Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Years Resolutions And Goals For Homeschoolers

Most adults have this new years resolution thing down.  First we make a list of things we'd like to change in the new year, then we get excited and hopeful about it, and try to start changing things.  For some of us, we stick to the list and accomplish our goals, and for the rest, after a few weeks, our goals for the new year fall by the wayside.  Why?  First, because changing behavior is hard.  Second, because when making new years resolutions most people set long term goals with no shorter term goals that will help them reach their longer term goals.  Without those shorter term goals to meet, you lose interest because the longer term goals seem too far off and too hard to reach.  Third, we often don't meet our personal goals when we make new years resolutions because we have no one to help us meet our goals.

This year, when making new years resolutions I encourage you to do two things:

1) Pick 1 or 2 long term goals that are really important, and then for each goal make 3-5 shorter term goals to help you get there.
2) Help your children come up with 1-3 long term goals, and help them make 3-5 shorter term goals to help them get there.  Then support them and try to keep them on track with their goals.  Who knows, maybe they can be your support system in keeping you on track with your resolutions as well!

Setting Clear Measurable Goals
A typical new years resolution list might have 'Lose Weight' on it.  That's an admirable goal, but written like this it's almost impossible to stay on track with it.  Instead you should write a very clear goal with a measurable outcome such as, "Lose 15 pounds by July 4th."  You can measure this goal because on July 4th you can see if you've lost 15 pounds.  Because it's specific, as you measure your progress between January 1st and July 4th, you know how far you've come and how far you still have to go.  When writing a clear, measurable goal, make sure it's not too hard to achieve.  Something like, 'loose 200 pounds by July 4th' is not only unhealthy but nearly impossible.

Breaking Goals Down Into Smaller Attainable Steps

So you have your clear, measurable goal written down: "Loose 15 pounds by July 4th."  And you have five months and 4 days to attain that goal.  But what are you going to do to meet that mark you've set for yourself?  That's where the 3-5 smaller goals come into play to help you reach your long term goal.  Maybe for your goal of losing 15 pounds, you've evaluated your lifestyle and chosen to do the following smaller goals:

1) Cut down to 1 soda a day and increase water consumption to 3 glasses a day.
2) Instead of junk food, keep fruits and vegetables that you like eating around the house to snack on.
3) Go to the gym twice per week for half an hour.
4) Walk around the block once a day.
5) Walk a mile twice a month.

The above mini-goals are things you can reasonably work out.  You can write them down and put them on the fridge, and because they're all smaller chunks to a larger goal, they seem easier to work towards or to work into your calendar.  Simply writing 'lose weight' doesn't inspire anyone to do anything, but 'walk around the block once per day' is a simple concrete goal that you can work into your daily routine and make a habit of.  You can keep track of your progress on a calendar or chart.

How do you make new years resolutions for kids?

Ask your kids what they want to change or improve, make a list, and then help them pick out two or three things from that list.  If they can't think of anything, here are some suggestions:

  • Improve math by 1 grade level
  • Improve reading by 1 grade level
  • Improve writing by 1 grade level
  • Catch up on work I've fallen behind in
  • Master 50 spelling words
  • Join a sport
  • Join an extracurricular activity or club (boy/girl scouts, drama, karate, etc etc)
  • Improve my ______ skill at ______ sport that I am already involved in
  • Read 12 new books this year (1 per month)
  • Enter a competition
  • Do a community service project
  • Learn 5 survival skills
  • Keep my room clean for 4 out of 7 days a week
Remember, it's important for the child to decide what their overall goals are.  If you pick their goals or write all the steps involved in meeting those goals for them, they will not be motivated to follow through.

Try to help your child understand that their goals should be attainable and also something that is valuable to them.  A goal like 'grow an inch taller' is not attainable because they have no control over how much they grow and when, and a goal like 'score 50,000 points in my video game' is not a valuable goal, even though it may seem important to them at the time.

Examples of Goal Setting For Kids

Let's go over two more examples of how to break your child's long term goal into shorter term goals.  Maybe one of your child's goals is to join a sports team this year.  Their shorter term goals for joining a sports team might look like:

1) Write down 5 different sports I'm interested in
2) Research those 5 sports and what they involve
3) Research times of year those sports are available in the local area and through what organizations.
4) Find out what I need to do to join one of the teams and get together everything I need to join.

Or if your child's long term goal is keep my room clean for 4 out of 7 days a week for 4 months, then they can set these shorter term goals to help them reach their larger goal:

1) Pick up 10 things in my room after breakfast every day
2) Pick up 10 things in my room after school every day
3) Pick up 10 things in my room after dinner every day
4) Put things away when I'm done playing with them

In order to measure a goal like this, where the time frame is 'do this for 4 months' then it would be helpful to get a calendar and have the child check off the days each week that the room is clean to see at the end of the week if the goal of 4 out of 7 days has been met.

Help Them Stay On Track

You can help your child stay on track by checking in regularly with them and the progress they are making and record keeping you or they are doing for the goal.  Encourage them to stay on track, remain positive, ask what they may need from you to help them reach their goal, and help them remember why they wanted to reach their larger overall goal in the first place.  As time goes on, if some of the shorter term goals are not working out, try to help them re-evaluate what they need to do to reach their long term goal.

With a SMART goal (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound), and with the support you and your children can give each other for reaching your goals, the new years resolutions your family makes this year can be a huge success.

What are some of your resolutions for the new year?  Let us know in a comment below.


  1. My goal for the year is to wake up before my children and get myself completely ready for the day before they wake up. I always feel more productive and motivated if I can do this.

  2. I have quite the list for my New Year's Resolutions. Restructuring our homeschooling "system" is one of them, starting to research Charlotte Mason more and more so I can implement the style.

  3. I love the idea of helping kiddos with SMART goals. Something I could do better is finding way to help them stay on track.

    I posted our family goals on my blog If your interested and have some time. :)

  4. Thanks this is very helpful, I need to set better goals for my daughter.

    1. I hope you will help her set the goals and not set all of them for her. If a person doesn't take part in setting the goals, they won't follow through with them. Thanks for reading!

  5. This year I'm focusing on loving my husband better. I may eventually choose a more specific goal with the SMART standard in mind.

  6. Thank you for the reminder that it takes smaller steps to accomplish larger goals! Skipping that step usually leads to failure for me. I think it's important for me to remember that the small steps ARE success because that's what gets you to your end goal!