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EF Conference Goal Setting Homeschool parent perspective

EF at Home: Goal Setting, Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part series on EF at Home: Goal Setting. You can read Part 1 here

When children create personalized and achievable goals that are CANDO (Clear, Appropriate, Numerical, Doable, and with Obstacles considered), they are positioned to succeed. Here are some practical tips for helping children set effective goals and monitor their progress.

Begin with Simple Goals

Start with straightforward goal areas that are motivating for your child. These might include:

  • Sports or Activities – Set goals related to sports or activities that your child has chosen and for which they are already motivated. Perhaps your child is trying to earn scout badges or master a certain instrumental piece or sports technique.
  • Household Projects – Set goals as a family (e.g., household cleaning or renovation projects) so you can work together to achieve success. You can also set individual goals for around the house (e.g., organizing a room or training a dog).
  • Academics – Begin with goals that are likely to be met easily to build confidence; then move toward goals for challenging tasks or subject areas. You can start by setting goals for homework completion for one day or for studying for a particular test.

As you focus on any goal area, remember that you want your child to see results and feel accomplished. Be careful about goals related only to outcomes (e.g., grades, points scored, medals) that may depend on the behaviors or standards of others. Instead, target goals that connect to the process of improvement (e.g., studying or practicing for so many hours per week).

Practice Monitoring Goal Progress

Setting goals is just the first step. If we write down a goal and put it in a drawer, it never gets done. Once your child has set an effective goal and identified short-term steps to reach it, you can help your child monitor and reflect on their progress. Use a calendar or planner to remind you and your child to revisit the goal and discuss whether progress is being made.

In the beginning, you will have to support your child in developing realistic self-assessment. Your child may say, “Yup, I’m doing it.” You may need to gently correct the assessment by asking questions about the timeline or the completion of short-term steps leading to the larger goal. You may even need to provide information about what you have observed—at least in the beginning. As your child practices checking goal progress, you can provide less direct support while encouraging your child to decide how to celebrate accomplishments.

Wrapping Up

Goal setting allows us to have a say in what we want to have, be, or do. By teaching children strategies for goal setting, along with sharing our own use of goal setting, we can start them on the path to goal-directed accomplishments!

  • Mindy Scirri, Ph.D., Educational Consultant and SMARTS Trainer

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

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EF Conference Goal Setting Homeschool parent perspective

EF at Home: Goal Setting, Part 1

To children, goal setting may seem like one of those things that adults do—and maybe only those highly successful adults that children see on television or in the movies. Many adults, in fact, simply have dreams (goals without deadlines!), and very few adults truly understand how to set effective goals and implement them. How then can we possibly expect our children to become good goal-setters?

Goal setting may not be part of the school or homeschool curriculum—but it could be. Either way, goal setting is something you can practice with your children at home. Here are some suggestions.

Teach a Goal-Setting Strategy

Start with suggesting a goal-setting strategy that is both easy to remember and effective. In the SMARTS Curriculum, we teach CANDO goal setting, which includes the following five criteria:

  • C – Clear: Goals must be clear and specific. Avoid words like “better” or “more” that simply show a direction. What, actually, do you want to accomplish?
  • A – Appropriate: Goals must be realistic, based on where you are starting, and also relevant to what you need or want. Make sure goals are next steps rather than “pie-in-the-sky” ideas of what you think might be nice.
  • N – Numerical: Goals must be measurable, so you can check whether or not you are meeting your goal. Can you use a number or percentage or some other amount to quantify what you are trying to do?
  • D – Doable: Larger goals must be broken down into short-term goals so that you can reach (and celebrate) those short-term goals along the way. What are the steps you need to take to accomplish what you want?
  • O – Obstacles Considered: Goals must be considered in terms of obstacles that might arise and possible solutions to those obstacles. What is likely to get in the way? What do you have going for you?

