Dr. Webster talked with the boys this week during Morning Meeting about how schools really have two “new years”. He asked what this meant, and immediately the boys’ hands went up. One young man expressed that entering a new grade was like entering a new year. We are lucky in this way- we get to start a new calendar year in January complete with reflections of the year gone by and predictions for the year to come, and we start a school year in September excited by the hopes and possibilities ahead.
Ms. Heegan begins third grade asking the boys to set goals for the year as well as goal for the remainder of their time in Lower School. She reviews the year goals in June and gives the boys their long-term goals in an envelope as they graduate fifth grade. I have witnessed them unfolding their papers on graduation day and sharing both humorous and serious goals written years before. From an early age, children understand that they can set a goal, even as simple as climbing to the highest part of a playground and finding a slide to carry them to safety again, and achieve it on their own. This feeling of accomplishment leads to more goal setting and risk taking which prepares them for life challenges.
As teachers, we encourage the boys to set realistic goals and help them to meet those goals. I know that sometimes, as a parent, it can be difficult to watch a child struggle with goals, especially when falling short can mean frustration, sadness, or embarrassment. I was often the parent that “gave a boost” to my child to get him to the highest rung of the playground ladder. Allowing our boys to struggle and meet challenge with little interference is often life changing for them.
Another important consideration is the idea of the goals coming from the child rather than the adult. While we may guide our students or children to make new resolutions for better test outcomes, or consuming a healthier diet, the most successful goals originate with the child. According to Jessica Lahey, in her book The Gift of Failure, “Self-imposed goals are about the safest place for a kid to fail. I f kids make up their won goals, on their own timeline, according to their criteria, then failure is not a crushing defeat. Goals can be amended, changed according to circumstances, and even postponed to maybe next week. For kids who are particularly afraid and anxious about failing, goals offer a private proving ground, as safe way to take risks, fail, and try again.” She says that, “for a goal to work, the child has to own it.”
Grade one boys completed a writing assignment reflecting goals for the new year 2016. I talked with a few today, and they were excited to share the goal of “less crying”, “more reading”, and “being nicer to my brother”. All great choices unique to them! I will have to check back in a month or two and see how they are doing.
In conclusion, I hope that whatever your hopes, goals, or resolutions for 2016 may be, you are able to find success and much happiness!
I hope that my communication with you each week encourages “talking points” to inspire weekend conversation with your son or sons. Here are some “talking points” for this weekend.
- If you are in Kindergarten- Tell me about the juggling you were doing in PE this week. How do you juggle with colored scarves?
- If you are in Pre-First- When you popped balloons for words, what kinds of words were you making? How much fun was popping balloons in class? Were they difficult to pop?
- If you are in First Grade- What is a habitat and why are you learning about them?
- If you are in Second Grade- What kind of meaning to people attribute to rocks? How did you make a “rock”? What treasures did you put inside?
- If you are in Third Grade- What song were you learning in French class to start the New Year? Did you enjoy dancing and playing the limbo game while learning the French words?
- If you are in Fourth Grade- What great invention are you researching? Will you turn it into a report or use technology to present your work?
- If you are in Fifth Grade- How do you like the novel, Number the Stars? What did you learn about the time period?