“A fresh start” was how our family viewed the start of each school year. It was the opportunity to sit with each of our four children, to pray with them, and to hear their goals and life pursuits. We wanted them to believe God for their year. It was more than an exercise of setting academic goals. It was a celebration of past accomplishments and anticipation for the future.

As we sat around either a restaurant table or just relaxing at home, each child was to think through two goals in each category: physical, relational, academic, and spiritual. What measurable goals were they striving to achieve in each area? To be a better friend, to make wise decisions about friendships? To set better study habits, to remain on task with class work? To memorize portions of the Bible that promote good character?

Their lists were to be written in ink and copied on two sheets of paper—one sheet for them to keep and the other sheet for us. When they reached the teen years they were encouraged to select an adult mentor and provide them a copy for accountability as well. We reviewed their progress throughout the year and applauded their efforts even when they faltered.

Responsibility. Character. Integrity. Faithfulness. These were some outcomes in their behavior and life ambitions that we witnessed.