading each day.

Offer Rewards

Rewards make everything sweeter. Ask your child what she would really like. You may think she'd be motivated by a trip to an amusement park, but maybe she prefers presents over experiences -- and would rather have a set of calligraphy pens or a new volleyball net.

Maybe your son just wants to hang out with the family, and would work hard if a fishing trip was scheduled at the completion of a goal. Spend some time learning your child's love language to find some enticing rewards to offer.

Did you know that Brili allows kids to earn stars as they beat the clock during their routines? Incorporate their Brili star points into their goal-reaching reward, and watch your children flourish as they step up to responsibility.