Goal Setting with Elementary Students

Specific Steps to Teach Students How to Set Goals

Goal setting is an important life skill that students need to learn.
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With the start of the new school year upon us, it is the perfect time to have your students begin school by learning how to set positive goals. Setting goals is an important life skill that all elementary students need to know. While the students may still be a bit to young to think about what college they want to go to, or the career they may want to have, it's never to late to teach them the importance of setting, and achieving a goal.

Here are a few tips to help your elementary students learn to set goals.

Define What a "Goal" Means

Elementary students may think the word "goal" means when you are referring to a sporting event. So, the first thing that you want to do is have students brainstorm what they think setting a "goal" means. You can use the reference of a sporting event to help you. For example, you can tell the students that when an athlete makes a goal, the "goal" is the result of their hard work. You can also have students look up the meaning in the dictionary. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word goal as “something that you are trying to do or achieve.”

Teach the Importance of Goal Setting

Once you have taught your elementary students the meaning of the word, now it's time to teach the importance of setting goals. Discuss with your students that setting goals helps you become more confident in yourself, helps you make better decisions in your life, and gives you motivation.

Ask students to think about a time that they had to sacrifice something that they really loved, for an even better outcome. You can give them an example if they are unsure. For instance, you can say:

I really like to get a coffee and a donut before work everyday but it can get really expensive. I want to surprise my children and take them on a family vacation, so I need to give up my morning routine in order to save money to do that.

This example is showing your students that you have given up something that you really liked, for an even better outcome. It explains how powerful setting goals and achieving them can really be. By giving up your morning routine of coffee and donuts, you were able to save enough money to take your family on a vacation.

Teach Students How to Set Realistic Goals

Now that students understand the meaning of a goal, as well as the importance of setting goals, now it's time to actually set a few realistic goals. Together as a class, brainstorm a few goals that you think are realistic. For example, students may say "My goal is to get a better grade on my math test this month." Or "I will strive to complete all of my homework assignments by Friday." By helping your students set small, achievable goals that can be achieved quickly, you will help them understand the process of setting and achieving a goal. Then, once they grasp this concept you can have them set even bigger goals. Have students focus on which goals are most important (make sure they are measurable, achievable, as well as specific).

Develop a Method to Achieve the Goal

Once students have chosen their specific goal that they want to achieve, the next step is to show them how they are going to achieve it.

You can do this by showing students the following step-by-step procedure. For this example the students' goal is to pass their spelling test.

Step 1: Do all spelling homework

Step 2: Practice spelling words each day after school

Step 3: Practice spelling worksheets each day

Step 4: Play spelling games or go on the Spellingcity.com app

Step 5: Get an A+ on my spelling test

Make sure that students have a visual reminder of their goal. It is also wise that you have a daily or weekly meeting with each student to see how their goals are developing. Once they achieve their goal, it's time to celebrate! Make a big deal out of it, this way it will want them to make even bigger goals in the future.

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Cox, Janelle. "Goal Setting with Elementary Students." ThoughtCo, Sep. 10, 2015, thoughtco.com/goal-setting-with-elementary-students-2081334. Cox, Janelle. (2015, September 10). Goal Setting with Elementary Students. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/goal-setting-with-elementary-students-2081334 Cox, Janelle. "Goal Setting with Elementary Students." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/goal-setting-with-elementary-students-2081334 (accessed September 21, 2017).