Happy 2017! We’ve embarked on a New Year and the time when we are identifying our goals and working hard to stay on track to achieve them! Whether you aspire to be a parent that finds more balance and structure in daily routines, an educator that inspires your students to reach their greatest potential, or a healthcare professional that helps children and families find hope and healing…Now is a good time to refocus and rejuvenate our efforts toward reaching our goals.

It’s important to remember that as you’re aspiring towards your goals and dreams, you’ll be inspiring the children in your life to work towards their goals and follow their dreams too. When you nurture their curiosities and passions, you’ll foster an environment for their big dreams to flourish.

Soooo much talk of resolutions and goals for the New Year. Is there really anything notable about New Years as the time frame to establish goals? Well let’s consider some statistics…

Although that statistic is not inspiring (sorry)…With regard to our personal goals, a New Year often does symbolize a new chapter. It can inspire us to reflect on our triumphs and challenges over the past year, and contemplate and plan our goals and dreams for the next.

But goal setting and goal achievement is really occurring year-round. And there are so many goals beyond the context of our personal goals. For children, especially our children with special needs or complex medical conditions, the goals being established by the professionals supporting them and their families can be numerous and overwhelming.

Consider that a typical Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Interdisciplinary Care Plan could include:

Academic Goals, Language Goals, Behavioral Goals, Social-Emotional Goals, Self-Care Goals, Independent Living Goals, Medical Goals, Clinical Goals, Family Education Goals, Therapy Goals, Language Goals, Feeding Goals…

The list and these plans can be long, overwhelming, and maybe even daunting.

Let’s also remember that Goal Setting and Goal Achievement is very different for adults and children. Consider these two simple, everyday life examples:

How do we align the adult and child’s goals? How do we enhance healthy development and positive relationships with the children entrusted in our care? How do we teach children that setbacks, mistakes and/or veering off track is part of every journey toward a goal? Despite our instant gratification society, achieving goals takes perseverance, patience and lots of encouragement (as well as many attempts) to stay on track.

Child Inspired’s illustrated neutral zones help children understand this important lesson with fun, positive visual techniques.

What’s involved in establishing a goal or goals? What inspires us to work toward a goal? What helps us sustain our motivation? Our perseverance? Our focus? What supports are present to help us in the pursuit of our goals?

What seems so simple, is really quite complex.

Thanks for joining us for the first part of this series on Reaching Goals & Achieving Potential, as we work together to bridge the needs of children, families and professionals on this topic.

As an Occupational Therapist, a large part of my role requires that I establish goals with my clients, measure those goals, modify those goals, and of course, help my clients achieve goals and reach their greatest potential. My role requires my contribution to Individualized Care Plans in both medical and educational settings. These formalized plans require each professional working with an individual to contribute to the establishment of goals based on assessment data and current function. Each professional wears a slightly different lens and contributes a slightly different perspective that is intended to provide the richest knowledge and planning in order to deliver quality, individualized care and education.

Unfortunately the complexities of this process can often result in language and jargon that is overwhelming to parents and families. And the children that we are often trying hardest to help are often unaware of, or confused, by the planning occurring for and around them.

In healthcare and education, insurers and regulatory agencies require goals to be measurable, with documentation of quantitative data, to enhance accountability and measure incremental progress in order to justify reimbursement.

Even with every effort to involve our clients in the process of establishing goals and monitoring their progress towards these goals, it remains a challenging endeavor. Medical teams and educational teams are often overwhelmed by the goals they must address and help their clients achieve. Shortened length of stays, complexities of medical conditions, severity of behaviors…create additional challenges to goal achievement.

But by bridging the communication gaps between children, families, and professionals serving children in medical and educational settings, we have a unique opportunity to increase the awareness and understanding of each other’s goals and processes, and create child-centered strategies that help children achieve their goals and greatest potential.

So what meaningful goals are important to you and your children in 2017? Tell us and tag #childinspired for a chance to win Tools for Teachers & Parents for YOU, and 5 Get Well Maps for a pediatric healthcare facility of YOUR choosing!