Whatever stage of homeschooling you may be at: just starting out, hanging on in there or stopped weeks ago and you’re looking for new inspiration to get started again – setting goals will help give you the focus that’s needed. Why not join our group on Facebook to chat with other parents? You can also download the goals template from our Free Resources page.
Setting Goals – Preparation is key!
Tip: Before a teacher starts to plan a lesson or produce any resources, they will do their best to find out as much information as possible about the children they will be teaching. This is a good place to start at home too. Before a single resource is purchased, before a pound is spent, take a closer look at your children. What do you know about your child and your child’s learning? What are their strengths and what progress have they made over the past year (their successes!). What areas do they need to improve on and how do you need to stretch them?
Only after those areas have been considered can you and your children create a set of homeschooling goals for the upcoming month. From those goals you will then know what materials will be needed and what time you need to set aside for each child. But it all begins with the child.
The ‘plan your homeschooling goals’ worksheet is broken down into three sections. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
1. Strengths- The first area is a place to record your child’s strengths. In this area I encourage you to list the areas where your child excels and those they have made significant progress in throughout the year. This is important for a few reasons. First, when a child has a strength in an area, say mathematics, that doesn’t mean we can sit back and relax about that subject. Instead it is an opportunity to play to that child’s strength and provide additional enrichment. Many times a child’s area of strength is also an area of interest. When we are able, it is important to cultivate and allow them time to pursue those areas. Significant progress is also something to record in this box. This is important to remind you of what has worked this year and how hard work, yours and theirs, does pay off.
2. To improve- This box is for recording those areas where a child may need significant improvement. This is to remind you what subjects to allow extra time for in the year or what skills to work on. While the main focus of this sheet could be academic subjects, it is also crucial to remember you are educating your child as a whole person. List areas of character or practical life skills that could be improved upon as well. However, limit this box to about three to five areas on which to focus and ensure you have more successes highlighted within the strengths box. This will make for a far more productive year!
3. Goals- The final box on this sheet is all about setting goals. Goals provide a direction for the year and a framework to help us decide on which areas and subjects to study. While the “strengths” and “to improve” boxes provide us with specific areas where a child needs enrichment or extra help, the goals box includes those areas plus a broader academic scope. So how should we go about setting goals? Goals should be specific and measurable. A great goal will address a specific area and decide how success will be determined.
Not a great goal: Aelish will learn to write.
Good goal: Aelish will write four days a week, focusing on outlining, research skills, summarizing, adding style, narrative form, and poetry.
At the end of the month you can look at your worksheet and will be able to see if the goal was met — the specific action can be measured with “Yes, we did do it four days a week and we did focus on those listed skills.”Goals should focus on behaviors and not outcomes.
Remember the focus is on the child. However much we desire for them to succeed, we can not make them learn according to our own desires. Focus on your child’s behaviours or habits rather than the outcome.
Not a great goal: Aelish will memorize the multiplication tables (12×12) by the end of the month.
Good goal: Aelish will spend 15 minutes a day, four days a week using resources to practice her multiplication facts.
In the first goal you really have no control and are possibly setting everyone up for failure. The second goal you have more control over the process. Which goal is more likely to lead to success? The first goal is likely to provide stress for everyone. The second goal is achievable. Another thing to consider is including your child in the goal making process. This is especially important for older children who should have some input into what they are learning as it teaches goal-setting and self-evaluation. Goals should focus on learning and not just completion. As a parent, you know your child best and this can be extremely helpful when focusing the learning and having a more individualised learning experience.
Not a great goal: Aelish will complete a mathematics program by the end of the month.
Good goal: Aelish will score at least a 90% on each mathematical topic before moving on to the next one.
The first goal does not guarantee learning — only that the box was checked. The second goal focuses on the mastery of the mathematics skills presented in the curriculum. Remember that if something is not mastered, then this goal will continue next month. The purpose is not to complete everything but to master the skills and a level of outstanding no matter how long (or short) a time that takes.
A Working Example
I have attached an example of a completed version of the Goals Worksheet. This shows how the process of setting goals can be used for any age and ability. Our children start learning from the day they are born and as parents we are their first teachers. This task can be a useful tool to identify strengths, areas for improvement and set specific and measurable goals for a child of any age.
Let us know how you get on in the comments or on the Facebook support group. If you need any support with the planning process, please either post your questions or book a slot to talk.