The start of the academic year is an exciting time and, to me, it feels like an even better time to get a fresh start than the start of a new calendar year. While that might make me a bit odd, I’m not alone. Author Gretchen Rubin has said that she sees the start of a new school year the same way, and that’s the reason she started her Happiness Project, which led to the best-selling book of the same name, in September. She calls September the new January.
Following that train of thought, why not follow some of the traditions that come with Jan. 1 but do it when your child is heading back to school? A new year, be it calendar, academic, fiscal or otherwise, is a great time to make resolutions.
Resolutions may not always stick, but they are a great way to frame goals, and tweens in particular are at an age when learning to set goals is important. They are (slowly) gaining the ability to focus on the long-term, but it’s far from easy for them and they could use some help.
Setting new school year’s resolutions has the added bonus of already firm dates and ways to measure progress. Grading periods are regular and known and produce quantifiable data. Teacher conferences are already on the school calendar.
To help make your school year’s resolutions as successful as possible, do these three things.
1. Make them specific. Items like “do well” or “get good grades” or even “study hard” are vague. Help your child specifically pinpoint what he/she wants to do. Is it master a certain subject? Improve on last year’s spelling tests? Get a certain level of grades? Practice a band instrument for X amount of time each week?
2. Write them down. Actually, have your child write them down. Post them somewhere prominent where they are easily seen on a regular basis.
3. Spell out specific steps to reach those goals. Tweens are not exactly known as sticklers for details, and figuring out exactly how to reach goals is the area in which they could use the most help. Walk them through what needs to be done to get to where they want to be? Also, be open to revising the steps as you get more information from teachers and have a better idea of what the year will look like.
4. Pick a reward on which you both agree. Having something fun to work towards can be a powerful motivator and serve as positive reinforcement.
5. Model for them. Are there any resolutions that you can make at the start of this school year? Maybe there are there books you want to read? Or projects to finish before the holidays? Anything will work.
If you don’t like the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, you may like this post, Questions to ask your child for the new year, as another way of helping your child frame his/her path and where he/she would like to go once school is back in session.