Growing Bookworms – Setting learning goals with your child

Just like adults, children benefit by setting learning goals for the year or even the term. Goals give all of us something positive and definite to work towards and we feel a sense of achievement when we meet our goals.

At the beginning of the school year, parents should sit down with their child and plan some goals for the year. This goal setting process should include identifying the specific areas the child needs to work on and the setting of realistic and achievable goals in order to measure progress in those areas. If your child is struggling with maths, for example, there is no point in setting a goal of achieving a distinction in the first term of the new school year. A reasonable goal would be an increase of 5% for each term, which will allow the child to improve his/her understanding of the subject and gradually build on their successes. By setting achievable goals your child will be motivated to work towards them. Unrealistic goals are demotivating and set the child up for failure.

It is also better to set goals that are unrelated to specific grades and performance measures as this destresses the goal setting process for your child. Goals that shift your child’s learning objectives and focus from passing tests and exams to a greater understanding of the topic and appreciation of the value of the subject matter result in a better attitude towards learning. In this way, a child that dislikes a particular subject because of anxiety issues can learn to enjoy the learning process involved in tackling the subject and learning material. A positive attitude makes all the difference to a successful learning outcome.

Parents need to be sensitive when discussing areas of academic weakness with their child and ensure they do not compare one child in a family unfavourably to another. Children are all different and have their own talents which may differ dramatically. It undermines a child’s self confidence if they feel their performance is being measured against that of a sibling. Comparing children can also make them both feel that their parents love is conditional on good grades and academic performance thereby increasing anxiety and stress even in strong academics.

Goal setting should always focus on the future and not reflect negatively on the past. If the child has had a bad term and failed a subject, the goal should set out positive steps to improve performance and not focus on a bad result that can’t be changed. Ask your child how they can use the learning experience of the difficult test or exam to do better next time.

Goals don’t have to be academic in nature. A child that is exceptionally shy can set goals to try and participate more in class activities and discussions. A child that is not sporty can set a goal to play a non-competitive sport for a term. After all, learning is not only about academics, it is also about learning to be a good citizen and contributing positively to society.

What do you think? Have you ever set goals with your child? Let me know in the comments.

This morning, I came across an excellent post by Bella from Thoughts ‘n Life blog about goal setting. It offers some good advice which you can read here:

Thinking about goals setting and keeping children focused and positive brought to mind this song from the movie Annie:

About Robbie Cheadle


Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle



Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


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49 Comments on “Growing Bookworms – Setting learning goals with your child”

  1. marianbeaman says:

    You know I’m all for creating bookworms. Although I didn’t consciously set reading goals for our children (school did that!), from the time they were wee ones, they sat on a rocking chair with me after I called out in a singsong voice: “Come to the story book chair!”!
    As adults they are avid readers, and so are their children.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Marian, that is wonderful to hear. I think goal setting is more relevant now than it was when we were at school. I did was encouraged to set certain goals when I was in high school, but I also did it with teachers and it wasn’t as prevalent as it is now. I think that modern children experience a lot more academic pressure at school than I did, and children struggle to determine reasonable objectives for themselves. It is the same for many parents who are obsessed with their children’s academic performance. It is really rather sad all around.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Love advice Robbie, it so important for parents to be sensitive with children and not compare. A lovely, compassionate, and practical piece.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Learning is fun, but that ‘goal’ seems to escape some/many. I like these ideas–to put the ‘fun’ back in ‘learning’ (there has to be a cleverer way to say that).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    Today, I am over at Writing to be Read with the month’s Growing Bookworms post about Setting learning goals with your child. Thank you for hosting, Kaye Lynne Booth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Chel Owens says:

    Good advice, that I didn’t follow last time I checked up on grades with my son. :/ I’ll apply it next time!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Chel, it is hard as a parent not to get fixated on grades because we know how important they are in the longer run. It is not easy to push our own anxieties down and support our children appropriately, but it is important for their mental health and does result in a better outcome.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Jan Sikes says:

    This is such a wonderful post with practical suggestions and ideas to create bookworms. I love that all of my grandchildren are avid readers. Somehow it just seemed ingrained in them. Thank you for sharing! And thank you, Kaye Lynne, for hosting!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for stopping in, Jan. Robbie’s tips for “Growing Bookworms” are always spot on. She knows of what she speaks, because she also lives it. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    • HI Jan, I don’t think a love of reading is genetic or ingrained, it is something that is developed by interested parents and grandparents who love to read. Your and your children are to be congratulated for raising bookworms.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Robbie, I have to jump in here. I believe a predisposition for reading is ingrained, but the love for reading is fostered through supporting adults. But I’ve seen children with a predisposition for reading who were raised in a home where a love for reading was scorned as a waste of time rather than fostered. The love of reading still developed as the children were determined even if they could only sneak in a small bit of time to read here and there when no one was looking. It didn’t die or go away. So, I think that it is a bit of both.


  7. Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful post, Robbie. When I was teaching, I saw what happened when adult students hadn’t set learning goals all through school. All they saw was the grade, and they completely missed the point of the course content, thereby cheating themselves out of improving some critical work skills. It was such a shame.

