How to plan a great year: achieving ideas for every month

Father and son walking to school
Help your child be their best every month of the year! Follow these top goal-achieving tips from child development expert and bestselling author, Bernadette Tynan.
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January: teach children the real secret of successful goal setting

“‘I want to be top at maths this year’ seems like a good goal, but for the brain to really get to work on a goal, it needs detail. Which topic is holding me back in maths? How can I tackle it better? What do I need to score for an A? Ask your child to write a goal down, then together using coloured marker pens, brainstorm what you need to do precisely to make it happen. Now your child is ready to write down a real goal, such as: ‘I want to crack multiplication and get 85/100 in my maths this year!’”

February: let children in on the art and science of visualisation

Visualisation is an effective and established technique used by successful people the world over to reinforce and achieve goals. Sit with your child in a relaxed position, eyes closed. Ask your child to imagine the day they achieve their special goal, and paint a really bright and detailed picture of this in their mind celebrating their success. Any time they doubt themselves, point them to that picture in their mind to remind them: they can achieve their goals.

March: enjoy the fresh spring air and celebrate your child’s wins

Spring is a good time to review goals, celebrate your child’s wins – big or small – enjoy the fresh air and set down what still remains to be tackled. Get a good balance between all these things, and you and your children will be reinvigorated and ready to put your best foot forward for the next chapter of the year.

April: time to remind children how brilliant they are!

As school breaks end and it’s into the final exam straight, nerves can get jangling. Time for you and children to let off steam!  Shout out loud repeatedly: ‘I am brilliant, clever and unbeatable!’ Punch the air as you speak and repeat until you are both tired out, start laughing, and give yourself a treat.

May: investigate exams to build your child’s confidence

Exams can be 10 per cent knowledge and 90 per cent strategy. You can’t hit a target until you know what it is exactly. Turn yourself and your child into a super sleuth to find out as much as you can about how each exam works: what gets the most marks and so on. With this knowledge, your child can be 100% confident and focused in planning their revision for better exam success.

June: three steps to help your child combat exam stress

Share with your child these three steps to self-empowerment before they start an exam or test:
1. Take a moment to shut out the world.
2. Take a deep, slow breath and exhale.
3. With closed eyes, ask them to repeat their visualisation and say calmly: I prepared for this, I am smart, I CAN do this!

July: relax, kick back, and reward children with some well earned fun!

Remember that rewarding children for their efforts and hard work is not about spending money, as much as just spending time with them and enjoying each other’s company doing something fun. Pack a picnic basket, soft ball and blanket and head out of town to a beauty spot – bliss!

August: catch up with friends, take a break and enjoy long summer days

It’s a myth that great brains need to be on the go all the time; they need down time too. Plan a day out together, or let children plan a pot luck evening with relatives and friends, and just chill! Mix this with time for them to learn something new like chess, swimming or baking a cake. Your child will reap the benefits of this rest and relaxation later in the year.

September: back to school and a whole new year of opportunity!

Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? New term can mean a new school, new friends and new goals. Time for a pep talk with your child to address all these issues and remind them that this new school or term is fantastic opportunity to set new goals, learn new things and shine!

October: focus on your child’s gifts as well as problem areas

When it comes to parents’ evening, it’s easy to focus on the negatives rather than the positives. Change the balance this year – it takes the stress out of what can be a tense event, and means that everyone, not least your child, is reminded that they have great strengths as well as areas that require more attention.

November: treat yourself to some special ‘me’ time with your child

Dark nights are great time to snuggle up with your family watching a favourite film and eating a favourite treat together. If the weather is more clement, wrap up and kick up some autumn leaves, coming home to a warm drink together afterward. The important thing is not what you do, as much as enjoying some special time together before that mad December rush starts! 

December: party time!

Congratulations! With any exams out of the way and a host of festivities on the horizon, it is time for you and your child to celebrate, pat yourselves on the back and have a blast. You earned it!