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With the beginning of a new school year, parents, teachers and children alike are preparing for the students’ return.

Whether it be a true, new beginning for a 5-year-old boy, eager yet anxious for his first day of kindergarten, or a 17-year-old girl, bracing herself for a final year with the people who have surrounded her over the past 12 years, most students stepping foot into a school later this month are entering an environment designed to equip them with the skills necessary for future success.

Despite receiving many of the necessary resources, a number of students fail to grasp the educational content and struggle to comprehend any end result after school.

“Goal setting is fundamental to long-term success,” according to Army & Navy Academy’s website. “Goals need to be clearly defined so that people use time and resources efficiently as they strive to reach their outcome.”

With this perspective, parents and other concerned people should encourage students, especially ones who have yet to find a desirable end result, to continue the trend of setting goals and working toward reaching them. This perseverance will inspire confidence, both now and into the future, which is a prominent purpose of schooling.

Throughout their educational career, students are asked to set goals. The goals that many students set, however, rarely stray from the basics of passing a certain number of tests, achieving honor roll at least once, or just making it to graduation for restless seniors.

Students should be pushed to look beyond simplistic goals. This is not to say that these goals always have to be amazing. Teaching students to establish both short- and long-term goals, even for the small stuff, will help young people gain confidence as they master skills and reap rewards.

Parents can model goal setting, and this can happen both in and out of school long before kids reach school age. They can foster a home environment that values learning and skill building. This can range from reading to children from an early age, allowing them to participate in menu planning and preparation, setting up adventures and instilling a sense of curiosity and wonder.

Caregivers can encourage basic self-care skills and introduce academic basics. This includes good nutrition, quality sleep, limited screen time and learning to respect other adults who become invested in students’ lives. Parents who see educators and other school staff members as allies can help pave the way to their child’s future successes.

Young people should be challenged to “think big” and actively pursue an educational journey by becoming more involved. By focusing goals toward getting involved, students are exposed to a wide range of opportunities, allowing them to discover interest or talents they did not know they possessed. By motivating that young kindergartner and rising senior to set goals and be actively engaged in their own growth and development, students will be able to excel in future opportunities.

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Kyra Boston is a senior at East Pennsboro Area High School and has been a member of the Cumberland County Youth Advisory Board (YAB) for three years. She has served on the Leadership Team in YAB for the last two years.