Recently while shopping, I noticed hurried parents juggling a school supply list, jostling impatient children through the rows of supplies, and negotiating preferences in backpack designs and binder colors while ticking off the budget restraints. Yes. Summer is over, and school is in!

A new school year, new teachers, and classmates kept our home ablaze with activities, yet with an added twist, we had “the talk.”

The talk involved rehearsing the family expectations for the school year: grow in character, cultivate a good work ethic in the classroom, pursue excellence, and make the year memorable for the good. We conclude the talk with a family ritual: writing “the goal sheet.”

The goal sheet was a sheet of paper given to each child to write down a realistic, measurable goal in each area: academics, personal, spiritual, and emotional (i.e., to have and keep a study schedule; to serve on some church or community volunteer project; to complete household chores before watching television).

Next, we would review and discuss their goals and help them work a plan on how to reach the goals by the end of the school year. It was a learning experience for all of us.

Lastly, we asked them to select two or three adults they admire as cheerleaders and coaches from our circle of friends or family. These men and women would listen, pray, and encourage them on reaching these goals. I believe the children rose to the expectations as they took ownership of their plans. There were struggles and challenges, but many victories were realized!

Did it work? Recently, our 29-year-old son — now a pastor, husband, and father of two daughters — honored one of his coaches. He acknowledged that the belief and involvement of this man inspired him to finish well during those middle and high school years. I agree!

Do you have a plan for encouraging your child’s goals this year? Leave a comment and share it with us!