How to Make a Progress Chart

Charts are better for older children and for tracking hard data, like test scores.
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Setting goals can help to motivate positive change. Whether you are a teacher or a parent, helping students set goals and then monitor their progress can help them achieve academic success. Create a progress chart to monitor work toward meeting any kind of goal, from completing homework each night to improving scores in math. You have many options for creating the chart, and different styles will be more suitable for different goals.

1 Determine Age Appropriateness

Some progress charts can be complex, such as graphs that show the fluctuations of stocks and other investments. Others are simple pictures, like the bar of a thermometer filling in with color. Choose a progress chart style that is appropriate for the age of the students. For example, a pie chart might be appropriate for middle or high school students, but kindergartners will not understand the fractions and percentages it represents. Instead, younger students would do better with a simple photo chart. For example, the chart could show a picture of a school of fish in the ocean. Each day that a student goes without talking out of turn, color one of the fish. When all the fish are colored, the student gets a reward, such as a sticker or an extra turn during circle time.

2 Consider the Goal

The style of the progress chart should be appropriate to the goal that you set. For example, if you are monitoring the progress for turning in homework on time, a simple graph chart would be a good choice. Check off the box corresponding to the day of the week and the specific assignment. If you are trying to show weekly progress for turning in homework on time, use a bar graph that shows the percentage of successful days each week. By contrast, if you are monitoring reading comprehension, a line chart showing the fluctuation of reading test scores over time would be appropriate. Set a clear goal, and choose a progress chart style that allows you to measure both gains and losses.

3 Create a System

A progress chart is meant to be interactive, so it should be easy for you to record activity on it. A sticker chart is a great example. Any time that students accomplish something, such as counting to 10, 20, 30 and so on, put a sticker under that milestone. You have a clear marker -- the sticker -- and goal, the number milestone. Charts that require new calculations for every new milestone, such as pie and bar charts, can be harder to update. However, if you are creating quarterly reports for parents or for older students, these types of charts may be appropriate.

4 Set Clear Rewards

Offering rewards can help keep students motivated to meet their goals. Identify clear rewards for meeting specific progress goals, and mark them on the chart. These do not have to be tangible rewards, such as toys or other prizes. Rewards can be things like getting to pick the class game at recess or choosing the book at story time. For older students, it could be getting to leave class a few minutes early or getting out of a smaller homework assignment. Dr. William Sears says that timing the rewards should be relevant to the age. The younger the child, the more quickly the prize should be collected. For example, a preschool-aged child should look forward to a daily reward, and school-aged children should have weekly goals and rewards. Change the chart and the reward frequently to keep children motivated.

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.