Go to teachkidsenglish.com
By Naomi Simmons
Happy New Year from Teach Kids English!
New Year is the perfect opportunity for fresh starts. Traditionally, this is the time when people decide to give up bad habits to lead a better year ahead. People give up smoking, drinking, try to lose weight, or do more exercise, or generally spend more time with the kids. However, research shows that these ‘new year resolutions’ rarely last more than a few weeks and are very quickly forgotten as old habits are very hard to break. The problem is that they are usually too general and it is harder to do negative actions (stopping something) than positive ones (doing something).
Far more successful is to forget ‘giving things up’, which is negative, and instead make some positive resolutions for the year ahead. These need to be very specific things you intend to do or achieve this year. Also adding a specific time makes the plan easier to achieve, rather than the vague ‘this year’. So instead of a general plan to ‘improve my English’, a specific one would be, for example, to ‘read and understand a short novel in English’ and finish it by the end of February”. Instead of a general resolution to ‘lose weight’ this year, a specific plan could be to ‘eat two pieces of fruit every day’. Instead of the general intention to ‘renovate my house’ you could use the specific ‘I will paint the lounge by the end of January, rest in February, then paint my bedroom in March, etc.’
How this can help my child
1. The first thing to remember is that children learn you’re your example. If they see you announcing New Year resolutions that you do not keep, they quickly learn not to take such ‘life planning’ too seriously. So the first step is plan some specific New Year actions for yourself that you are able to achieve, and are sure that you WILL achieve. So make sure you keep them simple, easy to do and most importantly, specific.
2. Discuss your New Year plans with your children. A good time to do this is over dinner, when you are all relaxed and together. Make the plans sound fun. Write your plans on a sheet of paper, with the date when you will complete the action. Your children will then see you doing the planned action and can see you tick the sheet of paper when you have completed it. Encourage all the adults in the house to do the same.
3. Ask your children to each make 1 or 2 New Year plans. As with your plans, they must be positive, specific and achievable in a month or so. Planning for a whole year is very difficult for young children, it is a longer time-frame than they can easily imagine. Also, avoid too many plans, as more than 1 or 2 reduces the chance of success. You can always add more later in the year.
Avoid general resolutions, such as “be better behaved”, “be kinder to my sister”, “go to bed when told”.
Examples of positive ones include:
“I will put my toy cars back in their box every day for 2 weeks”.
“When I get a packet of sweets, I will always offer one to my sister, until the end of January.”
“I will try one new vegetable a week until March”.
For learning English, examples can include:
“I will reach Unit 5 of teachkidsenglish.com by the end of February.”
“I will learn 3 songs from teachkidsenglish.com by heart and sing them to the family with the karaoke version on February 14th”
4. When these things have been achieved by your child, you can tick them off on the sheet of paper. You can also give them a small reward and encourage them to make new plans for the next few months. Make sure that you do the same for your plans. This will teach them the rewards that come from setting yourself goals and objectives and will also learn the importance of personal commitments.
We’d love to know how New Year plans help your family. Please leave us your comments and experiences. We really look forward to reading them.
Lead author of Teach Kids English.