Reach for the stars! Anything you dream is possible! These are great messages for our kids, but often we forget to equip students with the tools that they need to carry out their dreams. Setting goals is also a powerful skill that we can teach our children.
Often goal setting is done with older students, but even our youngest students have the capacity to self-reflect and work towards their individual objectives. Pre-K4 students write their goals as a family. The August Family Project asks both the student and parents to set three goals for the school year. These are collected and buried in a “Hopes and Dreams Time Capsule” in their garden. The class will open their time capsule at their art show in the spring to reflect on how much progress was made towards their goals.
Teaching students to set goals and reflect on and revisit their goals builds a foundation of problem-solving and confidence in our lower schoolers.
As students mature developmentally, their goal setting may look a little different. First grade explores what makes each classmate important and then sets “hope goals” for the year, which are then written down and displayed on a self- portrait in the front of the classroom.
Fourth grade students take things a step further. Once they set their goals, they reflect on the steps they need to take in order to achieve their Hopes and Dreams. Students with shared goals work in groups to come up with four strategies that will help them to be successful in achieving their goals. Each learner writes a paragraph, individually explaining their Hopes and Dreams for the year. These are displayed in the room so that students can revisit them throughout the school year.
Fifth grade takes a more abstract approach to displaying their Hopes and Dreams. As an extension of their first novel, Roald Dahl’s “The BFG,” students make Hopes and Dreams bottles which resemble the jars of dreams that the Big Friendly Giant collected in the book. They used recycled water bottles and filled them with colorful tissue paper, pom poms and tinsel. Students wrote their dreams for the year on slips of paper and inserted them into the bottles. The goals were shared with their classmates and displayed as a visual reminder of what students are working towards in fifth grade.
As we start the fourth quarter and the end of the school year quickly approaches, students will be revisiting the goals that they set for themselves in August. What progress has been made towards achieving their goals? What further steps need to be taken in order to reach their milestones? Some students may be ready to generate a new dream, while others may need to revise or contemplate new ways to achieve their goals by the year’s end.
Teaching students to set goals and reflect on and revisit their goals builds a foundation of problem-solving and confidence in our lower schoolers. Each new quarter brings a renewed determination to reach their goals. Students are reminded that, even in the face of struggle, they can achieve their goals with hard work and smart strategies. As the saying goes, “When the world says ‘Give Up,” hope whispers “Try it one more time.”
Julie Pace A 2001 graduate of Episcopal High School, Julie returned to her alma mater in 2012. She received both her undergraduate degree and MEd in Elementary Education at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. After teaching 2nd grade in a Dual Language program in Texas public schools for three years, Julie moved abroad to teach 1st grade at a bilingual school in Gracias, Lempira Honduras. After her adventure was over, Julie accepted a position to teach Pre-K4 at Episcopal School of Baton Rouge, teaching alongside some of her former teachers. She has enjoyed seeing what life is like on the other side of the desk