new year's resolutions for students

The start of a new year brings the excitement of new beginnings and a chance to reset from the previous year. It’s a perfect opportunity to consider New Year’s resolutions for students to help guide the coming 12 months. But while the promise of forming new, healthier habits is enticing, it’s important to remember that for goals and resolutions to come true, some work needs to be done to usher it along.

So what exactly goes into setting realistic New Year’s resolutions for students? How can you, as a teacher, tutor, or parent, encourage your students to formulate positive goals and resolutions and actually stick to them? Dedicating a specific class time for setting realistic new year’s resolutions for students can help them develop a growth mindset and provides motivation to finish off the school year strong.

To help kick-start your creative juices, we’ve come up with five fabulous New Year’s resolutions for students as well as some general New Year’s resolutions tips that can be implemented both in and out of the classroom.

The Importance of Goal Setting

Goal setting, in general, is a tried and true motivational tool that helps to give the goal-setter the necessary drive to work towards an intended goal. Once that goal is reached, the sense of accomplishment often endows the goal-setter with even more drive to continue completing other goals.

For students in particular, goal setting helps them be more aware of what is expected of them in the classroom in terms of behavior and learning. When they know of these expectations, they’re more likely to work harder and see more positive results than if they didn’t set any goals in the first place.

The classroom setting provides a valuable motivational tool—if every student is tasked with setting goals, students will feel as though they are not alone in their efforts. Students can inspire and encourage each other in both setting and reaching their goals. In fact, it can be useful to have your students set both class resolutions and individual student resolutions.

Setting goals in the classroom is effective as each student can inspire others to set similar goals. With that said, setting goals in a classroom setting must be accompanied by reminders that not everyone’s goals should be the same. Depending on what students struggle more with at home or in school, their goals should reflect the solution to those issues.

For example, someone who skips breakfast in the mornings may want to make a resolution to remember to eat before school. If your student sets this goal, it would be prudent to learn what lies behind it; perhaps they struggle to eat breakfast because they don’t have enough food in the house—in that case, you (as a teacher) could help that student determine if they qualify for free breakfast through their district, and in so doing, help them achieve their resolution!

Now, let’s explore five New Year’s resolutions for students guaranteed to help them get off on the right foot in the new year.

Five Realistic New Year’s Resolutions for Students

When you ask someone what their New Year resolutions are, they’re typically something too vague (like “travel somewhere new”) or unrealistic (“live off-grid”). While it’s certainly possible to achieve these kinds of resolutions, that’s not the case for everyone.

In general, New Year’s resolutions for students should be realistic, actionable, and achievable. In other words, there should be a specific goal and a clear set of steps to achieve that goal; moreover, those steps should not involve much more than increased effort or concentration on they student’s part—a goal which requires the student (or their family) to spend a great deal of money on supplies is too contingent on outside factors to be dependable.

One way to kickstart your students’ creative juices is to have them write a paragraph on New Year’s resolutions: if they have set them before, what they feel about them, what kinds of things they’d like to do better in the coming year, etc. As you talk to your students about setting positive and realistic goals in the new year, you can offer some inspiration by mentioning these New Year’s resolution examples for students.

1. Adopt Better Dietary and Sleep Habits

Most of us would benefit from eating better and sleeping more, behavioral changes which have an enormous positive effect on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. But changing your diet or sleep schedule isn’t something that can or should be done all at once. Going quickly from one extreme to another (say, going from getting 2-3 hours of sleep a night to getting 8-9 hours nightly over the course of a few days) may throw your body out of whack. Instead, make gradual, consistent changes.

Similarly, dietary habits can be difficult to change. Consider taking small steps (perhaps in January, you only drink soda once a week; then in February, you try a new vegetable once a week, and so on). Students need to have a well-balanced diet in order to support their growing bodies.

