Having Students Set Goals – Developing New Habits

I’ve been talking the last few posts about helping those we teach to develop new habits, inspired by a book titled The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. One of the things the author talks about is the importance of people taking ownership of the process of developing new habits, beginning with the notion of setting goals for themselves. By setting goals for yourself, you internalize motivation (as opposed to all of the motivation having to come from an external source such as a boss, a coach, or a catechist).

It occurs to me that it might be helpful to invite young people to identify and articulate goals at the beginning of the catechetical year. My inclination would be to provide a list of “habits” for living as a disciple of Christ – habits that would be age-appropriate and measurable – and invite young people to select or prioritize them with the option of adding some of their own. Then, young people can be invited to keep a journal in which they track their progress through the year and write thoughts about their experiences.

Here are a few “habits” that I might include for intermediate age kids. What other habits would you suggest?

With God’s grace, I hope to achieve the following goal(s) this year in religious education:

  • begin and end my day with prayer
  • recall from memory the Ten Commandments
  • practice an act of kindness each dayCan I help?
  • regularly attend Sunday Mass
  • become involved in an ongoing service activity at my school or parish
  • go out of my way at least once per week to reach out to someone who’s hurting
  • participate in a liturgical ministry such as altar server or reader
  • regularly read the Bible
  • recall from memory the Act of Contrition (or another prayer _______ )
  • learn to pray the Rosary
  • begin recycling at home

Add your suggestions in the Leave a Reply feature below!


 [photo courtesy of Andrea R via Compfight]

About Joe Paprocki 2521 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

4 Comments on Having Students Set Goals – Developing New Habits

  1. Your suggestions are very good. I would have to tailor them to a 3rd grade class as there are many they would not be able to complete.

  2. A great idea! After all, we do encourage them to set academic goals. Spiritual goals are way more important!

  3. I go out of town for a few days and look what happens — what a great series of posts! I can apply these ideas also in my homeschooling.

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