Setting SMART Goals

Somehow, the end of the semester has snuck up on you, and amidst all the things that are on your to-do list, up pops the dreaded exam timetable. It’s a stressful time for your kids, and it’s a stressful time for you. On top of everything else that’s going on, you have to find time to help your kids study for their exams. But isn’t there a better way?

Setting goals is a simple way to help your kids start off the right way. Instead of leaving everything to the last minute, running out of time to do things properly, or panicking at the load of work that has to be done, why not start studying from the beginning of the school term?

Well, this seems like a great idea, but what’s a practical way to prevent procrastination and begin the year on the right foot? The answer is setting effective goals, and a great way to do this is using the SMART method of goal setting.

What are SMART goals?

So, what are SMART goals, anyway? George Doran created the idea in an article he wrote about setting management goals and objectives. However, the technique is so effective that it is used in a variety of contexts by loads of diverse people for different reasons. Here is a guideline you can use to help your child set effective SMART goals.

Let’s start with “S” for SPECIFIC

This means they should write a detailed and thorough goal. If the goal is too general or unclear, they will struggle to achieve it. Instead of saying “I want to do well in my subjects”, rather say “I want to improve my marks by 10% this term”.

The next letter is “M” for MEASURABLE

The goal needs to be measurable, otherwise how will they know if they are succeeding? Form benchmarks to establish whether they are reaching their goalpost. For example, if they want to better at mathematics, they can start off by practicing a certain number of equations each day. Then, complete practice quizzes, tests, and examinations. They will see an improvement in their scores as they practice consistently, learn from their mistakes, and get better with every practice assessment.

Third, we have “A” for ATTAINABLE

An attainable goal is something that is possible for them to achieve. If they are failing a subject, it is unrealistic to set the goal of getting a distinction, and they will just get discouraged when they can’t accomplish an unrealistic goal. Rather, set the goal of improving by percent.

The “R” stands for RELEVANT

Ask why they want to achieve this goal? Is their goal relevant to their life? Does it fit in with their short-term and long-term goals? Do they have the resources to complete this goal? If they consider the rewards of achieving their goal, it will help motivate them and help them stay committed even when things get challenging.

Finally, let’s look at “T” for TIMELY

Does their goal have a deadline? They need to have a starting point and an ending point for their goal, otherwise they will struggle to find the motivation to work toward it. Creating a routine will help them realise their goals because they will work towards them little by little every day, instead of rushing around at the last minute. Be flexible, but don’t let things fall between the cracks. Like the tortoise taught us, slow and steady wins the race!

Do the work!

Understanding these steps and working with your child to put them into practice will help you and them make the most of the time available. But it’s not enough just to have SMART goals, they still have to build an action plan and do the work! So now that they’ve set their SMART goals they are ready to improve their marks and allow their schedule to help them succeed.

Writing effective SMART goals

Don’t say: I want to do well in English

Rather say: 

This term, I will improve my essay writing by 10% by

  • planning my essay,
  • completing a draft one week before the deadline,
  • asking my friends and teacher to review my draft,
  • and revising my essay at least three times before handing it in.

Download your SMART goals template hereUse this template to start working on your own SMART goals!


Written by Vicki Snyman, BrightSparkz Tutor and Guest Blogger

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