Making Learning Resolutions

The-Top-Ten-Rules-For-Making-Learning-ResolutionsQuestion: What was the Most Popular New Year’s Resolution in 2015?

Answer: Stay Fit and Healthy – According to Nielsen

Soooooo… the presents have been opened, the food has been eaten and all the usual holiday squabbles have been resolved.  What is next on the agenda? Surely, it must be New Year Resolutions and without doubt, education should feature amongst them.

One of our favourite educationalists is Linda Innes and here are her top-ten-tips for New Year’s LEARNING resolutions.

1.  Make it a Family Tradition

Together, set individual resolutions, and family group ones. Select things you’d like to change, to feel better about yourselves (e.g. improving skills) and how your family works (e.g. spending more quality time together). Parents start, to show children an example.

2. Review the Past Year

Sit down – maybe on New Year’s Eve – and review the past year, or last year’s resolutions. This is a great way for children to see the progress they’ve made, and to be proud that they have accomplished something.

What worked this year and what didn’t? Where might you need to turn your attention, and make goals?

3. A Framework for Resolutions

If they need some help with focusing on resolutions, ask them to pinpoint a particular skill they need to improve, or think of a few topics they want to learn more about. Or you could use the ‘stop, start and continue’ framework, for a single resolution, or a few:

Stop – Identify “something you want to stop.” e.g. ‘talking so much in class’. Then, in the spirit of number 7 below, ask them what they are going to do instead.

Start – State “Something you’d like to start.” e.g. ‘listen, pay attention, etc. or ‘learn Chinese’.

Continue – “Something you want to continue.” e.g. ‘improving my knowledge of Tudor history.’

4. Say How

Discuss how their resolutions will be achieved. Once they have determined ‘what’ resolutions they have – always focus on ‘how’ they are going to achieve them. This provides the basis for an action plan, with steps along the way.

5. General and Learning Resolutions

If your child comes up with a ‘non-learning’ resolution, that’s fine, but suggest that they choose a learning resolution, too. Maybe set one personal resolution each (e.g. – eat healthier food) and one learning goal (spend 15 minutes learning my spellings each day).

Point out that some health and lifestyle goals will actually help towards your learning outcomes. For example, ‘drinking more water’ helps the brain to work, and ‘watching only an hour of TV’ means more time for reading.

6. Keep it Simple

This will help your child understand the concept – making it more likely that they will succeed. Also, limit the number of resolutions. Depending on the age of your children and the level of difficulty, you might decide on 1 – 5 resolutions.

7. Make it Positive

It’s more motivating to express resolutions in the positive. So if you or your child suggests ‘not’ doing something, turn it into ‘what ARE you going to do, instead?

‘I’m not going to get anxious before tests’ – change to ‘I am going to make sure I am prepared. I will be calm, do breathing exercises, and think about how well I am doing’.

If they say they will do ‘less’ of something – what will they do more of, instead? And – what does ‘more’ mean, specifically?

8. Be Specific

Vague promises aren’t enough! Dig deeper so your child can see what their resolution involves – and looks like, or feels like.

A resolution might be ‘I will listen carefully when Mum, Dad or the teacher asks me to do something.’ Discuss what that means in reality, and how they will do it.

‘I’ll watch less TV’ might become ‘I will do more reading.’ But also get them to pin down what, specifically, ‘more reading’ means – 5 or 60 minutes a day? Comics or War& Peace?

Give timescales and deadlines – ‘by 1st February, I will know my 12 times table’. ‘By 30th March, I will have finished my History assignment’.

9. Focus on Motivations

You don’t have to offer material rewards. Especially for older children, whatever their goal, ask also, ‘And what will that get for you?’ or ‘And then, what will happen?’

If the resolution is to ‘spend 1 hour per night extra studying Maths’, asking, ‘What will that get for you?’ may offer ‘better results… peace of mind… a university place… a good job’.

10. Write it Down – With Illustrations

Ask them to write down their goals, or encourage them to draw a picture or symbol. Visualising a goal helps to focus, and images make it more memorable.

For more useful parenting information pay a visit to the Education Quizzes Knowledge Bank. It’s packed full of articles which aim to answer the questions asked by parents. They could be on any aspect of education, such as home schooling or special needs education, or they could be on some of the issues concerning parents, like cyberbullying or substance abuse. It’s a valuable resource for any parent!

And remember – resolutions and goals aren’t just for new year! Education Quizzes helps your child all year round.

So, here’s to a very happy and educational new year!

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” – Oprah Winfrey

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