New Year’s Eve brings many people to make resolutions for the coming year. It is possible to make resolutions for your kids too. These resolutions may be more short-term goals, but it’s important to have goals that your kids can be a part of making.
Most of our special needs kiddos have goals through their IEPs, but often those goals are determined by the teachers and parents, not the kiddo. Making goals at home can be different and allow the kiddo to take part in what he/she will work on in the coming year.
To make resolutions more “fun” have everyone in the home participate. That way no one person feels singled out. Making a fun graph or chart to keep track of progress can make it more fun too. It also helps everyone see how well they’re doing. Charts and graphs can be made in a fun way with something your kiddo likes. For example, if your kiddo likes hot air balloons, his/her chart could be a hot air balloon with many sections left blank to color in as progress is made.
Some ideas for goals are as follows:
- _______ number of pages read (Ex. for every 50 pages read, kiddo can fill in a section of the chart/graph.) Remember that reading helps improve reading. Even if it’s 10 pages a day, over time you’ll see your kiddo’s reading improve.
- Practice math flash cards for _______ min. (Just like with reading, some things in math take repetition. Over time, you should see improvement in math scores.)
- (Name of kiddo) will complete and turn in each homework assignment (For each assignment completed and turned in, he/she can fill in a section of the chart/graph.)
- Complete your planner/assignment notebook (For each day the planner is filled out, he/she may fill in a section of the char/graph.)
Behavioral goals can be set too. Some examples are as follows:
- Practice sitting at the table/desk for 10 minutes (Each day he/she sits for the allotted time, a section of the chart/graph is completed.)
- Use words instead of screaming 3 out of 4 times. (This one can be trickier to keep track of, but for the peace of the household, it may be worth it to try.)
- Walk safely down the hallway 50% of the time. (Again, this one may be more difficult to keep track of, but many kids with special needs struggle with walking in the hallways at school and home is a good place practice.)
When a goal is achieved, parents can make the decision to continue with the same goal but increase the time of percentage involved or to change the goal altogether. It is a good idea to have your kiddo help choose the goal. This way they will be more inclined to work on achieving the goal. (There is more ownership involved in a goal that you set for yourself than in one someone sets for you.) Also, have your kiddo choose what type of record (chart/graph) they would like to keep to show progress.
Don’t be surprised when there are bad days. We all have them, and sometimes they last weeks. When these days happen, just chalk it up to your kiddo being human and try not to let it get you down. If the “bad days” begin turning into weeks, remind him/her of the goal. If your kiddo just isn’t interested anymore in working on that goal, it may be time to set that one aside and talk about working on a different goal. Another option would be to adjust the goal. Maybe reading for 30 minutes is too intimidating and lowering it to 20 or even 15 minutes would make the goal more surmountable.
Some ideas for charts that can make keeping track of the goal are as follows:
- Hot air balloon that your kiddo can color in the sections
- A bicycle with spokes that your kiddo can color in the area between the spokes or color in different sections of the bike
- A thermometer that is sectioned by increments of five or ten
- A favorite cartoon character that is blown up on a poster and can be colored
Life is full of setting of goals and making progress. (Think doing dishes, cleaning the garage, making a portfolio for the boss.) Helping your kiddo make and work toward achieving goals, will help him/her be a more successful adult.