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6 Goals to Set for the New School Year

School is just one phase of life—a long and sometimes difficult one. These six goals for the new school year will help your kids build happy lives that they love living.

Setting clear and achievable goals with your family can pave the way for a fulfilling and successful school year ahead. From academic excellence to family development, these six goals will help you and your kids get through the long school year and will set your kids up for a lifetime of success and happiness.

1. Eat at Least One Meal Together

The school year is a time when families are like trains going in two opposite directions. If you don’t want to just wave at each other through the windows, take some time to simply eat together: breakfast, dinner, a late-night snack—whatever you can fit into your schedule.

Eating at least one meal together during the school year will give you that quality family time that you need. You’ll be strengthening bonds, openly communicating and sharing experiences while doing something you all have to do anyway. Additionally, eating together promotes healthy eating habits, which growing kids need for a foundation of healthy living. This tradition provides a supportive environment, allowing each family member to feel valued and heard.

2. Master a Specific Subject

Whether your kid is a scholastic savant or a playground prodigy, academic excellence can be a touchy subject. Too much pressure can cause social and emotional challenges in the future. But not enough pressure can hinder academic growth and development. Setting goals for improving grades is a good way to manage and measure your kid’s academic growth. But sometimes grades don’t tell the whole story. If you’re worried about how focusing on academic grades will affect your kid’s well-being, try taking smaller steps with your child.

Instead of asking your child to raise their grades—a difficult and ambiguous task—consider asking them to pick a subject or two that they want to master (not to say that they should neglect other subjects). Work with them to turn the goal into smaller, manageable tasks, and create a study schedule to stay on track. Seek help from teachers, classmates, or tutors if needed, and review your progress regularly to see improvements over time. Staying involved in your child’s learning will be a big part of achieving this goal.

By focusing the bulk of their attention on a single subject, your kid will see success as an achievable goal and be more motivated to learn. And you will also begin to learn about the subjects they are passionate about, which will help guide them in the future. With this method, good grades will be the end result, not the goal. Mostly, your kid will learn to enjoy school and the process of learning.

3. Participate More Actively in Class

A surgeon who doesn’t perform any surgeries won’t learn the crucial skills necessary in their profession—and the same goes for students. Students who avoid participating in class will have a harder time of learning.

Whether it be raising hands, asking questions, or contributing ideas, any sort of participation will help your kid engage in the material and be attentive during lessons. However, different styles of participation are more suitable to different types of kids. For some, volunteering to write on the board sounds fun. However, to others, active listening and extensive note taking is the perfect day in class.

Take some time with your kid to discuss how they like to participate in class. Together, you can brainstorm some new ways for them to learn and engage in class, and by practicing note taking and classroom behaviors at home, you can reduce some anxiety and help your kids learn how to get the best, enriching learning experience.

4. Finish Your Homework Before Watching TV

A funny YouTube video or homework? I don’t know about you, but I would choose YouTube every time. With the increased use of technology, it’s important to set goals for responsible digital behavior during the school year. Otherwise, your kids will choose YouTube too.

It can get a little complex to try to set intricate screen time limits during the school year, especially if kids need a device for homework, so keep the goal simple: finish homework before watching TV, playing on social media, or doing anything considered fun. It’s a simple but classic rule that will motivate your kids to speed through their homework. This will not only improve their academic growth but also create responsible work habits for the future.

Of course, your kids might want a break after a long day at school (who wouldn’t?), so be prepared to work some break time into the homework time. But by encouraging your kids to put homework first, they’ll get more free time afterward. Don’t be afraid to use that as motivation!

5. For Every Book You Read at School, Read One at Home

Reading is a huge part of school. Sometimes teachers even set reading goals for their students, like a certain number of minutes or books they have to read, but this is the lowest, most conservative number. Plus, sometimes the books are really boring. If you want to foster a love for reading, set some goals with your child to read books outside of school.

You can set a goal for reading a certain number of books, exploring different genres, or finishing a classic novel. Or, you could keep it even simpler and ask them to read a book at home for every book they have to read at school. This will have them continuously reading books they love, even after reading books they maybe didn’t like so much. (Kind of like washing the taste of vegetables down with ice cream). This will also keep the learning ball rolling. Over time, your kids will improve their language skills, which will have a positive effect on their development and academics.

If your kid is more of a reluctant reader, you can adapt the goal to be more manageable for your kid’s interests and abilities. For example, read one book at home for every two at school, read one book at home a month, choose one chapter book to finish this year, and so many other variations. But if this advice hasn’t suddenly made your child a reader, consider making the reading goal a family reading goal. Your kids will feel like they’re not alone, which will motivate them to keep reading. And they’ll have somebody to ask questions and discuss the story with. This experience will be so helpful in developing academic skills and a love for learning.

The most important part is finding what makes reading a choice for your kid—not a requirement.

6. Choose One Extracurricular Activity

The school year is all school school school and no play. To avoid getting your kids stuck in a lifestyle that can be exhausting, encourage them to choose at least one extracurricular activity—a school sport or club, a community class, a service group, or a creative hobby like painting or dancing.

By having at least one thing to look forward to outside of school, your kids will get a break from the everyday grind, enhance their skills, boost their confidence, and find opportunities to make new friends with similar interests. And depending on the extracurricular, they might even learn some good physical and mental health practices. This will help them reduce stress, remain healthy, and build resilience.

Although it’s important for kids to focus on school during the school year (and even summer if we’re being honest), it’s just as important for them to indulge in their passions and talents. Because life is so much more fun when you’re doing the things you really want to be doing.

Books to Give Your Kids a Successful School Year

Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.

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