Summer Goals . . . For Kids!
Jul 25, 2014
At the beginning of summer, I wrote a little about the flexible structure (no, that's not an oxymoron) I planned to implement. Part of that plan included doing one new activity each week (if you've missed any of our Summer Fun, click here). The other part centered around summer goals.
During the first week of summer break, Aaron, Maxwell, and Bradley each made a list of things they wanted to accomplish over the next three months. (Clark didn't participate since his goals consist of eating, sleeping, and crying, and he needs no motivation to accomplish them.) Mike and I helped them think of ideas.
For my part, I wanted their goals to be diverse, measurable, and attainable.
My hope was that their goals would teach them new skills, exercise their minds, and be fun.
One of the first things I did was consult the master plan (adapted from Merrilee Boyack's excellent book, The Parenting Breakthrough) to see which skills they were each ready for. Then I made biased suggestions (you can do this when your kids are 5, 4, and 2). Aaron ended up with learn to tie shoes, learn to make sandwiches, and learn to vacuum on his list. Maxwell got memorize address and phone number and learn to wash dishes. And Bradley's list included learn to use the toilet, learn to wipe off the kitchen table, and learn to sort laundry.
Then there were the academic goals. For Aaron, these included finishing a level in his piano books, completing a math workbook, and memorizing four Articles of Faith. For Maxwell, they encompassed doing twenty reading lessons, learning 30 sight words, and memorizing four Articles of Faith. And for Bradley, they involved learning his letters and numbers and writing the letter B.
And finally, the fun goals. These included doing puzzles, playing chess, and listening to music.
My boys (especially Aaron) love charts. In order for this plan to be successful, I knew they would need to be able to see their progress.
So we typed out the goals, printed them, and taped them to the kitchen wall. Nothing fancy, I can assure you. (In fact, since I see them every day, I've been a little annoyed that we didn't at least keep the wording consistent throughout, but oh well, we know what they mean.) Each goal has a little box by it that can be covered with a star when it's complete.
We broke down some of the goals even further so they could mark their gradual progress. For example, Aaron's piano book has eight units, so there are eight boxes next to that goal.
It has been very motivating for them to see their own progress as well as each other's. (I will admit, they're a little competitive and keep track of how many stars each one has.)
We had to come up with goals that were both realistic and challenging. Goals are not any fun if you set the bar so high as to make them unattainable. Likewise, without a challenge, there won't be a feeling of success when they're complete.
For example, one of Maxwell's goals is to learn 30 sight words. I've been helping Max learn to read for many months now. I knew what he was capable of, and I also knew what would be overwhelmingly daunting and impossible for him to achieve. We settled on 30 words because if we broke it down to about five words a week, he could easily learn them all in three months with plenty of review in between. At the same time, it wasn't something we could leave for the last two weeks and expect to come out on top.
Now that we're seven weeks into the goals, I think we hit just the right balance on every single one of them except . . . toilet training for Bradley. Part of me wonders if we were being overly optimistic on that one. Those of you who've done this before know that it isn't something you can really force. But in the last week or so, he has made significant progress, so I'm still hopeful.
We've settled into a flexible routine. Each morning we wake up, eat breakfast, and play for a little bit. Around 9:00, I tell the boys it's time to work on chores and goals. Their chores often include the skills their working on (for example, Maxwell usually gets to wash the breakfast dishes and Bradley helps me with the laundry). I help Max with his reading and Aaron with his piano, and if they don't get too distracted, then they're done with everything in an hour or so.
I will add the disclaimer that this takes an extreme amount of effort on my part. I feel like I spend the entire morning running from kid to kid. Maybe once my kids are a little older, they'll be able to take on more of the responsibility themselves, but for right now, it's a lot of reminding and teaching and helping. However, I actually love it (unless Clark is needy and crying--then I'm just stressed) because goals are my thing, and I love watching their progress and cheering them on.
Oh, and rewards! I forgot to mention the rewards! That's the best part. At the end of each month, as long as they've been making progress, we get to do something fun together. In June, we went out for snow cones, in July we'll go to the aquarium, and in August we'll go to the Lego store (and they'll each get to fill a Pick-a-Brick container).
So far that's what we've been doing. I'll talk about a few of the goals a little more specifically in the coming weeks. If you have questions or have been working on summer goals of your own, feel free to leave a comment!