Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Importance of Setting Goals

Have you taken the time to think about and actually write down goals for your children's education?  I am a big believer in setting goals, and I feel setting educational goals is an important part of planning for your children's future.  Once you have a clear focus of exactly what you would like your children's education to achieve, you can figure out the direction in which you need to travel to get there.  Knowing the desired outcome of your child's education can help you decide between public school, private school, homeschool, or afterschool.  If you choose to homeschool or afterschool, having clear goals can help to maintain focus, decide on an educational model, choose curriculum (or create your own), and prioritize/manage your time.

A couple of months into our homeschool aventura, I realized that there just wasn't enough time in the week to do everything that we were doing--well.  Something had to give.  With my boys being ages 5 and 3, we couldn't fit in learning all the memory work of Classical Conversations, Spanish, Math, Reading, Gymanastics, and Piano.  In order to prioritize our studies and activities, I spent a couple of days thinking about my goals for the kids.  I wrote them down then shared and discussed them with my husband.  This is what I came up with:

 Long-term education goals

  • To be rooted in faith
  • To be grounded in humility
  • To know and love God, his people, and his world
  • To have a love for learning, both academic and applied
  • To have a practical knowledge of the world
  • To have a world-view mindset, seeing themselves as part of a bigger picture
  • To be (at least) bilingual
  • To be critical thinkers and problem-solvers
  • To be solid in their beliefs and be able to defend/share them with others
  • To understand the fruit of hard work

Short-term education goals

  • To enjoy learning
  • To have a strong reading foundation and a love for books and reading
  • To appreciate and understand basic Spanish
  • To learn the history of our world and how it reflects God's glory
  • To have a picture of the world in their minds
  • To have an appreciation for numbers and an understanding that math reflects an orderly Creator
  • To communicate effectively in both written and oral forms
  • To be respectful and use good manners
  • To have an appreciation for/basic understanding of art and music
  • To use the scientific method to make discoveries and answer questions about the world  
  • To play and work well with peers

Once I had a solid list of goals, it was easy to decide which activities we could let go by the wayside and which ones needed additional focus.  Okay, so maybe it wasn't easy to decide, but it was definitely easier.  Reading, Math, and Spanish became top priorities, Piano and Extracurriculars secondary priorities, and CC a lower priority.  Instead of investing so much time into practicing the memory work for each of the 7 CC subjects, I decided to focus on the parts of CC that my son enjoyed the most and that I thought were the most beneficial at this age: the Timeline, History sentences, and Math facts.  I'll throw in the Science information with projects here and there, but I don't feel the pressure to have him memorize it all anymore.

On my to-do list is to further develop our goals by breaking them down into yearly goals, pre-K, Kinder, 1st, etc.  My "goal" is to have pre-K thru 1st grade completed by the end of this school year in order to help me plan out next year over the summer.  I plan to reassess our goals and activities each semester, and as the boys get older they will be able to make their own input.

Last February I came across this inspirational article from Southwest Airline's Spirit magazine, entitled Luck & Desire.  The article recounts the story of Rob Summers and how setting goals helped him to overcome paralysis.  I highly recommend checking it out!

If you feel like sharing, I'd love to hear from others about the types of goals you have for children!