Coaching for Kids – Part 2

In this blog, I continue where I left off in Part 1 and look at exploring targets further for maximum benefit.

So you’ve set the target with the child, what’s next?

Part 2 – Exploring targets

I remember setting maths targets with my Y5s. My general policy would be to have their targets in their maths books (or on cards on their tables). I would periodically remind them of these, or tell them at the beginning of a lesson that we would be focusing on their targets, when relevant. I would also use opportunities during 1-1 dialogue to see how they were progressing with the targets. Letters would also go home to parents to inform them of the targets, and when they’d been achieved, along with a suitable celebratory certificate!

Knowing what I know now, I don’t think I went far enough in helping the children work towards their targets. Today, when I work with children on their targets I am reminded of the quote: “A goal properly set is half-way reached” (Abraham Lincoln). So how can we help children explore their targets more fully to give them the best chance of achieving them?

Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Ask them to say what they think their target means

Giving them an opportunity to put it in their own language not only helps you understand their perspective of the target, and eliminate any misunderstandings, but helps them take more ownership of it.

2. Break their target into smaller chunks

For example: Target “To learn the 6 times table”

Step 1: Learn half the multiplication facts (let the child choose which ones!)

Step 2: Learn the remaining half

Step 3: Learn half the corresponding division facts (discussing links between the two)

Step 4: Learn the remaining division facts

Of course, Steps 2 and 3 can be interchanged, and this is only my example. You may have your own way of teaching the various multiplication/division facts. The point is to make the targets easier to learn and less daunting (depending on the size of them!)

3. Set suitable time scales

This is closely linked to step 2 and needs to be expressed in appropriate ‘time’ language for their age group.

If their target is for the term, for example, after breaking it down into smaller chunks, link these to specific time frames.

4. What resources / support do they need

Ask the child what they can already do / what they already know that will help them work towards their target. Follow this up with asking what else would help them achieve their target. It might be about having some specific resources, a friend to help (e.g. with a behaviour-related target), opportunities in lessons to practice / showcase their developing skill, or something else.

5. Identify rewards / incentives

Ask them to think about a suitable reward for achieving their target. Would a certificate be a good idea? A letter to their parents? Extra time on their favourite PC program?

For example: Whilst presenting certificates in assembly is good to highlight success, it may not hit the mark for every child. Some may be daunted by the attention and prefer some ‘quieter celebration’.

Part 3 will focus on monitoring targets.

If you’ve tried any of the ideas in this blog or Part 1, I’d love to hear about them.

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2 Responses to “Coaching for Kids – Part 2”

  1. Julia Chisholm Says:

    What an excellent blog.

    By asking children to repeat what they understand their target to be, any misunderstandings can be quickly remedied. It may be necessary to adapt the language used and this can be an excellent learning point for the adult in the future.

    To break a task into chunks makes the sometimes overwhelmingly impossible suddenly seem more easily achievable.

    It’s important to set timescales that reflect the child’s realistic ability to take on board new information. Everyone learns at different rates, but guidance and support is essential to aid learning.

    I always find that visual aids are useful when working with children, although it’s vital to remember that different people have different preferred methods of learning.

    Incentives and rewards are a great form of motivation, but other methods may be more appropriate depending on intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.

    In my experience this blog rings true both when working with children and within the wider community. Can’t wait to read Part 3, monitoring targets. Thank you for another insightful blog!

  2. Debbie Inglis Says:

    Thanks Julia for your comments. Insightful as always! Thanks also for the reminder about visual aids; could be useful point to consider for most of the tips, particularly no. 3 with younger children.

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