Goal-Setting for the School Year

How to help your kids achieve goals in the new school year with a sensory vision board.

Does your child have ADHD, autism, anger problems, or other issues that get in the way of effective learning? If so, you’re not alone. Many parents struggle with helping their kids succeed academically.

The good news is that there are practical steps you can take to support your child with the goal of becoming an effective and enthusiastic student. One of the things that can be very helpful is a vision board. We’ll talk about how to make one in a minute. First, let’s go over some tips for helping your child plan for a great school year.

5 Benefits of Having a Vision Board

  • Clarifies intentions
  • Improves creativity
  • Provides focused attention
  • Motivates and enhances productivity
  • Increases success

General Guidance for Classroom Success

One primary consideration is setting a predictable daily schedule for your child. Losing focus and engaging in impulsive behaviors become less likely when your kid always knows what’s coming next and what’s expected. Items you can include in your family’s schedule might be meals, homework, bedtime, and exercise.

It’s similarly critical to make sleep a priority, especially for kids with ADHD. They struggle with falling asleep, so a set bedtime and a soothing routine may alleviate sleep problems.

Consider nutrition as well. Opt for foods that are less likely to trigger problem behaviors. Certain food items like caffeine and sugar worsen the symptoms of ADHD and other conditions.

Remember to keep open lines of communication with your child’s school. The better that teachers and administrators understand your child, the more likely they are to be able to provide helpful assistance.


The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to work on goal-setting with your children, and this can be a critical exercise for kids who have difficulty focusing. Encourage them to brainstorm things that they would like to accomplish this year. With two or three good ideas written down, discuss how these goals might be achieved with your child.

When goal-setting, keep in mind the SMART method. The SMART formula ensures that goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. With a specific and clear goal, it’s much easier to plot the steps that must be taken to achieve it.

Writing down the goal, including all relevant details, can be helpful, but it’s even more fun and useful to create a vision board.

Set Goals with a Sensory Vision Board

Perhaps you’ve encountered the concept of a vision board before. The process involves translating one or more goals into visual representations. Many vision boards also rely on words or short phrases.

These elements are designed to help remind the child of their goal and why they want to achieve it. Ask your child to think about what life might look and feel like once they have achieved their goal.

Traditionally, vision boards are created using a poster board or other large pieces of paper. Words and pictures may be cut out of magazines and catalogs, and kids may handwrite certain words or phrases. They might even draw some of the artwork themselves.

Vision boards are still made this way, and they can be a fun, sensory-enhancing experience for kids as they work with colors, scissors, paper, and glue.

Various software programs now make it possible to create digital vision boards, but these provide less of a sensory experience.

By contrast, consider making a physical object vision board if you want to maximize sensory engagement while your child creates a vision board. These are like the dioramas that you may have made for school.

Using a shoebox or other appropriate container, challenge your child to use physical objects to express their goal and what achieving it will look and feel like. This is an incredibly engaging and immersive experience that can require a great deal of thought and determination. Because it is a more involved process, it is more likely to make an impression on your child’s mind, cementing their goal so that they will be more likely to achieve it.

Next Steps

Place your child’s vision board somewhere that it can be seen every day to keep their goals fresh in their mind. Check in every few days or once a week to see how their progress is going. A bright future is upon your child.

Anthony Cupo is a Trained Mindfulness Facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC and has been meditating for over 30 years. Our article is also published in ParentingOC’s Magazine!

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