Happy New Year!!
The start of a brand new year has always been a favorite time of ours. A time for reflection, renewal and much needed self care! As adults, we tend to set big goals that usually bring big changes in our lives but where did goal setting start? We think it started naturally when we were young.
When we were little, believe it or not we had goals too! Our goals didn’t look the same as they do now and they revolved around our developing senses, but we had them. They were always based on our interests at the time. And if we were lucky, we had parents and caregivers that helped us create and cultivate some of those goals even informally!
Children are Natural Goal Setters
You might think that a preschooler is too young to set goals, but we think preschoolers are at a great age to start talking about setting goals. By reflecting on things they already enjoy doing, with your guidance they can come up with ideas of things they want to learn to do.
Children, like adults, have interests and things that they want to try. Children are curious by nature. Maria Montessori advocated that we help children to develop their curiosity. When we assist a child in his/her curious endeavors, we allow them to reach inner goals that they don’t even know they have. What child doesn’t talk about what they want to be when they grow up? They really are natural goalsetters.
Make it a Family Affair
Setting goals with young children is really simple and it can be a fun family project. Three to six year-olds have a great ability to be able to communicate what they like and don’t like😂. Just ask them.
As parents and educators of Montessori children our goals are to:
• promote joy of learning
• foster curiosity
• help develop self-confidence
• encourage positive attitudes about learning
• promote intrinsic motivation
• teach respect by example,
• help develop concentration and
• teach peace
Through these goals, we can help our young children reach their own goals.
How Do We Set Goals with Children?
We suggest holding an informal meeting and just talking to your preschooler about things that they love to do. You can ask them what are some things they love about school if they go or things they enjoy learning in their homeschool. Are there family activities they enjoy doing? Or things they have seen other people doing that look fun or interesting to them?Maybe they have seen things in books that have sparked an interest.
Make a list with your child and use the things of interest they mention as a springboard to discuss what they might like to learn about or do.
Make an Observation
We know we learn the most sometimes from just observing our children. Take some time to notice the things that are of interest to your child in their various settings. Through this observation, your child’s interests will surely be revealed. Having conversations following your observations are ideal because then your child can help explain and explore their interest further with you. This will give you even more insight. Make sure to make this conversation natural. Don’t over ask or expect too many answers just be free flowing with a few questions and then really listen.
Make a Plan
Choose one or two things from your child’s interest list to work on for the upcoming months and then set up ways for them to start reaching these goals.
Plan a trip to the beach to visit a tide pool if they are interested in sea life. Maybe there is an aquarium by your house. Does your child like cars? Is he or she interested in Science? Maybe learning about artwork and famous artists is a point of interest for your child right now. Maybe they want to learn to ride a bike. You can find a zillion resources online where you can download information and activities that you can study at home and then if you can go on a field trip. Visiting places of interest really help to bring exciting things to life. But if you can’t go somewhere, look for videos online of anything and everything that might fulfill your child’s interests.
So can you set goals with children at an early age? We say you can. It is an awesome way to get the new year off to a great start! Wishing you all the best in the New Year!