Many of the tutors we work with incorporate SMART learning goals in their lessons. At school, the curriculum is increasingly incorporating them as well. If you would like to read more about how to prepare your child for effective learning in the 21st Century, you can do so here. Or, if you would like more information about the tutors we work with, please contact us.
The new school year is a great time for setting goals and targets. This is an activity that students and parents can do together in order to focus the mind on the year to come. However, these goals can often be set with the best of intentions but, if they are too general and non-specific, it is very unlikely that they will be achieved. SMART goals are used in many different workplaces and can be effectively applied for back to school targets too.
SMART goals are:
Specific: What specifically is it that you want to accomplish in the end?
Measurable: There must be a way of measuring whether this goal has been completed or not.
Attainable: Is this a realistic goal? Not just ‘be more punctual’ in general, but ‘get up ten minutes earlier every morning’.
Relevant: Is the goal fulfilling a genuine need?
Time-bound: There should be a clear deadline for meeting this goal.
As a suggestion, here are two SMART back to school goals.
Improve My Grades
Poorly Defined Goal: Improve my grades.
SMART Goal: In the first term, I will complete my homework during the hours of 6 to 7 p.m. on school nights at my desk in my bedroom. After completing this homework, I will put my homework in a homework folder and put it in my backpack. At school the next day I will turn in my homework to my teacher. I will reconsider this goal after receiving my termly report at Christmas.
- Specific: The goal is good and specific and states exactly what is to be accomplished
- Measurable: The specificity of this goal ‘6 7pm’ renders it very easy to measure the success of the goal.
- Attainable: This goal specifies ‘school nights’ and a specific window of one hour. It is neither a huge lifestyle change nor an unrealistic commitment to score top grades in everything.
- Relevant: This goal is relevant as completing all homework will certainly lead to better grades.
- Time-bound: The specific timings and scheduled review give this target a clearly defined window and an opportunity to review and re evaluate.
Be More Organized
Poorly Defined Goal: Be more organized.
SMART Goal: After school on the first day of school, I will organize my backpack by creating a folder or binder for each of my classes with places to keep my assignments, notes, and homework. After my backpack is organized, I will spend 10 minutes each day when I get home to go through the items in my backpack to make sure they are in the proper location. I will then dispose of any items I do not need or that do not belong in my backpack.
- Specific: The goal addresses exactly what needs to be done.
- Measurable: The goal specifies a specific time of day to do the task, ’10 minutes each day when I get home’, the frequency of the task and its duration. These are all factors that can be measured.
- Attainable: This goal is realistic because it is focusing on one facet of organisation – the rucksack, rather than attempting to improve everything at once. It is also not a particularly arduous or time consuming task.
- Relevant: The goal is extremely relevant as it is a great habit that will build the organisational skills of the student
- Time-bound: The task clearly sets out exactly when and for how long these tasks take place.
SMART goals are brilliant, they can really help students focus on improving their academics without feeling overwhelmed by the seeming enormity of a task. Doing an hour of homework a day is a lot less daunting a thought than setting out with the aim of improving all grades at once.