Effective goal setting is a crucial skill for children to learn: after all, research suggests that 92% of people don’t attain their goals. One of the best ways to approach goal-setting is to use the SMART method. Once children understand how to use this mechanism – which breaks goals down into accessible chunks – they will be able to apply it to other areas of their life, helping them refine their ideas, maximise focus and concentration, and making their dreams seem more manageable.
SMART is actually an acronym – it stands for specific; measurable; achievable; relevant; and time. Here’s how it works:
It’s much more likely that your child will respond well to a goal they’ve set themselves, rather than something you dictate to them. With this in mind, it’s important to spend some time together discussing what they want to achieve – even if your wish is that they focus on something very specific (like revising for the 11+!).
Use action words and be as clear as possible when setting out your goal. Ambiguity is the enemy, here. If the prize is to get into a certain grammar school, spell that out; or, break it into small, specific goals, like completing a certain number of practice papers. Setting specific aims can be really motivating for children and also gives them something to look forward to – the completion of the task!
How can you make it measurable?
It’s important for your child to understand how they’ll know they’ve achieved their target – so do be sure to consider what they can measure their progress against. Tick charts can be really useful; or apps that allow you to set timers or mark progress in other ways.
Is it achievable?
Being specific with goal setting helps with the achievability aspect, but it’s important to be really strict with yourself on this. The goal can’t be too hard or too easy – either can be demotivating or demoralising. Pick something that is challenging but not out of their reach – then, if there’s a bigger, more complex goal you want them to tackle, they can move onto that once they’ve had the boost of achieving something else.
What is the relevance?
Each task should be relevant to the overall goal. For example, if the aim is to get into a certain school, you’ll want to focus on the activities that will improve their skills/aptitude to the level that is required. Though it can be tempted to focus on tangential things, it’s best to be really targeted in your approach.
How much time do they have to achieve their goal?
Though setting a deadline can sometimes feel like an additional pressure, it’s actually vital. Not only does it help your child develop discipline and time management skills, having a realistic deadline to work towards will help improve their focus and motivation no end. You may need to help more than you anticipate with this element of SMART goal-setting to begin with, as they may need reminders and encouragement to stay on track – and also your insight as to what deadline is both necessary and achievable.
Whether your child wants to win a place at a top London school or needs help acing their GCSEs, Mentor Education are here to help. We’ll devise a bespoke strategy to suit your needs, taking into account your child’s strengths, weaknesses and personality, to ensure they’re able to reach their full potential. Get in touch today to learn more about our unique approach.