The start of a new year is a popular time to pause, reflect, and take stock of what you’d like to accomplish during the year to come. For many people, this happens during the first week of January or the first few weeks of school. But we know that “starting points” can be a moving target and if you want your child to have a restart moment, today might be the day. Helping children appreciate the power of goal setting can happen any time of year. 

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

In this blog post, I’ve outlined a few strategies you can use to have your child capture their goals for the year. I’ll take you through ideas for a movie-making activity and talk about the Adobe Spark tools. I love these since they are free and simple for kids of all ages to use. You can tailor the activity ideas below to children of different ages and apply the idea of goal setting to both academic and personal goals. 

Goal-Setting Activity

There are a few ways to start getting kids thinking about the goals they have for this calendar year, school year, or any chunk of time. You might first ask your child to reflect on their accomplishments. They can start by making a list or talking with you about some big or small things they are proud to have accomplished. If your child has a hard time thinking of accomplishments, give a few examples (big and small) from your own life to allow them time to think of their own accomplishments. It might be tempting to list out all the things you know they have accomplished but give them some time to think first before prompting too much. 

Then, your child can identify a goal they’d like to achieve this year. One format for goal setting you might use with your child is: This week…, This month…, This year… A week/month/year format or something that requires kids to think about the steps they’ll take to accomplish their goals can help them think through how they’ll reach their goals.

Leveraging One Word

A popular way of setting an intention for the year is to focus on one word. For example, last year I focused on the word balance. If your child chooses one big word to focus on like persistence, independence, or determination, you can bring them back to this word when they struggle or need a reset.

You can model this type of goal-setting for your children by focusing on your own one word and a corresponding action item. For example, you could choose the word deeper if you would like to have a deeper practice in a few things you have dabbled in like yoga, gardening, or learning how to code. 

You might use this format:

First, I’d like to __________ . My action item is to __________ . 

Second, I’d like to __________ . My action item is to __________ . 

Finally, I’d like to __________ . My action item is to __________ . 

Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

Capturing and Sharing Goals

If you want your children to capture and share their goals, a video is a great choice for all ages. Students can create a narrated slideshow to talk about their “one word” and their goals. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you could use Spark Video on a Chromebook, web browser or iOS app. Alternatively, you might have your children create a PowerPoint or slide-based presentation and record their voice for each slide, or they could use a tool like Premiere Rush.

Icons to Represent Goals

Visual representations can help children think about the vocabulary behind their goals. Encourage your child to think of symbols that go along with their goals. For example, if they want to learn how to cook this year and their own word is practice you might encourage them to add symbols or icons to their video of their favorite foods. The Noun Project has lots of icons to explore with your children.

Music Connected to Goals

Adding music to a video can change the way kids think and feel about a topic. You might talk to your child about the type of music that goes along with their goal. I like how Adobe Spark video lets kids choose music from different categories to add to their video. Your child can choose music that is uplifting or inspiring. They can also upload their own music if they have created music with another tool like Soundtrap.

As you set goals with children this year and help them share these goals in video format, encourage your children to share their goal-setting videos with friends or families and revisit them once a month to check in on their progress. Goal setting is a lifelong skill you can introduce your children to at any age!

Monica Burns, Ed.D. is a curriculum and educational technology consultant, and founder of She hosts the Easy EdTech Podcast and is author of Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom. Dr. Burns has worked with some of the EdTech companies referenced in this article. Follow her on Twitter here.