A wise woman once told me “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Last week, you will have seen your child’s Semester 1 report published. This provides an important opportunity for families to reflect together about the learning and achievements from the year so far and most importantly, to make plans for the next steps in your child’s learning. Goal setting is an important part of any learner’s journey, whether they be children or adult learners. When setting goals, it is important to consider the strategies that will need to be put in place, the important stepping stones, that will help your child to achieve success.
When engaging in reflective conversations with your children, particularly after a reporting period, I encourage you to consider the recommendations from your child’s teacher regarding the goals and strategies in order for continued growth to occur. Learning goals should always consider both academic achievement and work habits, as improving both will lead to greater outcomes in the future. By this stage of the term, your child’s teachers will have set goals with each child during class time and I encourage you to speak to your child about their goals.
During class goal setting lessons, we use the SMART model. This ensures that goals are:
When setting SMART goals, teachers carefully model and guide students to set their goals. It is important for students to understand that, in order to set a Specific goal, it will need to focus on a particular skill, understanding or behaviour. We would never encourage students to focus on the outcome (for example: a grade, a reading level or being placed in a particular maths or reading group). All too often, I hear children say, “my goal is to get an A in maths.” By setting a goal based on an outcome, children have not identified what they need to improve and therefore, cannot implement appropriate strategies to achieve success. It is important to remember that grades improve as a result of an improvement of skills, knowledge or understanding. For example, if a child’s goal is to infer meaning and make connections with their own experiences when reading, this will improve their comprehension. As a result, this may lead to the child achieving a higher reading level.
When speaking with your child about their goals for the term, ensure you also ask your child about their goal to improve their work habits, as these are equally important and are the building blocks for success in the future. Knowing how to be resilient, persevere, show initiative, focus and manage time wisely are all skills that adults need draw upon everyday in a multitude of situations. Developing these skills, along with good study habits, will help enable your child to become a lifelong learner.
I thank you for supporting your child by continuing these conversations at home and helping your child to reflect upon their learning.
Deputy Head of Junior School: Teaching and Learning