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NEW YEAR SPECIAL

Help your child set new resolutions

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IT’S safe to say 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year for all of us, especially where it concerns our children and their education. Now we’ve arrived in 2021, and a new term is just about to begin for students.

There has never been a better time to help them set out resolutions for the New Year, especially as regards their academics. Not only is helping them set out goals a great action plan for success, children can also learn a lot about self-discipline and begin to see the value in setting new resolutions and goals.

  According to Mrs Kate Izunwanne, a guidance counselor in a one of the private secondary schools in Awka Metropolis, “New Year resolutions are fantastic tools for motivating children and adults alike to work harder toward achieving their ambitions.

For school-age kids in particular, it’s a matchless opportunity to set some new resolutions that relate to education, whether that’s improving in an area of difficulty or continuing to do well”.

  “The first step is to allow them sometime to think about the New Year resolution, because commitments to working towards a goal should be taken seriously. It is therefore important to give some real thought and consideration to the New Year resolutions one makes.

That means giving the issue the proper time it deserves. Instead of sitting down with your kids and immediately deciding on some resolutions, give them time to think about the goals they might want to work toward. First, introduce the idea of creating educational resolutions for a new year.

  Then give them a day or even a week to ponder the concept before sitting down together and actually putting the resolutions to paper. When eventually you come together as a family to talk about the issue, start by going over the positive things your kids accomplished last year. Instead of pointing out shortcomings, be the historian of their previous successes, point to the bright spot where they did and are still doing something great.”

  “Again, before setting educational New Year resolutions, parents should endeavour to ask some important questions. They will make it much easier when it is their kids deciding on their goals and ambitions for 2021. I recommend discussing the following together or writing down some notes.

  “Questions like how do I want to improve this year? Is there anything specific I want to achieve academically? What do I need to do to help me reach my goal? Are there areas I need to improve on? What can I do to get back on track? What will help the resolution making? Again, it is important to focus on learning, as well as grades”

  “Firstly, when helping your children to decide on some educational resolutions for the new school term, make sure they focus on their learning, as well as grades.

Even though lots of high grades are great, it is also important that kids are able to actively apply their learning outside of school and demonstrate their knowledge in the real world. Perhaps ask them to come up with a maximum of two grade specific goals and two learning goals too- this way they are more likely to stay motivated for everyday lessons as well as for exams and tests.

  “Then, strive to make each resolution specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. That means that instead of resolving to “do better in school,” your children will be better off resolving to get at least an 80% on every math test for the rest of the school year.

When helping your child set educational goals, it is really important that they are specific. This is because goals that include precise performance standards are usually much more effective as children know exactly what they’re working towards.

Do this by getting your children ask themselves slightly harder questions. For example, instead of knowing they want to improve in maths, perhaps ask them to think of a grade they want to achieve or maybe they want to be able to complete math equations without any help. Having this measurable target will also improve their motivation and productivity levels as your kids will be able to easily monitor their progress”.

  Mrs Obi Benedicta, a retired primary school teacher said: “At a glance, making New Year resolutions can empower children to change a behavior or work on a new skill. Good New Year’s resolutions are thoughtfully made with reasonable end goals in mind.

Progress charts and regular check-ins can help kids keep their resolutions on track. Ideally, New Year’s resolutions teach kids how to set and work steadily toward goals. That can be especially valuable for those who have learning and thinking differences.

Therefore, it is important to encourage both short and long-term resolutions. When it comes to educational resolutions for the New Year, we recommend encouraging your kids to set both long-term and short-term goals.

Even though new year’s resolutions have a habit of only lasting a few weeks, when setting them, it is usually more effective to set short-term, manageable tasks that actively build-up towards a long-term goal. This way, if your child has a longer goal in mind, the actionable steps they take within the first few weeks will actually have a bigger purpose.

So, once they have chosen a few educational resolutions for 2021, help them break each one down into smaller sections, and set small deadlines for each individual task. These smaller goals hold them accountable and help them believe they will actually be able to achieve the educational resolutions which hopefully mean they won’t give up easily.

“One more thing is to help them narrow down the resolutions list because the most important thing in this process is not to end up with too many resolutions. Honestly, two or three are reasonable. We don’t want to teach our kids that it is about making a huge list of resolutions and not following through. So, the best thing is to help the kids narrow them down to a couple of things to focus on.

  “More so, while setting new educational resolutions, try to make sure your child is realistic about what can actually be accomplished in the near future. There is nothing more de-motivating than setting completely unrealistic goals, which will be sure to make your kids feel overwhelmed and set them up for disappointment.

However, it’s also important that these educational goals are not super easy too, especially as this won’t pose much of a challenge for your child. I recommend encouraging a moderate difficulty that will put their abilities to the test, but not so easy that they do not have to try.

  “Finally, check in periodically with kids on how they’re doing as regards sticking to the resolutions. Don’t worry about lapses, in fact, expect them. A lapse is forgetting for a day or two, or having a week in which a turtle step did not work.

That is not failure; that is just trying. No big change is ever accomplished perfectly. If your child is not making progress on a resolution, first affirm how hard it is: It may have seemed like a great idea, but it may not be easy to stick to.

Ask them what is getting in the way for them? Help them get excited about it again.  If you are sure that the resolutions are accessible, you can always find them easily. You can also have a ritual every month in which you bring them out and talk about how you are all doing. Of course, if the plan is not working, you can always adjust it. If you lose your way, figure out another way to get there”.

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