By teaching and modeling goal setting, your child can learn an important life skill. To learn more about the SMARTS Curriculum and information for homeschoolers and parents of school-aged children, we invite you to attend the 37th Annual Executive Function Conference on November 3 and 4, 2022, to hear from Michael Greschler, M.Ed. and Mindy Scirri, Ph.D.

Wearing Your Shoes: Teachers Collaborating with Parents to Promote Executive Function at School and at Home

In this workshop, Michael Greschler, M.Ed., and Mindy Scirri, Ph.D., will explore the impact of differing perspectives between teachers and parents/guardians, as well as practical strategies for collaborating with families to support students. Participants will learn strategies from the SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum, review strategy instruction materials developed to support EF at home, and explore hands-on activities for bridging the gap between school and home.

Tune in tomrrow for Part 2 of this blog post to learn practical tips for goal setting and monitoring progress toward goals.

  • Mindy Scirri, Ph.D., Educational Consultant and SMARTS Trainer

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

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College Learning Differences parent perspective

Parent Perspective: Is It Time to Worry Yet?

My favorite literary father, Atticus Finch, tells his daughter, “It’s not time to worry yet.” Notice, he doesn’t say “don’t worry.” Instead, he counsels to only worry when there’s a valid reason.

For parents of a student with learning differences, anxiety is valid. The worry can be used to motivate action that will help a student, assuming it is not overwhelming (which it can be, understandably).

When a student struggles with reading, math, or executive function skills, schools often say “wait and see.” It’s a call for inaction. Wait and see is almost always bad advice.

When my daughter didn’t pass a reading assessment several years in a row, everyone said, “Don’t worry, she just needs more time.” After many years of unnecessary struggle, I learned that she is dyslexic.

What she needed was understanding and different instruction. Without that support and understanding, she developed severe anxiety and depression(link opens in new tab/window) at too young of an age. Waiting was educationally and emotionally damaging. I should have worried sooner.

Now in high school, my daughter still struggles every day. She manages to pull good grades so nobody seems worried. But I think I’d better start worrying that she’s not learning how she learns, not being prepared for college in a way that will work for her. And I’d better start worrying about helping her find a college that will accept her literally and figuratively.

“Don’t worry,” the college counselors say. “She’ll get in somewhere. Wait and see.” I’m sure that’s good advice for most kids, but nothing in my daughter’s educational experience has just magically worked out by waiting and seeing. It’s been hard work, motivated by worry.

Hopefully, it’s not paralyzing, but if you have kids with learning differences, it’s always time to worry.

  • Parent of LD High School Student
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Homeschool parent perspective Remote Learning

Parent Perspective: The Gap Between Home and School

Alana Bremers, parent and ResearchILD Intern, discusses how educators and parents can bridge the gap between home and school.

“My brother grew up with learning differences, and when my mom went to visit him in kindergarten, he was alone at a table with a pad of paper and a box of crayons. The rest of the class was on the floor listening to a story the teacher read.

My mom looked at the room. All the kids had their names self-written, decorated, and hung up on the wall; except, of course, my brother. No one thought to help him write his simple, three-letter name. He had dyslexia but could still participate. 

This was decades ago, but really it’s just the first chapter in a long story. My mom had to fight for everything he got out of school. If she had never visited him in school, he would have been ignored completely. Needless to say, he did not enjoy school.

In teacher training programs, we are trained to do better for students like my brother. We learn about behaviorism, conditioning, Pavlov, and Maslow. We design strategic interventions for struggling students and incorporate methods for scaffolding. We develop pride in our profession and power to help kids shape their futures. We have the best intentions, yet forget these kids belong to another world for most of their lives.

If a child is struggling, shouldn’t the first step be to ask the parents for insight? Is it appropriate to become a mentor to a student without becoming familiar with their parents? Wouldn’t it be helpful to make curricula available to parents and information about their children accessible? How do parents and teachers become team members in support of academic success?

