Reflection and Goal Setting With Kids

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One of my favorite books is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. And from it, the most memorable piece of wisdom was this– “The best gift an educator can give is to get their students to be self-reflective.”

I’d previously thought that the best gift an educator could give was to teach a child to think. But, Pausch made me reconsider. And now I agree with his statement.

I think about this a lot.

It’s what I want for my kids — for them to be reflective.

Reflection and Goal Setting With Kids

It’s true that the most successful people in this world know their strengths and their weaknesses. Likewise, the most successful students also know their strengths and weaknesses. They will leave a test and say, “I know I got 4,5 and 6 correct but question 3 was I’m not sure if I got right.”

Conversely, ask a poor student who isn’t reflective how he or she did on a test and you’d probably hear, “I don’t know.” Which would be true. They don’t know and haven’t learned how to be reflective.

As parents, we can help our kids be reflective and set goals.

In any season of transition, I like to guide my kids to set goals and be reflective. (New Years, Summer, Fall, etc.)

Here’s what happened when we started simply with these goal setting statements when my kids were younger.

Start with:

Now I can . . . 

Then add:

I want to . . .


So first, you talk about what your child can do. It’s an important thing to notice. Then, help kids set simple, achievable goals for the fairly immediate future. (Something that be achievable in the next few weeks or months.)


Today, my daughter is older. However, her goal-setting looks pretty similar — what she can do and what she wants to learn or get better at. Here’s what she wrote.

goal setting with kids

I post these where my kids can see them every day.

Throughout the next few weeks, I will ask guiding questions about their journey in meeting their goal. This will help them become reflective.

How do you feel you’re doing in meeting your goal?”

“What’s going well?”

“What do you need help with?”

Finally, each child will feel accomplished when she reaches her goal. Talk about building efficacy! Kids will think: I can set a goal and I can achieve it.

What about your family?

How do you set goals and encourage reflection?

Go here to download a free Yearly Reading Challenge Printable.

reflection and goal setting with kids

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11 Responses

  1. I love the reflective piece you share!

  2. I love the idea of setting the small goals that will lead to larger ones, great post! I found your site while I was looking for a good goal setting workbook for kids 9-11 that will help them plan and work through their goals on their own. Since you’ve obviously spent time thinking about this, is there any chance you have any resource suggestions for me? Thanks so much, keep up the great writing!

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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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