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Reader Spotlight is one of my favorite series here on Lil Light O’ Mine. It’s a chance for me to spotlight the readers that come here so often – that write!  My regular contributors are dear friends, but there are mounds of awesome moms out there – stories, insights, ideas and tales that need to be told. This AWESOME idea is one of them. Kate, I just love the focus and intentionality behind clear goals and I know your kids will be benefit so greatly from this! – Courtney

Back-To-School Goals

by Kate Kelly

I love me some planning, lists, and goals.  Even more so, I love a fresh start at organizing, keeping the lists, and dreaming up things to work towards.

Back to School has always been a favorite for me.  I loved getting my notebooks, and planner ready.  Doodling, and filling in dates.  Thinking about the things I was going to do/wanted to do in the year ahead.  Sometimes things stayed organized and stuff got done.  Other times it did not.  At no point did I regret my attempts.

So now that my kids are really in school, and we aren’t just trying to figure out what the heck we are doing as parents of school aged kids, we wanted to help focus our kids.  Since notebooks go in a community pile, and there is no need for planners in elementary school, the least we can do is get after some goals.

No one knows their strengths and weaknesses better than we do.  Before the year even starts and we hear feedback from teachers, we thought we would give them some things to work towards.  These are also things we will pray the Lord helps them in as well.  The hubs and I sat down to chat about a few things (three, in particular) we want each boy to focus on.  I wanted to make it cute, and have it be something they could see daily as a reminder so I grabbed a colored piece of card stock (in school colors) put a decorative strip of patterned paper on it (all things I had laying a round) and wrote out the list.  Once we get their daily folders/binders, we will place the card (possibly laminated by that point) where they see it every day.

After asking my boys permission if they were ok with me sharing some of the things (and getting their approval), I thought I would pass some of those on to y’all for some ideas.

School Year Kickoff

Two of the items on the boys cards were the same, although with a little bit different context.  The first things on both of their cards, was listen.  My oldest tends to speak more than he hears, so we wanted him to focus on listening to people (his teacher, his friends, classmates, etc) more than he talks to them.  We want him to be able to hear people.  No easy feat for an extrovert.  His next word to focus on, is integrity.  The hubs and him have spent a lot of time talking about having integrity.  We want our son to be a man of his word…to be trustworthy.  That others can trust what he says, and that he does what he says he’ll do.

My youngest son sometimes gets caught in his own world, or gets so focused on what he’s doing he has difficulty transitioning to the next task…despite a repeated request to do so.  So his listen is more in the context of paying attention, and making eye contact when people speak to him.  No easy feat for an introvert.  His next phrase to focus on, was follow through.  There is a kids book called Halfway Herbert by Francis Chan.  We got it for him for Easter and it’s been a great fit.  The book talks about how Herbert always does things halfway, and talks through what happens to help him learn how to do things all the way.  We want our son to do things all the way, so we are focusing on following through with whatever he does, whether it be school work, sports, brushing teeth…whatever the task is at hand.

Finally, their last phrase (that was the same) was to be BOLD in love.  For both of them, the primary way we want them to do this, is by sharing their faith.  We believe one of the most loving things we can do for someone, is to share Christ with them, so we want our boys to be willing to be bold in this.  It can also be hard to leave your comfortable spot with friends to go eat with someone new at lunch, or play with them on the playground.  This is the other way we are encouraging our boys to be BOLD in love.  We want loving others well to be something our family is known for.

School Year Kick Off

Each year the boys have orientation, where they meet their teacher and see their classroom.  I get a sitter for my daughter, and after the orientation I take the boys out to a special breakfast/lunch.  We talk through these things, and eat fun food.  They get special drinks and treats.  I remind them that even if they fail miserably at all we are encouraging them in, we love them anyways.  We remind them that they are enough, just the way they are.  We have fun and take silly pictures.

School Year Kickoff

It’s a great way to wrap up summer with some more fun, and transition to the school year.

I hope some of what we do to start our year can help you come up with your own ideas to encourage your kiddos and make the move into the school year…regardless of how you choose to school



Kate is a wife, mom of 3, food lover and maker, sustained by grace and caffeine. You can connect with her on her wonderful blog right here!

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  1. Love your heart for your kids! Will have to remember some of this in a few years when the Ryan girls make it past preschool.

  2. kate – i just love this so much. we talk about SO many things in our house – i know it overwhelms my girls. i bet there is such freedom with making it simple for them. giving them just a few to hang onto. they can’t remember the long list of things we are saying anyway! thanks for this idea. i think mine will feel “free” with a short, powerful list.

  3. This is great! At what ages did you start this? My son is three and in a mother’s day out program, but I would love to simplify this concept for him.

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