It’s almost time to go back. Can you believe it? I’ve already started picking up clothes, shoes, backpacks, and mentally preparing to start sitting in my car again for hours a day. But, I’m also excited for my kids – because the beginning of the year is always such a fun time and it’s full of so much hope and excitement.
As a former teacher, I have had more first days of school than most and they were always a fun day (tiring, too). I started thinking about what I wanted my kids to be focusing on this year and put together this cute graphic that gives them an opportunity to reflect on their strengths, goals, friendships and also what they’re grateful for.
I decided to share this on the blog in case you’re looking for an easy, reflective back to school activity that will empower your students to start the year off with a positive mindset and some simple goal-setting.
How To Use This Free First Day of School Goal-Setting Activity:
There’s a pretty wide range of grades that could use this. Pretty much any grade that can read and write, so I could imagine even as early as 2nd/3rd graders could enjoy this and all the way through middle school and maybe even early high school.
There’s space to reflect on a variety of areas, including:
- Things they are good at
- Goals they would like to reach this year
- Books they would like to read
- Things they would like to learn this year
- Friends they care about
- What they are grateful for
- Grade and age, too
It’s simple, intuitive, and won’t require a ton of instructions. I would bet kids would be pretty self directed with this activity.
If I were teaching still, I might use this as a brainstorm activity for a quickwrite that goes into more detail on some of these things. Or, could even use this as a starting point for a longer writing piece on who they are. I loved starting the year my older students with a simple prompt – “Who are you?” The range of answers I received was so compelling and organic. It was far more interesting than if I had given a more defined prompt. If you’re teaching middle or high school students, check out my set ofprintable autobiographical narrative topics.
I’m always looking for ways to encourage my kids to find learn more about themselves, who they are, what they’re passionate about, and how to set goals that matter to them, too.
How To Teach Goal Setting To Kids/Students:
If this is a new idea for kids, start by talking about what goals are and why it’s helpful to have goals. I just explain it by saying that goals are simply something we’d like to learn or do, such as learn to do a cartwheel or progress to the next level in piano. We can have goals for any area of our life: for fun things, such as a vacation we’d like to go on and need to save and plan ahead for, and more serious things, such as ways we’d like to improve in a certain subject at school or at work.
I like to let my kids come up with any type of goal they want – even if it seems frivolous to me – because the process of setting a goal and then working towards it builds positive life habits, even if that goal is to pass a video game.
While we may not always reach our goals, the process of thinking about them and making plans to reach them is very positive. This gives us a clear direction and a strong purpose, both of which are great for improving our mindset. When things get hard (and they will), we can remind ourselves why we are working towards these goals. And, if those goals stop being something that are important to us, we can redirect and make new goals.
While over time, we want to teach kids how to break down goals into measurable steps, this is often something done when kids/students are older and goals will take longer to achieve. This worksheet would be an entry level look at how to set simple goals, such as books they want to read and things they want to learn in the coming school year.
An example from one of my kids, who is in elementary school, was to learn division this year and to get to the next level in their coding classes. On the other hand, one of my kids is drawn to really huge goals that might take their entire life to reach, so I try to encourage thinking about and setting smaller goals that are going to be reachable in the next year or less. The more success kids have with setting goals, the more this can become a positive life habit and skill for them, so even setting a really small goal that can be done in a day or so can make this a motivating exercise.
Plus, younger kids may enjoy coloring the worksheet too, as an added activity, while older kids may have more depth to their answers.
Another way to model goal setting is to make seasonal goals. One thing we do is sit down and make a bucket list for things we’d like to do in the summer. Here’s a link to a free printable summer bucket list.
We do the same thing around Christmas time. Then, we make a plan for how we’ll do these activities. For the summer, it broke down to doing 2 of the activities on the list a week. Each week we would talk again about which ones we could realistically do that week and the kids were great about keeping us all on track. Now, at the end of summer, we have checked off almost all the things on the list – so not only has it been a really positive experience with goal setting, but we’ve made a lot of great memories and have our bucket list to remind us of all the things we did.
Here’s a great one for Christmas that we like, too. You can download that printable here.
Download the Free Printable PDF:
Ready to download the back to school goal setting worksheet? To download the freebie, just click on the image below, and the printable PDF will pop-up. I run it through my shop so that I can host the freebie for less money.
If the image isn’t working, click here to download the printable.
More Positive Printables:
Looking for more positive activities and ways to encourage creative thinking? Here are some more posts with freebies or affordable downloads:
- 3 Free multiplication chart printables
- Free printable I Spy Summer for kids
- 2 free summer word search printables
- Don’t forget to print these free blank comic book pages for the young artist, too!
- 5 empowering coloring pages for kids
I hope you found something fun to use at home or in the classroom this year!
Have a fabulous day,