As a future teacher, I want to positively transform the lives in my classroom. I want to be the teacher who inspires a generation of students to be kind and confident. Parents and teachers are on the same side: the side of happy, healthy, kind, intelligent, thoughtful kids. 

We know that relationships are fundamental to learning, and this is true both at home and at school. To be successful teachers, we need to forge positive relationships between home and school. Creating a consistent flow of information and sharing of strategies and ideas sends a message to our students that we are committed to setting them up for success. Especially for early learners, having a positive relationship with parents can help build trust and bring consistent messages from the classroom into the home.

Parents buy a lot of parenting books, read blogs, and ask for advice. They welcome partners in raising happy, healthy, successful, and kind children. Bridging parents and teachers, while respecting students, is rewarding for kids and will, therefore, help teachers achieve classroom goals.”

  • Alana Bremers, ResearchILD Intern

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

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Homeschool parent perspective Remote Learning

Parent Perspective: Reentry and Learning Loss

Alana Bremers, parent and ResearchILD Intern, shares her thoughts about school reentry and learning loss after homeschooling her children during the pandemic.

“Between not being able to access specific standards and curriculum from my local district and the uncertainty of this pandemic year, I have no way of knowing how my kid will fit into school next year. 

If I can believe the recent assessments that my daughter took from a free, online program that claims to track specific state standards, she will be a full year ahead in math and two to three years ahead in literacy. She is even passing science tests.

With hesitation, I feel great about this year of homeschooling my children. We appear to be managing a large amount of quality learning in a fraction of the time. While I was initially scared about failing my kids, I’ve instead reinforced bonds between my children and myself. I’m even lamenting our return to in-person schooling next year.

As I consider our school plans for next year, there are a few things I am keeping in mind. No matter what happens, I will continue to leverage free public curricula. These programs can be used to guide homeschool programs, and they also allow parents to be a productive part of any student’s learning experience. If parents can easily access information about where their children stand academically, we can be stronger advocates for high-quality education and more immediately recognize when our children fall behind.

I also think that parents need as much access to data as possible. Is the school providing professional development training opportunities and attracting quality teachers? If I leave a district and enter a new one, is there something I can do to prepare my kids to seamlessly transfer?

So many news stories discuss kids struggling in hybrid or remote learning; however, parents and schools need to learn from what worked this year if students are going to successfully re-engage with learning. One recent news story even reported students with ADHD are thriving in less distracting online learning environments.

How can we continue to apply the positive lessons we’ve learned over the past two years with hybrid and homeschool learning models? Teachers and parents should continue to make expectations, goals, and realities all easily accessible, public information.”

  • Alana Bremers, ResearchILD Intern

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

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Homeschool parent perspective Remote Learning

Parent Perspective: Learning to Homeschool

Alana Bremers, parent and ResearchILD Intern, explains how she learned to homeschool during the pandemic.

“While deciding to homeschool my kids wasn’t easy, once I made the decision, I took it very seriously. I wanted to make sure that I developed a plan that would support my new teaching responsibilities, both academically and socially.

The social dimension of homeschooling has been great as I’m able to teach both of my kids together. We can play games, read to each other, and spend time using online learning programs.

We also have more flexibility in our daily schedule, so I’m able to make sure we have time for swim lessons, socially distanced play dates, or general fun. We have two sports days a week and family time on weekends. Homeschool counts time reading and playing games as education, and we can even count play as physical education. As a mom, I felt confident in my ability to keep my kids engaged with their friends and enjoying life.

Structuring their academic lives was a bit more challenging. However, as a teacher candidate, I felt like I could do the research and get this done. I had an interesting experience trying to untangle the local standards for education. After a few frustrating hours, I gave up, instead focusing on the standards of New York because their curriculum is available online, for free, with interactive learning assistance. New York state is very open about exactly what kids are expected to learn.

Connecting with other homeschool parents has been invaluable. I have found tremendous support from the general homeschool community and administrators of various curriculum products I use.”

  • Alana Bremers, ResearchILD Intern

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org