It's that time of year when papers ,magazines and social media is full of setting yourself goals for the year ahead. None of the media are talking about setting goals for dyslexic children, but is this something you should be considering? This post will look at why you should consider setting goals, how to do this and the benefits of doing so.
Why set goals?
I like to set myself goals so that I can measure how successful I have been that week/month/year. When you have a dyslexic child, it can be easy to focus on the weaknesses so setting goals and reflecting back on how many goals have been reached can make it much easier to focus on progress and the positives in your child's education.
It also allows you to know when strategies and interventions that have been put in place to help your child are actually working. If you don't set goals, then weeks, months and even years can slip by and then you realise that your child isn't making steady progress.
Longitudinal research at the Frostig Centre has also shown that goal setting is one of the factors that lead to success for the dyslexic students that they followed ( along with self awareness, pro activity, perseverance, social support and emotional stability).
How can you set goals?
To be effective, it is agreed that goals should be:
Specific - so instead of stating that your child will read better you would look at the skills required for reading and put something like ' my child will learn the sounds of the first 10 letters of the alphabet' or ' my child will verbally identify the start sounds of spoken words'. Once the goal has been reached, then you can think about the next part of reading that they need to work on and set that as a goal.
If you think these goals are too technical, then you can set a goal of reading 3 pages of a book with your child every night or learning the first 3 facts from the 6 times table. The key point is to be specific rather than just 'learning times tables'.
Measurable- this follows on from being specific, because if you have been specific then you can also measure whether the goal has been achieved. You can see whether your child now knows the first 10 sounds of the alphabet or the first 3 facts of the 6 times tables.
Achievable - this one goes without saying really. It is better to set an easier goal that your child can achieve than to set one which is unrealistic - it is important to set up your child to succeed rather than to fail.
Realistic - this goes in hand with being achievable. Is it realistic for you to read 2 chapters of a book every night or are you more likely to be able to read 3 pages with your child? The more realistic the goal is, the more likely you are to actually do the reading and the more likely that the goal will be achieved.
Time bound - this is how long will it take your child to learn what you have set as the goal. The idea of putting a timescale to it, is that you are more likely to work at the goal than if it is open ended.
What should you set goals about?
As a parent, I wouldn't really expect you to set the same type of goals that a school should be doing. However, start with the area you most want your child to improve - is that reading,spelling ,writing or maths? Perhaps anxiety and behaviour are the areas you want your child to improve on. Then think about how you can get them to where they need to be - if you want them to be better at writing then break down the writing process and set a goal for one part at a time.
If your child is at secondary school, then setting goals together is better. Your child may have little experience of goal setting so they will need help and guidance here. What do they want to improve on most? Break down that process for them and put a goal in place for a small part of the process. When your child feels involved in their own learning and is being proactive in helping themselves, they will also be more successful.
In summary, goal setting is a way of keeping track of what is happening with your child's learning. It enables you to celebrate all those small wins along the way and ensure your child is always moving in the right direction.
Your child will also experience success and small wins to help with their motivation.
If your child isn't achieving goals then it also gives you the opportunity to discuss that setbacks are normal and that they can reflect on what has happened and think about how they can move on. There are always setbacks in life and perseverance is a good life skill.
If you would like to receive more ideas, help and strategies for your dyslexic child, then you can join my free Facebook group here.
If you would like to know which books we are spotlighting this week which we think may help your child get into and enjoy reading, please click here.