1. Remember that time is relative
Many parents ask me why the progress to goal achievement takes such a long time for their children. I begin by questioning the words “a long time”. Each person takes the time they need to accomplish goals throughout life. A goal is learned when it is learned. There is always another goal to follow.
2. Create accomplishable goals
One might question the repetitive goals that students are asked to practice for years and years. I have many students that are literally given the same goals for 5-6 years. When that educator or parent asks me why it is taking so long to accomplish those goals, I would answer “because you have never changed the goal to make it able to be successfully accomplished”. If a goal is not met within a year, it is obviously not a correct goal or is not being taught correctly. A goal must be looked at carefully and re-thought so that it is able to be accomplished by this particular student – hence the term “Individualized Education Plan”.
3. Include your child
Take the time to re-think how your child is presented with each goal. Is it interesting? Does it allow for joy of improvement and accomplishment? Is enough time given to the student to appreciate success? Is the student allowed to take ownership of each goal? Is there time for reflection? Can the student see and feel their own movement forward towards accomplishing each goal?
I find that goals are more easily accomplished if the student has ownership of at least a part of each goal. Make sure to celebrate the forward movement and try not to measure success by other peers.
4. Use independence as a motivator
Most of my students are interested in accomplishing goals. They truly want to be successful and to be able to be more independent. Sometimes I am able to get more buy-in for an undesired goal by simply reminding the student of the independence that accomplishing this goal will give them. INDEPENDENCE, is a golden word. Use it often with your student and allow them the option of accomplishing it with your support. Remind them of the goal and celebrate often when your child is acting independently.
5. Include independence at home
Remember to offer small goals of independence at home too. Can your child be allowed to get the morning newspaper independently? Can your child learn to make a snack independently? Can your child order a meal independently? Allow your child the opportunity to have some small freedoms to enjoy, and cheer when they accomplish them responsibly as well as correct mistakes gently. Give your child the chance to be independent now and they will reward you with taking on other goals independently too!
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Katherine is a seasoned educator with a wide variety of expertise in the field. As a teacher with over 30 years of experience with students ages 3-18, she is also a Certified Elementary School Teacher (K-8), a Certified Special Education Teacher (K-12), an Inclusion Specialist, and a Visual and Performing Arts Specialist. In addition to her credentials, she has also spent 2 years as a House Parent for Severely Emotionally Disturbed teenaged girls (ages 9-18), and has worked with all types of students with various labels including Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, SED, ODD, FASD, ID, ADHD, Schizophrenia, Gifted, etc.