It’s important to remember that some families may not be able to afford the necessities for a well-balanced diet, or that students’ poor sleeping habits may be the result of having to care for another family member. As a teacher, you can help by doing the following:

  • Educate students and their families about their options. Schools serve meals through different federal child nutrition programs and these usually include breakfast along with lunch. It’s possible some students may not be aware of their access to a hot breakfast when they get to school.
  • Encourage breakfast. Students who eat breakfast are more likely to store enough energy to stay active and engaged during morning lessons. By encouraging your students to eat breakfast each morning, you’re setting them up for a more pleasant classroom learning experience.
  • Don’t rush students during meal times. According to the CDC, students should have at least 10 minutes after they sit down to eat breakfast and 20 minutes for lunch. Ideally, more time would be given so as not to rush them. Allowing small snacks in the classroom may also be helpful.

2. Try Reading For Fun

While reading is a well-loved pastime for many people, middle and high school students tend to veer away from it for a variety of reasons. They may lack foundational knowledge in certain facets of language arts, have a learning disability, or just feel a general disinterest in the content they’ve been exposed to.

But it’s important to remind students that reading is not just an academic activity! When suggesting this to your students, some may groan, but encourage them to try it out and give them recommendations based on their interests. Remind them that reading content is everywhere and blog posts and newspapers still count. It’s important to stress that they can read about anything they want to. For high school students especially, it can be exciting for them to get out of the “teen” or “young adult” shelves of the library and into the “grown-up” fiction and non-fiction sections.

For more advice on encouraging those groaning students to pick up a book, check out our Tips for Reluctant Readers.

3. Create a Designated Study Space

A quiet and clean space to study in is a great way for students to focus on their work without dealing with any distractions. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate room with a desk and chair and educational posters all over the wall. It can be something as simple as a corner in their bedroom with a beanbag chair.

The most important part of having a designated study space is that it fits the student’s study style. Just like how students have differing learning styles, study styles may vary depending on a few different factors. While some students may thrive by studying in their home, others may do better at a library or a small coffee shop.

4. Try a New Extracurricular Activity

This New Year’s resolution is a good one for any new students in your class, or maybe a student who hasn’t quite found their group yet. Not only will these extracurricular activities help broaden the student’s social skills, these activities may even complement their academic skills, too!

When a student has an outlet like a sport or an afterschool club, they practice life skills that also apply to their academics. These skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity.. According to a study conducted by Texas A&M University, reading and math achievement (along with overall course grades) were positively influenced by a student’s involvement in an afterschool activity.

Consider providing your students with a list of all of the school-sponsored extracurricular activities, making careful note of the ones which do not require previous experience/an audition/a tryout/etc. If you as a teacher have a special area of expertise or interest, you might consider starting a new club, too!

5. Overcome Learning Anxiety

Overcoming anxiety is a worthy and important resolution, but it’s one of those goals that will take a lot of time and patience. Students with a learning disability like dyslexia or dysgraphia and students for whom English is not their native language are especially prone to struggles with some type of anxiety in the classroom.

This resolution is well-suited to be both a classroom and an individual resolution: perhaps your class could set a goal of combating standardized test anxiety. Then, you could work with individuals (or smaller groups) on more specific ways to meet this larger goal. For instance, if you have students who have fallen victim to the myth of “I suck at math”, you might want to review strategies for overcoming math anxiety. Or if you teach ELL/ESL students, you might want to focus on reducing foreign language anxiety for test-takers.

If your students choose this as a New Year’s resolution, here are a few general things you can do to help them along the way:

  • Encourage them to try “expressive writing”. This style of writing will have the student write for an allotted time, usually around 15 minutes, about what is worrying them.
  • Practice any struggle subjects every day. Whether it’s math or reading, utilizing extra practice worksheets or problems will help students reinforce the lesson in their brain.
  • Suggest anxiety management techniques. These range from deep breathing or journaling, to yoga or simply taking a break to calm down.

Finally, if you’re looking for a resolution for yourself as a teacher, consider boning up on your knowledge of how to motivate students for standardized tests. Although you don’t have to share all the details with your class, they may be encouraged to learn that you are setting resolutions, too!

Start The Year Off Right with Piqosity!

Regardless of the resolutions and goals your students choose to make, the best thing you can do as their teacher is encourage them along the way. Fostering a growth mindset in your classroom will not only set your students up for a successful year of goal-reaching, but it also teaches them to constantly strive to improve.

Happy New Year, from the Piqosity team!

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