With 2022 just around the corner, many will be thinking about the resolutions they will make - and aim to keep - in the year ahead. For those with children it can be fun to choose resolutions that you can work on together. Goals related to education can be a wonderful place to start and taking time to discuss with your child what you would both like to achieve, and how you might work together to meet these goals, can be a really meaningful process.
To help us parents understand how to approach this conversation, child psychologist at online tutoring platform 'GoStudent' - Lisette Kuijt - shares her advice on how to set education resolutions together with your child, and how to work together to keep them.
Let your child make the decisions
When you are making education resolutions with your child, it is easy for you as a parent to take the lead. However tempting it might be to tell your child what they should try to achieve, do your best to avoid doing this, as it can make the task feel like a chore. I recommend that you empower your child to come up with resolutions that are important to them since, this way, they will be more motivated to work on them.
Convert problems into skills
When you are thinking of education resolutions for your child, you are probably thinking of problems that you would like to see solved. Instead of this problem-oriented point of view, try a solution-focused approach. In this more positive and proactive approach, you convert problems that need to be solved into skills that can be learned. Examples of skills are “I will learn to plan ahead to complete my homework,” instead of the problem oriented “I will stop forgetting to do my homework.”
Set realistic goals
As a parent, of course you want the best for your child. That said, try not to lose sight of the actual academic capabilities of your child when you are setting resolutions with them. Setting goals that are too large or unrealistic can lead to a lack of motivation and, in the long term, asking too much of your child’s academic capabilities can cause performance anxiety and low self-esteem. Expecting a student who has never been particularly good at maths to go from a C to an A in one school year is not very realistic. Instead, discuss with your child what actually feels achievable and work out how you can work together to meet that goal.
Abstract goals, such as “do better in maths,” will not help your child to reach the desired results. Instead of setting abstract goals, try setting specific and measurable goals together. This will help your child visualise what exactly they will need to do to reach the set goal, and give them something concrete to work towards. With this method, you can turn “do better in maths” into “you will master the times tables and get a B on your test in November.”
The frontal lobe of the brain, which is - next to abstract thinking - responsible for planning, organisation, self-monitoring and initiating action, is still developing during the school going age. Because of this, your child has trouble seeing what is best for them in the long run. The satisfaction of getting good grades may not be enough motivation for your child. Acknowledge that your child is on the right track and celebrate successes big and small throughout the year. To mark these achievements, perhaps cook their favourite meal for dinner, or let them pick a movie for the family to watch, as a reward for their hard work.
Don’t get frustrated
If you feel like your child is not focused on their goals, try to stay calm when raising this with them. Frustration can have the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve - namely demotivation and aversion (especially in teenagers). Instead, try to find out what is wrong and how you can help them. Have an open and honest conversation, and work together to re-evaluate what needs to be done to keep you both focused on your goals, ensuring that they remain tangible and realistic.
For more information, visit: www.gostudent.org/en