This is the time of year where we normally look at the year ahead, and focus on what we want to achieve. This year, the way ahead is still unclear, despite the hope that the new vaccine brings. Secondary school students have coped remarkably well with all of this uncertainty, taking it in their stride and often showing an impressive maturity in adapting. However, we all need goals to help us feel as if we are working towards something, Here are a few tips to help your child plan ahead for 2021.
Break down bigger goals
Goals can motivate us, but they can also overwhelm us if they are too big. If your child is aiming for a particular grade in a subject, they need to break it down and think about what they can actually do on a weekly and monthly basis in order to achieve. They need to think about what is reasonably within their control, and what is realistic within the time that they have available. Furthermore, they do need to ensure that the goal is feasible. For example, if they are currently targeted to achieve a Grade Four in English, then aiming to reach a Grade Nine by the end of the year is most likely to be too much of a jump. They need to take smaller steps, first focusing on how to reach a Grade Five or Six, and then depending on how quickly they make this progress, potentially looking at the higher grades.
Students need to have a look at how they are actually using their time, and whether or not they are truly being as productive as they can be. This does not mean working all the time, it means having a structure to the day that enables students to get their work done, whilst also incorporating time to relax before the next school day. When students get home from school, they need to have a clear structure for this time. This should be flexible enough to incorporate both extra curricular activities and rest, but also allow time to get key pieces of homework done. If students are doing subjects that require coursework, then they should also make sure they are planning to do a certain amount on this each week until the deadline, not leaving until the last minute. Of course, given the frequent lockdowns and isolations at the moment, this planning will need to be altered, but the day should always have a shape to it, otherwise students can easily end up doing nothing.
Find Your Intrinsic Motivation
In these unsettled times, relying on extrinsic motivation (external rewards) can be an uncertain method. Promised holidays and treats may not be able to take place, and these ultimately tend to be a short-lived method of motivation anyway. Now is a great time to get your child to think about what really motivates them, and what they would like to achieve in their life. They do not need to have everything planned out, but asking some questions now about where they think their path is leading them, can help them to see how school and education will play a part in this. Education is a tool for them to achieve their goals and find happiness and fulfilment, not a punishment that is being inflicted on them. The journey may sometimes involve having to put up with elements we are not so fond of, for example subjects we do not enjoy, but if we understand where we want to end up and why it will make us happy, then we will able to keep going, even when times are hard.
Get a Vision
A popular activity at this time of year is to produce a vision board, although it can be done at any time. This is a really fun activity that can help you feel inspired about the year ahead. All you need is some cardboard, and a collection of magazine images or photos printed from the internet. The idea is to make a collage that represents the things you would like to have in your life in the upcoming year. Our brains respond to visual stimuli, and the more our subconscious is exposed to these visions, the more likely it is to make this happen for us. Again, your child may not have specific goals in terms of their career, but it is still helpful to have discussions around the future, and remind them that they can control the path their life takes, but they need to start taking the initiative now.
2020 was a year that threw countless challenges at all of us, and no one is really sure how 2021 will work out, but it is important to remind our children to focus on what they can control, and surrender what they cannot. Here’s to a more positive year ahead for us all!
P.S If you would like to help your child build their confidence in English in 2021, then get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how Bright Sky Tutoring can help!