Advice for parents from a real teacher

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent
Dear Mrs. James,

2010 is right around the corner and as I prepare myself for my New Year's resolutions, I was wondering if I should do the same with my kids (ages 3, 5, 7, 9) but I kind of think they're too young, do you?

Katie George

Dear Katie,

No, no, no and NO! Katie, none of your kids are too young to start setting goals for themselves. It's actually a fabulous idea! Learning how to set reasonable and attainable goals is a valuable lesson to students of all ages. Yes, even 3-year-olds! Their goals can be drawn instead of written and they can also be held accountable for achieving or not achieving their goals.

The key is: you are going to have to help each child set goals that are on their age level. For example, a great goal for your 9-year-old would be to spend 30 minutes per day reading a book (yes, I'm biased, I know). Obviously, this would not be a great idea for your 3-year-old. Picking up toys before bed every night is much better.

Remember, though, these are the kids' goals for themselves, not your goals for them. It has to come from their hearts with a little guidance from you. If you have more questions, feel free to email me:! Read my answers to Susan Reese's question below if you'd like tips on how to reach the goals your family sets!

Until then...

Keep up the good work!


Mrs. James

Dear Mrs. James,

My kids and I always seem to set goals for the New Year that never come true. Do you have any tricks or tips you can give to help us reach our goals this year?


Susan Reese

Dear Susan,

Do I? I mean, like seriously, are you kidding?! I could write a book on this! But today, I'll settle for a quick article.

Susan, I am so glad you asked this question. You know, most people don't have a problem setting a goal. They can set goals all day, but the problems come in when they have to do the work that it takes to reach them. This year, when setting your goals, try my SMAR formula. Take notes!

Each goal should be Specific, Measurable, have clear steps of Action, be Reasonable and Rewarded.

So let's just say your daughter's goal is to "read more." Why doesn't she achieve it? One reason is because it isn't specific enough or measurable. It's a fantastic goal, but a better way of wording it would be "I want to read for 20 minutes every day." When goals are not specific it's easy to fall off the wagon and when they're not measurable, they're easy to forget.

Now that you have set a goal, it is important to set action steps. So she wants to read for 20 minutes per day? You'll have to take her to the bookstore or library to pick out a few books. You might also have to print out a reading log from the internet and hang it on the refrigerator. Or use ours by clicking in the box to the right. At the end of each week, the two of you can go back and measure how effectively she achieved her goal.

Lastly, the goal must be reasonable. If your daughter has never read consistently in her life, 20 minutes every night might be a bit ambitious. Start off with 5 minutes then increase it by 5 minutes each week until she reaches her goal. Once she reaches her goal, reward her either tangibly or with much praise!

If you use the SMAR formula and really stick with your goals, I guarantee you will see more results! Good luck and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Keep up the good work!


Mrs. James


Goal setting worksheet (.pdf)