Labor Day: Working Toward Reading Goals

Labor Day is just a couple days away, and school has begun. This holiday originally came about as a response to employers for long hours and poor wages. Today, however, Labor Day is a time of rest, relaxation, and for many…setting goals. Why not let this holiday inspire you to find ways to help the students you work with stay focused and achieve their reading goals?

The Importance of Effective Goal-Setting

Setting a goal is not as simple as having an idea of what you want to achieve. In fact, statistics have shown that New Year’s goals fail 92% of the time. A lack of clarity and relevance is often cited as the main reason goals fail…and those are goals set by adults. Young students often need more help in setting effective goals.

Setting goals is the first step on the road to success, and that’s where you come in. Being in on the goal-setting process from the start gives children a confidante with whom they can commiserate and share successes. It may seem rather daunting, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to help your student.

Methods for Setting and Achieving Goals

Let Them Take the Lead

Students have little control over their lives at this time. Getting them engaged in their own goal-setting can help them own the responsibility of what they need to achieve, and mature. This does not mean you cannot guide them. They probably won’t know what kinds of goals to set. Check out this article on appropriate student goals for reading, so you can give them some ideas if they become stumped.

Try the S.M.A.R.T. Method

We mentioned above that creating specific parameters for a student’s goals will help them achieve them. But how does one make sure they are clear and relevant enough? Try the S.M.A.R.T. method to make the process a little bit easier:

  • S = Specific – is it clearly defined?
  • M = Measurable – can you measure progress to the finish line?
  • A = Action – can you create a plan of action for each milestone?
  • R = Realistic – is the goal challenging enough without being too hard?
  • T = Timely – have you set a reasonable time frame to achieve the goal?

Write it Down

Here’s a fun exercise: have your student write their goal down. They can decorate it themselves, using colored paper, crayons, drawings, stickers, etc. Then have them bring the goal with them to your sessions to discuss their progress.

Encourage, Encourage, Encourage!

Students respond to different types of support. Sometimes they need someone to just tell it to them straight; other times, they need a gentler hand. The following quotes are great for helping you and your student stay motivated. Keep them handy for when your student is feeling particularly frustrated or unmotivated.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
~ Dr. Seuss

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
~ Art Williams

“The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.”
~ Walt Disney


Helping students set realistic and challenging goals is a major key to achieving success as they work through the Education Connection program. To get some other ideas on reading goals, check out this article by Scholastic. Thank you for partnering with Education Connection in impacting the life of a child.

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