Setting goals is a good thing. We set goals for business, for our home, and for our finances. New Year’s resolutions are basically goals we set for ourselves. A “to-do” list is a set of daily goals we intend or need to accomplish. So why not set goals for your home school and your students as well?
Why set goals for your home school?
- Goals give us a purpose. Without a planned purpose, we don’t make progress. We tend to stagnate, never really accomplish anything or move forward. Goals provide purpose for us. They act as reminders of what we are doing and why we are doing it.
- Goals give us direction. Schooling our children should have more direction than just getting through the books for the year. Assignments should have direction and purpose other than just completing the work. Where are we headed with this study or this assignment?
- Goals give us focus. What do we really want our children to learn from a book or a lesson? What are the most important things to learn from a chapter? Setting out goals for their learning helps us to focus on the reason for the study.
- Goals allow us to measure progress. How can we adequately determine progress if we don’t know where we are going or what we are trying to do? Setting specific goals allow us to determine if we are making progress towards the desired outcome.
What time frame should we have for our homeschool goals?
Set Long-Term Goals
Setting long-term goals allows us to see the “big picture.” How long is a long-term goal? These goals could be set annually, or they could reference your child’s entire academic life. Long-term goals could also target a range of school years, like elementary school, middle school, or high school. Long-term goals may be subject-oriented, like reading or math, or they may address character issues, like kindness or respect.
Set Short-Term Goals
Short-term goals are for shorter time periods. What do I want the kids to get from this chapter in the science book? What do I intend that they learn from this book study? I want my kids to learn these five key things from our unit study. These are examples of short-term goals.
When should you set goals for your home school?
- When you begin homeschooling – This might be at the beginning of kindergarten, or it could be when you remove your child from school and start teaching at home.
- At the beginning of each school year. – You should begin each school year with goals for the year. What do you intend to accomplish? At least some of these goals should be based on your observations from the previous school year. Where do you want to be by the end of the school year, and how do you plan to get to that point?
- At the beginning of each new semester, or quarter, or chapter, or study. Be intentional as you make your lesson plans for each week or each book or chapter.
Important Reminders about Setting Goals
Your goals should be realistic.
Consider the age and abilities of your child and set goals accordingly for them. Be reasonable in your outlook. While a child might be capable of something, it does not automatically follow that they should do that thing right now. Sure, your brilliant 3rd-grader may be able to read Chaucer in Old English, but that does not imply that he should. Is the material appropriate? Will he understand it?
Your 4th-grader might have memorized all her multiplication tables, but that doesn’t mean she is ready to solve quadratic equations. Be realistic here! If, last semester, your young reader learned to put letters together to read words, then perhaps a realistic goal for this semester is for your reader to read a chapter book by the end of the school year.
Your goals should be individualized.
Each of your children is unique! (I sometimes joke and say that’s a good thing because I could not have handled more than one of some of them!) Each one is special in his own way. Each child learns differently and at a different pace than others. So, treat them like the individuals they are.
Just because your first child learned to read when he was four, that does not mean your next child will do the same. Set goals for them based on where they are, rather than where you wish they were.
Your goals should be specific.
The goals you set for your children need to be specific. Just saying that your goal is to finish the math book by the end of the year is not quite sufficient. What, specifically, do you want them to learn? Are there things that need to be memorized? Make that part of your specific goals for that child. Are there certain skills that require mastery before moving on? Include that among their specific goals. Specific goals bring focus, direction, and purpose to what you are teaching.
Your goals should be measurable.
We said earlier that having goals allows us to measure progress. So, the goals you set should be measurable. Did your child learn the skills you included in your goals? Did she master the concepts necessary to proceed on to the next level? Specific and individualized goals allow you to measure progress.
Also, measuring progress should include more than just passing a test. Although passing a test is important, that should not be the only measure of progress that we use. Some kids have a hard time with test-taking; therefore, that is not the best way to measure what they have learned.
Perhaps a project will display your child’s progress better than a test. A written paper can demonstrate English grammar proficiency, spelling accuracy, logic, and factual knowledge. A chart or table may show mastery of subject material better than a test. And each time a student writes information, the act of writing it down helps to cement that information in his mind.
Your goals should be adjusted as needed.
Remember, goals are not written in stone! They are tools to help you and your child focus on what he needs to learn. Sometimes our goals need adjusting. Maybe our goals were too optimistic for reality. Perhaps you faced some family emergencies that affected your school schedule. Then, your goals may need to be modified.
To summarize – Setting goals for your home school is a good thing. Goals help to provide purpose, focus, and direction. Your goals should be specific, individualized, realistic, and measurable.
Your goals for your home school and your children should be unique to your home school, your children, and your needs.
Looking for more homeschooling information? Check out these posts: