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One of the best habits you can instil in your children is to set realistic and tangible goals. With the ultimate goal-setting period coming up, here are a couple of suggestions to make your kids think in a bit more detail about their resolutions, and make them more tangible.
Ever heard your kids mention ‘S.M.A.R.T. Goals’? S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals ensures your child’s satisfaction when the achievable goal has been met. While such goals are usually linked to study, they are also extremely helpful in managing wider responsibilities, such as household chores, maintaining a healthy diet, and nurturing one’s own wellbeing.
As parents, caregivers or teachers, it is all too easy to give your child or adolescent well-intentioned albeit vague advice or instruction. By setting clear, concise and realistic S.M.A.R.T. Goals, your child (of any age) will benefit during the upcoming goal-setting period.
Goal: Eat 2 pieces of fruit at lunch
Help your child prosper academically by making healthy eating a family affair!
It is imperative kids are offered fruit throughout the day, says Everyday Health, as Vitamin C is not naturally made by the body. Vitamin C’s benefits for improved focus have been proven through various findings, one being an in-depth study published in 2017’s September edition of ‘Nutrients’. The study found that cognitively intact participants maintained high levels of Vitamin C in their diets, compared to those who were regularly consuming little to no Vitamin C, resulting in impaired cognition.
Aiming to eat just two pieces of fruit a day forgoes that foggy feeling we’ve all endured at some point, and helps your child to focus on their teacher’s or tutor’s instructions, and to complete schoolwork to the best of their ability.
Vitamin C can be found in a variety of fruits such as strawberries, oranges and kiwifruit – perfect for a mid-morning or lunchtime snack, when your brain is most likely to need a healthy boost.
But there is no reason why parents can’t partake in this simple act, too. Vitamin C-rich vegetables such as broccoli, capsicum and snow peas can also be added to the family dinner. And while you’re at it, why not add a little avocado or egg to the weekly menu? Healthline writes that the consumption of folic acid through natural ingredients such as these assists with the promotion of brain health and functions such as verbal IQ and overall improved cognition.
Such a diet consideration is not only pleasant to the palate, but an example of a S.M.A.R.T. Goal the whole family can partake in.
Goal: Do the washing up 3 times a week
It is all too easy to sigh, scold or roll our eyes when a child skips their chores – again. By a certain age, our growing kids are capable of performing household chores without adult instruction; however, there is a hack to getting them there faster.
S.M.A.R.T. Goals apply to all facets of life – one being the ability to maintain self-discipline. Next time you ask your child to “help out around the house”, ask yourself, “does my child understand what this entails?”
Make sure your instructions are Specific and Time-Based. Examples of this may include: Make your bed when you wake up; feed the dog at 5pm; or wash-up after dinner. Your child will know your exact expectations, including by what time the request should be accomplished. Tasks not completed on time invite a calm and reasonable discussion as to why it wasn’t done.
Until the new routine sets in, keep giving gentle reminders, and with your child’s help, develop a visual planner to stick in a prominent position (such as the refrigerator door). Encourage your child to tick off the chores once they are done. Not only do kids benefit from visual reminders, they feel a sense of achievement with every tick or sticker placed on the chart, knowing another goal has been met.
This method applies not only to the family household, but classrooms too. Teachers, educators and online tutors, have you ever taught a student that forgets their books, pencils, calculators, or homework? Helping to create an appealing visual S.M.A.R.T. Goal page in a school or online diary benefits the child, and encourages better focus.
Goals for students with specific needs in the classroom can include but are not limited to: Pack PE kit on Monday night; Read Assessment Schedule twice a week; or Check pencil case is packed after every lesson.
Goal: Study for 1 Hour Every Weekday
Most children attend school five days a week for seven or more hours a day. Many attend Before and After School Care facilities, sometimes extending their school day to a whopping twelve hours. To then hear “you need to study more” or “you need to watch less TV” can be exhausting, overwhelming and quite simply feel impossible.
Kids, like adults, get tired – both physically and mentally. While our bodies need sleep at night so as to function well the next day, so too do our brains need a break from study.
Studying over multiple sessions, for shorter periods of time while using active study strategies is one of the most impactful ways to absorb information, says The Learning Center. Further, it has been suggested through multiple studies that studying for hours on end can in fact overwhelm the individual and lead to procrastination.
By setting an Achievable goal of one hour of study per day, your child is likely to improve their study regime, and ultimately their academic performance. Additionally, by helping kids to set a Time-Bound goal most suited to their personal preference (e.g. a mid-morning study period with motivating friends, or after school before the family arrives home), students are more likely to willingly stick to their routine and improve their self-directed learning.
Goal: Read for 30 Minutes before bed
Reading in bed was once a common activity for people of all ages; however, since Mobiles and Smart Phones became more accessible, kids and adults are now more likely to scroll and swipe a glowing screen before nodding off at night. However, this has dire effects on the mind and body, which carry through to a child’s ability to learn effectively.
Avoiding light-emitting technology for at least one hour before bed is essential to a good night’s sleep, says Robert Rosenberg, author of ‘Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day’. While this also includes e-Readers such as the Kindle, if your child is a booklover and reads best using one of these devices, encourage them to hold it 14 inches from their face, with the brightness turned down.
For most bedtime readers, a simple book light or lamp will suffice, as they reach for that fantasy, humour or adventure novel. Reading something unrelated to daytime study is vital to helping a child’s mind relax, and according to a study conducted by the University of Sussex, reading for even six minutes before sleep can significantly reduce stress levels. Not only that, reading fiction in particular provides escapism and distracts a child from anything unpleasant that may have happened that day.
By setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals with your child or student that focus on their overall wellbeing as opposed to just the academic achievements, they are presented with the opportunity to become responsible for their own learning, and feel a sense of accomplishment with every goal reached. By building confidence in this way and establishing positive lifestyle practises, kids are more likely to become self-directed in their study habits at school, at home and at their tutoring centre – becoming better learners overall.
The Learning Center
Robert Rosenberg, author
University of Sussex study