Helping Kids Set and Achieve Goals

One recent win we had was helping T set daily goals that positively impacted virtual schooling.

T’s Child and Youth Worker was motivated – as were we – to get him to participate more in class.

Depending on which camp you fall on, you may find token charts useful or eye rolling in shaping behaviour of kids with special needs.

For us, they are mostly effective tools; although, it has yet to help with T’s ongoing challenges with using the potty, but that’s another rant!

T’s CYW created a simple chart: he had to participate four times each school day to earn his Switch at the end of the school day.

The system worked like a charm. We saw a kid who was hesitant to participate – sometimes having explosive rage meltdowns when we asked him to – to a kid who was motivated and even felt good about sharing his thoughts.

As we started to see this slow positive change, I thought about other ways we could use goal setting in T’s day-to-day life.

It is very important to me that T develops a good work ethic. I am mindful there will be challenges as a result of his prognosis, but I refuse to let it limit him from reaching his potential.

I am aware that despite the best efforts of his teachers, kids will generally be behind because of the setbacks from the pandemic.

The hubby and I are using weekends to keep the learning happening with T.

We don’t overdo it, because we all need to have fun and rest too: 20-30 minutes of reading and a little bit of math and writing practice.

We work on it first thing in the day, while we’re all fresh and T is at his peak and less grumpy self.

We also remind him what he’s working for: time with the Switch or tablet, as well as swim time at the outdoor pool.

And miraculously, T is often agreeable and the meltdowns have been minimal – when we make it clear to him what he’s working towards.

T’s writing has come a long way. He is now using a pencil instead of a crayon. He still needs to press harder, so his writing is not so faint. But what a difference in terms of legibility.

Reading is a work in progress for T.

I asked T’s teacher if she’d be willing to lend us a summer’s supply of books that we can work on with T. These books are simple and short with repetitive structure and a focus on sight words.

Thankfully, she agreed and I pledged to reimburse any book that we lose or damage. This is going to make a world of difference in helping T avoid the summer slide.

I will say, the hubby and I are especially proud of how far T has come with math.

We have read that individuals with FASD often struggle with math. So far, knock on wood, T has been doing well.

He recently started to do one digit addition and subtraction and blew us away when he seems to be able to doing the calculations in his head (he does get very upset when he gets the answer wrong, so we’re working on teaching him it’s ok to make mistakes). Let’s hope this keeps up!

From a math workbook we bought from Costco.

We try hard to be consistent with showing T what happens when he doesn’t put in the work.

We’ve had several days when he didn’t fully participate. So while we didn’t make him feel bad about having an off day, we followed through by not giving him his Switch.

The resulting tantrums tested our patience but we stuck with it. Somehow, I think T understood why he didn’t get his Switch.

If I seem like I’m showing off a pony, I guess maybe because I am! But really, it’s more because I’m so proud of how far this kid has come.

Parenting T comes with soul-draining challenges – and still does! So when we find something that works, we really take the time to celebrate and relish the moment.

While we don’t use exact words like “setting goals” with him, we try to show him through actions what we expect from him.

Most importantly, we try to have fun at the end of each day as a reward for T and ourselves. Fun in the pool, family hikes in nature, McDonald’s Happy Meals, ice cream sandwiches, free time with the Switch and tablet, and so on.

Speaking of goal setting, summer is here! Our main goal is to relax and have fun. May it feel like a long dragged out summer in the best of ways!

There’s a very good chance we’ll get to visit T’s grandparents in the East Coast this summer. Our last visit was in 2018 (pictured above)!

16 thoughts on “Helping Kids Set and Achieve Goals

  1. What a lovely goal to set for you and your family this summer. Fingers crossed travel opens up in Atlantic Canada! That’s amazing to hear that you’ve found a system that’s working well for T. It’s always nice to know what you’re working for as it helps provide some much needed motivation sometimes. And good for you for being consistent and following through. Have a wonderful relaxing weekend and start to the summer!

    1. Thanks L! We try very hard to keep his schooling up because we know at some point, he may fall behind. So doing everything we can to be proactive but also enjoying our summer!

      And yes, a good chance we get to visit the East Coast in August. The downside is we’ll have to forfeit our Northern Ontario roadtrip. Boo. But I’m happy we’ll get to see our in laws. It’s been too long!

      Enjoy your weekend! 😊

      1. For sure. Northern Ontario is beautiful, but it’ll be nice to get a change of scenery since you visited last year. Plus, it’s always great to visit family, especially since we haven’t had too many opportunities to do so since the start of the pandemic.

  2. Please congratulate T for me for doing amazing. And congratulations to you and your Hubby for being such inspiring and wonderful parents. Behind a successful child is a loving parent who inspires them to be their best version of themselves. Behind every happy child is a parent who taught generously, patiently what’s truly important in life. To set goals is important because it motivates us to be better, brighter, happier. Something that applies to all of us inversely. Take care my friend and have a adventure fun filled weekend. ☀️

    1. Thank you! 😊 We always say he’s a hard kid to raise but such an easy one to love. And as we ended his kindergarten journey, there’s so many reasons to celebrate. Gonna enjoy our summer now and worry about the trials of Grade 1 when the time comes. It’s been a nice weekend so far too! Hope you have a good one too. 😊

      1. Happy Summer. It wasn’t long ago my son was in Grade 1 , now he is turning second year high school. Miss those younger days sometimes.

      2. Time does fly, eh? I know that I am going to have one of those moments such as yours before I know it.

        Congrats to your son for finishing his school year. What a challenging one eh? Hope he gets lots of downtime and rest this summer.

      3. He wants to keep doing the online schooling but reality say’s, time to go back to the real world next school year. The news says Delta variant is increasing but Bay Area and SF may not be as affected because of high vaccination rates so more likely back to classroom. Still need to be cautious however though sometimes I myself forget theirs still the virus lurking around. Happy Summer my friend. We try to enjoy everyday and make every minute count.

      4. I think you have a healthy and pragmatic perspective. Covid is going to be with us likely for a while with new variants making the rounds. With high vaccination rates, continued safety precautions, we can slowly resume normal life again.

        I can also understand why your son wants to continue with virtual learning, but your parental instincts to get back to the real world is a good one! I’m sure as a family, you will make the choice that is best for your son. Best wishes! 👍

    1. Thank you, Diane! I actually got accepted into a teaching program for university but took a different path instead. Maybe in another life. 😄 This kid has done so so well and we do hope to maintain the momentum in a less formal and fun way this summer. 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

  3. I remember trying to potty train Willow. I made a reward chart and stuck it on the wall but it didn’t work, the only thing she responded to was chocolate buttons!
    She also still gets extremely upset if she gets something wrong, so it’s great if you can teach him about making mistakes early on.
    You’re doing a fantastic job x

    1. Thanks Juliette. We try to do our best. 😄 It really does come down to find something that motivates them, eg? Chocolate buttons, I’ll have to try that! And yes, potty training is another rant. 🤣 Take care.

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