Kids should set goals. Here’s how to be strategic about it
Setting goals is integral to school success. And your goals need to be not just smart, but SMART.
Specific: What do you want to accomplish? “I want to get good grades” is vague, so state the goal clearly: “I want to get an average of 90 percent in Filipino by the end of the first quarter.” Measurable: How can you measure your progress towards your goal? “So far, I have received two A’s and two B’s on four quizzes. I need to work on my oral presentation, so I can maintain my average.” action-oriented: Fantasizing about high grades is fine, but they remain elusive unless you take action to achieve your goal.
“To do well in Filipino, I need to read and understand the assigned stories, and do homework regularly. Reading award-winning nonschool books in Filipino will likely also help me master the intricacies of the language.” Realistic: You need to decide whether a goal can be attained in the first place, and then figure out how much effort, time, and other resources you need to expend to reach your goal.
When I was a college freshman, my goal was to learn as much as I could in Math and English, and do my best in other subjects. However, advanced placement classes meant solving math problems and drafting compositions every day, plus homework and papers in other subjects. I was a class officer and a member of the Math Club, and had to juggle frequent activities with schoolwork. I also wanted to be part of the swim team, which meant frequent practice sessions. When I was a college freshman, my goal was to learn as much as I could in Math and English, and do my best in other subjects. However, advanced placement classes meant solving math problems and drafting compositions every day, plus homework and papers in other subjects. I was a class officer and a member of the Math Club, and had to juggle frequent activities with schoolwork. I also wanted to be part of the swim team, which meant frequent practice sessions.
I had always prided myself on time management, but there was no conceivable way that I could do everything equally well. Something had to give, and I did not want it to be my health or sanity. I also realized that college primarily meant academics, and even if I yearned to develop myself holistically, my main aims were learning cognitively as much as I could. There was no way I could sacrifice my studies, so with a heavy heart, I decided to forego the swim team. Looking back now, I never regretted what I did. I would never make it to the Asian Games, but I could be a mathematician. And now, for the last letter in our acronym…
Time-bound: “I want to get honors someday” is not as pressure-filled as “I will work for honors this school year,” but the latter is way more effective. For goals to be achieved, the element of time is essential. How much have you achieved at a certain point? “If I want a 90 percent average in Filipino by the end of the quarter, which is a month away, do I focus more on the textbook, or do I revise my term paper? If both are needed, how much time do I spend on each task?”
Master the Fundamentals
Studying hard is important, of course, but studying wisely is just as essential. If you cannot understand a complex topic, you have likely not mastered the concepts leading up to it. This principle holds true particularly for abstract subjects like Math and Science. Instead of reading the same pages over and over, or cursing your way through each exercise, or worse, giving up, go back to earlier lessons and master the fundamentals. Learn to seek help when needed, and remember that often, the best tutors are your peers in class who understand the lessons. Don’t hesitate to ask them for help. Come to school prepared, having read the texts and done the homework. Do not cram, but study steadily, way before exams. Avoid cheating, but ask for help when needed (outside exams). Learning new things is not comfortable, but then again, most things worth doing are worth getting out of our comfort zone for. With the proper mindset, habits, and support, learning can be enjoyed. Study hard, and also study smart.
Written by Queena N. Lee-Chua
Dr. Queena N. Lee-Chua is a Professor of Mathematics and Psychology at the Ateneo de Manila University, wife to Smith, and mother to Scott, who already has written six travel books called Scott Lee-Chua’s Top Ten Travels. She is the author of The Filipino Family Surviving the World (co-authored with Dr. Ma. Lourdes “Honey” Carandang) and a compilation of her column in Working Mom, Home Work: Everything Parents Ask About School. Email Queena at blessbook@ yahoo.com.
This article was published in a recent issue of Working Mom, ABS-CBN Publishing's lifestyle magazine for women professionals who balance motherhood and their careers. Click here to subscribe.