    Liked by 2 people

    • HI Liz, unfortunately, that is how our society works and the tested outcome is the way academic success is measured. Of course, it is a poor way of measuring because I have worked with excellent academics how can’t apply anything they have learned in a practical way which completely nullifies the purpose of the learning. I considered enrolling for an economics degree and also a literature degree but decided that I prefer to self study and apply my learnings in my work and writing. I don’t need the academic accolade as I don’t value it that highly, to be honest.

      Liked by 2 people

      • In the US, standardized testing to “hold teachers accountable,” did incalculable damage to K-12 education. In my own career, I found to my surprise that I had a leg up on many of my colleagues by having majored in English and taken extra history and writing courses. I’d learned how to write and to think analytically. I’d also learned how to learn.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, Robbie!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. memadtwo says:

    I have to say I never did this with either of my children. But I myself am not a goal setter. I told them school was their job and responsibility and I participated in school activities, but I’m not sure how or why they did so well. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Kerfe, everything in life is different for every person. Goal setting works well with some people and is not required by others. This post was aimed more at demonstrating to parents a better way of drawing a good outcome from children who might struggle with learning, than anything else. A lot of modern parents fixate on grades and, most tragically, break their children’s confidence by setting unrealistic grade goals and comparing them unfavourably to siblings and friends. It can deeply undermine a child.

      Liked by 2 people

      • memadtwo says:

        That’s true. They fixate on grades and test scores because the world does. It’s up to the parent to let their child know that they are not a test score. But it’s difficult when schools and their peers tell them they are. (K)

        Liked by 1 person

  10. BERNADETTE says:

    I never had any luck with goal setting for reading with my boys. What worked for me was tricking them into reading by very carefully selecting books about their interests. It wasn’t easy but was worth the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Toni Pike says:

    That is fantastic advice, Robbie. A wonderful idea. Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Norah says:

    Great advice about goal setting, Robbie. Progress is definitely more important than a mark.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. My eldest son was quite capable, but disinterested in most subjects at school. To make him study and improve his grades we promised him a bike at the end of the school year. That worked! He had no trouble concentrating at college, as by then he was interested in his subjects.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. As close as we got to reading goals was a reading hour that my kids to this day love. We even do it virtually!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Terrific advice for parents, teachers, and anyone else who has such a commanding influence on children. With more and more children being brought up with goal setting, there will be more and more children being raised in the same fashion. You are shaping the parents of the future!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Annette, I hope that the parents of the future do go this route of setting reasonable and achievable goals. I see a lot of pressured kids at the schools who have parents who are have expectations that don’t fit the child in question.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. olganm says:

    I don’t have children, and my parents never set goals for me (I was terrible at sports, but did fairly well everywhere else), but I like your advice, especially not focusing on sports and also looking at other aspects, not only academic subjects. Thanks, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Teri Polen says:

    Like your boys, both of my sons also learned differently, Robbie. It was a learning curve for me trying to figure out what worked best for them, but once we did, it was a successful outcome for everyone. I find it ironic that the younger son who wanted to quit school in fourth grade (I still laugh about that) now plans to get his doctorate degree. Guess school wasn’t so bad after all, lol.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Teri, I have notice a marked change in Greg since he started University. He is so happy. He is doing only subjects he likes and is excelling. He has already planned to do a doctorate, but that may change. I am glad your son also found his learning passion at Uni.

      Liked by 3 people

  18. Jennie says:

    Excellent advice, Robbie. When parents are involved in helping their child on the road to learning, that in itself is a boost for the child. As you point out, goals should be realistic and and approached with sensitivity.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m all for setting goals for adults and kids, Robbie! Even with the 4-year-lold Autumn and 2-year-old Nora, we constantly try to bring them to the next level of learning. For instance, when Autumn was able to do the 8-piece puzzles, we ought the 12 pieces, 20 pieces, and even 50 pieces puzzles for her. We coached her to do the 50-piece puzzle and did it with her. Being a teacher, I’m always ready to give the girls something challenging to do, something fun with learning in mind. My daughter and her husband Will never treat the girls as too young to learn certain things. As a result, Autumn knows all the names of the planet, shapes such as trapezoid, spice names such as paprika, and most of the dinosaur names 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • HI Miriam, thank you for sharing your own experiences as a grandmother. I was the same with both my sons. I read to them and did lots of games and other fun activities with them. It was a wonderful time in my life. I was thinking just yesterday, how did my oldest son get to 19 years old – when did that happen?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Someone make a comment on my Happy Mother’s Day post the motherhood is the best job any mother has had. I agree with it wholeheartedly. Nothing give more joy than investing your life in your children.

        Robbie, I’m sure you’re so proud when you look at Greg and Michael. Yeah, time flies. Greg is 19 years old. I’m sure you still remember the fun you had with them in their young ages.

        Liked by 2 people

        • HI Miriam, I am glad I spent so much time which my children when they were small. The still come and talk to me and we are now good friends which is wonderful.

          Liked by 1 person

        • My daughter remember what we did when she was small. Even right now, she still observe how I do things and follow the way I do it. I also ask how she does certain.

          Yes, Robbie, you and I are fortunate to have such good relationships with our children.

          Liked by 2 people

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