Here we are at the beginning of another school year! There is fresh potential everywhere we look: at the crisp new box of crayons, the blank sheets of paper in piles, the eager faces of our students. Soon the newness of “Back to School” will fade into routine, the regular work of consistent, familiar effort. Setting intentions for the school year helps us carry the excitement and potential we feel now into the rest of the year.


An intention is something you plan to do or achieve or a larger purpose for your life. Here are some tips to help your student name those purposes for the year ahead:


Practice gratitude.


Before you start looking ahead, focus on where you’ve been and where you are now. Talk about what you’re thankful for about the past year. Remember ways your student grew. Point out special people in your lives. Recall events that were meaningful. Also name what you’re thankful for today. In fact, starting each day with gratitude is proven to benefit your overall mental health.


Decide goals and write them down.


Consider these guidelines for SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. As you talk about what is important to your student this year, don’t focus on grades or even solely academics. Ask questions like:


What kind of friend do you want to be?

How can you give back to the community around you?

In what ways do you feel called to create (ie writing music, building with Legos, painting, etc.)?

Are there areas in your life that can use work to help you feel more healthy and vibrant (ie nutrition, sleep, exercise, etc.)?


Create steps that will help you get to these goals.


In order to set meaningful and helpful intentions, choose one or two goals that your student would like to focus on and create several steps to getting there. Change doesn’t come overnight, so small, manageable steps are the key to getting to lasting change. For example, if your student’s intention is to focus on being generous with those who are in need, some steps might include:


  1. Offering to help his teacher or classmates when they have a need.
  2. Researching non-profit organizations in the community that have opportunities for kids to volunteer.
  3. Cleaning out his own room and gathering everything he no longer needs but can donate to a charity or give to friends who would appreciate his donation.


Create a one-sentence affirmation based on goals.


This sentence will help reinforce the values behind your student’s intentions and help him own his responsibility in striving toward them. For example, the student whose intention is to be generous with those around him might write down: “I am thankful for all the many gifts I’ve been given, so I want to pay it forward by helping those around me in any way I can.”


Putting this affirmation somewhere your student can see it every day will help instill the intentions and keep it fresh on his mind.


Remember to regularly encourage your student, ask how things are going with his goals, and share with him your own intentions for the year. Working toward excellence is a team effort!


If you’re looking for a school to partner with you on these intentions, check us out. Self Development Academy is a K-8 nationally awarded charter school of excellence with an advanced learning curriculum.  In addition to online learning, we have campuses in Phoenix and Mesa. If you are interested in our schools, contact us at (480) 641-2640 or (602) 274-1910 to get more information. We would love to have you!