Back to school, part 1


        This is the optimal time for family members to work together to set goals for the new school year. Spoken goal statements are powerful tools that help people to bring them to fruition.

        When setting goals, each member of the family takes stock in her or his actions during the last school year and looks forward to making positive changes.

        Since the adults have a better understanding of this process, they go first so they can demonstrate to the children how it works.

        Maybe you didnít attend any evening functions last year. One of your goals could be to go to three school events this year.

        A guideline to keep in mind is to make the statement with positive words rather than negative ones. Say what you will do rather than what you wonít. Instead of saying, "I wonít be late to school," you say, "I will be on time to school."

        Keep each personís goals not only age-appropriate but attainable. Children need to have some sense of control over what they can do.

        Pre-school and primary grade children can strive to be ready to leave the house on time every day, be responsible to hand in completed homework, remember to give papers from the teacher to parents, bring home lunchboxes and backpacks, and return library books on time.

        Children in intermediate grades and middle school can pledge to pace themselves in the completion of long-term assignments, complete assignments on time, and focus more attention on subjects where grades were low last year.

        High schoolers with more hectic schedules can pay attention to balancing their time among studies, jobs, dating, and extracurricular activities.

        Gently talk with the kids about last yearís problems and see where they can come up with suggestions for improvements. And, most of all, be there to support them in the changes for which they say they want to work.

        Post your goals in a prominent place at home. The refrigerator or a bulletin board is a good place to have a regular reminder of the goals for which all of you are working.

Jay Davidson has been teaching in San Francisco since 1969; he teaches first grade. He is the author of Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents, which is available at and bookstores for $12.95. He can be reached through his Web site at

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

All columns are copyright © Jay Davidson.  Permission is hereby granted for individuals to download and copy them for individual use.  There is a modest charge for printing these columns in any publication.  To receive that permission, contact   Jay Davidson