Goals are realistic objectives for which you can plan. Learning to set goals in middle school can help provide direction to young students, according to the website of the Legacy Project, a grassroots education and literacy effort. Goals for children, much like the guidelines that adults should follow, must be measurable and attainable. By setting goals and making plans to achieve success, children can learn early in life that wishes are not goals.
An effective exercise for middle schoolers learning how to set goals and work toward their achievement is a goal letter they write to themselves. A goal letter is personal, the Legacy Project explains, and should be kept in a place where the child can read it every week to remind himself of his objectives. The letter should outline a simple objective the child can achieve within the school year. For example, he may want to become proficient in soccer or learn how to play a certain song on the piano. A goal letter can include goals for grades or making new friends. The goal should be important to the child. Once he has identified the goal, the child should write the steps he plans on taking to make it happen, as well as sacrifices he's willing to make. The letter should include what he will do if he hits an obstacle and whom he can call on for help.
Teachers and parents can explain the importance of goals, but until children see the process in action, they might have trouble understanding how goal-setting can help them. According to the Education World website, involving the entire class is an interesting and fun activity that teaches the value of setting goals. The class could brainstorm to come up with an appropriate goal for the school year —reading 100 books, for example, or collecting a certain amount of money for a worthy cause. The children can motivate each other and hold each other accountable for their success or failure. Together, the class comes up with ways to reach the goal and monitor its progress weekly or monthly on a chart. The students may realize that they need to change tactics if they are not on target at various times. Upon reaching the goal, they should plan a celebration.
While children become more invested in goals of their own choosing, parents, teachers and caregivers can build in another level of accountability and support by getting behind a child's goals. Children in middle school, particularly those who have had social or behavioral issues, can benefit from creating a contract with the significant adults in their lives, according to research by the National Middle School Association. The contract can include goals that address grades, absenteeism, participation in extracurricular activities and reverse behaviors such as staying out of the principal's office. Adults should agree to various terms, such as providing a reward to the child for reaching a goal or agreeing to consequences when the child does not follow the plan of action set forth in the contract.