SMART Goal-Setting Activities for Kids

We have all been there, putting our pen to paper to ensure we achieve our goals. We attach the deadline we want those goals to be accomplished by. Sometimes we succeed, and other times we don’t.

Goal-setting is important for kids too. It helps kids learn to live responsibly and lead a more focused life. By accomplishing their goals, kids increase their level of self-awareness. Goal-setting also raises motivation and provides direction.

How Do We Teach Goal-Setting to Kids?

We can use the SMART goal approach introduced by George T. Doran in the 1980s to help kids to achieve success. SMART is an acronym for the five practical steps of reaching one’s goal:

SPECIFIC: Teach kids always to be exact about their intent. For instance, “I want to get an A in mathematics” is a specific goal. “I will try to get an A or B in mathematics” is not a specific goal.

MEASURABLE: Goals are quantifiable. We need to teach kids to measure their specific goals. To measure the achievement of their goals, we teach kids to answer the following questions:

How long will I need to study to achieve an A?

How many times do I need to get a particular score on my practice tests?

Teach kids to attach figures or percentages to measure their goals. For instance, “I will study for 3 hours daily” is measurable. “I will get 80% or more on my practice tests” is a quantifiable goal.

ACHIEVABLE: Let us teach kids to set achievable goals. Goals should be challenging, but not beyond reach. For example, scoring 80% in all subjects is achievable. Scoring 100% in all subjects is possible, but unlikely.

RELEVANT: Is the child motivated to achieve this goal? A goal is relevant when it is realistic. For instance, if a child scores a C in mathematics for three consecutive terms, it is not practical to set a goal for an A in the next term. A realistic goal would be a B.

TIME-TARGETED: Teach the child to set a time to achieve their goals. For instance, “I will study for 3 hours daily from today to a week before my exam to score 80% in mathematics” is a time-targeted goal. Without a target date, there won’t be a sense of urgency to achieve the goal.

Below are further activities that can make goal-setting for kids more effective:

Create a bucket list: To teach kids goal-setting, have them create a yearly bucket list. This is a list of accomplishments, experiences, or achievements that the child may have within a particular time. At the end of that time, divide the bucket list into two. One of the buckets should contain SMART goals that have been achieved. The other should hold those that weren’t met. Take some time with your child, and together examine why those goals were not achieved.

Draw a wheel of fortune: Help the child draw a wheel and segment it. Tell the child to attach their SMART goals for Family, Friends, School, etc., on each segment. Remember to fill the wheel with the achieved goals.

Make a vision board: A vision board is a great way to help your child visualize their goals.

Play Three Stars and a Wish: Three Stars and a Wish is a fun way to get kids thinking about their goals. This is done by asking the child to come up with three “Stars,” or things they already do well, and make a wish of one thing they need.

Ask fun questions: When we ask children about what they would like to accomplish, it makes them think and share their thoughts with us. This is a standard component of the goal-setting process. You might make suggestions to the child, but let them do most of the sharing.

Let the child share their interest with you: Older kids can learn a lot about themselves by paying attention to their interests. Once they see their interests charted out, they can create a goal out of them.

Have you been creating goals for yourself? Have you been achieving them? Showing your goals to your kids and telling them that you have completed this and that will inspire them to achieve their goals.

Do you have other great ways that you teach kids to achieve their goals? Let’s talk in the comment section.

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