The Importance of Setting Math Goals

Jan 2, 2023 | Centreville

Even for adults, setting goals can seem like a daunting task; reserved for uncomfortable company meetings where they mouth platitudes and go through the motions without feeling any ownership of their own goals. For older teenagers, goal setting may bring to mind their last trip to the guidance counselor where they hesitatingly declared the university they planned to dedicate the next 4+ years of their lives to. Younger teens and children may have even less experience thinking about and setting goals for themselves, instead using the generally accepted milestones set by society as their guide for personal development.


Research shows that empowering students to make their own decisions with regard to their education increases levels of engagement, and is generally associated with improved academic performance (Hanover Research).

At Mathnasium, we know the importance of involving students in the goal setting process. Whether a child is falling behind because they struggle with the material or because they’re not being sufficiently challenged, research shows that empowering students to make their own decisions with regard to their education increases levels of engagement, and is generally associated with improved academic performance (Hanover Research).

While we hope your goal-setting experiences don’t match the scenario listed above, it’s important to remember that your attitude about any subject (whether it be goal-setting or math) can affect how your student responds. Before reading through, and implementing, our tips for setting math goals with your child, make sure you’re prepared with a growth mindset and a positive attitude!


How to Set Math Goals with Your Child

The best practices listed here are based on “The 3 C’s of Goal setting” by Stephen Pauley. For more goal setting resources and alternative approaches, we invite you to visit our blog!

The first step to achieving goals is to make sure you’ve set a goal that makes sense. If your goal involves too many steps, or isn’t measurable, consider breaking it down into multiple goals and defining what success looks like at each step.

Have your student check their goals for clarity by:
⭐ Writing their goal in 1-2 sentences
⭐ Explaining their goal to you, and having you repeat it back
⭐ Creating a plan to achieve their goal with

When it comes to achieving goals and building habits, consistency is key. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your child’s math skills won’t be either. We recommend spending 2-3 hours on supplemental math each week for younger students, and 3-5 hours for students in Algebra and up.

Help your student make consistent progress by
⭐ Displaying their goal is a prominent location, (i.e. on the fridge)
⭐ Reserving time each week to work on their goal
⭐ Setting a dedicated time each day/week to check in on their progress

Once you’ve set your goals, it’s important to be completely committed to them. Pauley recommends asking the goal setter (in this case your child) on a scale of 1 to 10, how committed they are to the action plan they developed. If the answer is anything less than a 10, discuss what would need to happen to increase that number. He states, “by giving themselves an 8 or 9 out of 10 for commitment they are giving themselves an opportunity to cop out and stop pursuing the goal further down the line.”

Help your student feel committed by
⭐ Revisiting goals often, and revising goals as needed
⭐ Maintaining a positive math mindset
⭐ Letting them take ownership of their goals, even if they don’t always succeed


For Help Setting Math Goals, Contact Your Local Mathnasium!

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