You may wonder whether setting goals in your homeschool is really an important exercise or just a waste of time. Let me give you some reasons why I believe goals will help you in your homeschooling.
Firstly, without setting goals, you can aimlessly do everything! We can easily be swayed by all the curriculum packages and lovely materials we see around us. If we are not sure of our own goals, we can easily follow along and pick and choose materials and continue to load up our children with "excellent content", but without direction and prior knowledge of where we are going and why we are adding on curriculum upon curriculum.
Secondly, without setting goals, you can aimlessly do nothing! Without goals, you can allow the day to follow day, month to follow month, year to follow year, without a plan. It doesn't mean that you aren't hoping that education will happen, or that good character traits will be formed, but at the same time, you are not actively pursuing it. Will you look back at those years with confidence that you were guiding and training your children? Perhaps not.
Thirdly, without setting goals, you can do wonderful activities, but not know why! You can end up doing someone else's goals, or be swayed toss and forth by the latest homeschooling fad." For myself, I know it is very easy todo what my good homeschooling friend is doing; or decide to let my children choose their entire curriculum because that was what I read in the latest article or at the latest conference. Working against yourself and working to someone else's goals is probably one of the greatest ways to experience burnout, frustration or disappointment.
Let me give you two hypothetical examples:
We are a very musical family- multi-generational talent etc (I wish!). I read the latest article which spurs me on to leave all the decision making up to my children. If they want to pursue music, let them; if they want to learn to read, let them; if they want to spell, let them; and so on. I am persuaded that it will be beneficial to leave them to themselves and get out of their way of learning. So, the years pass. Sometimes, my "musical" children pick up an instrument and have a bit of a play, but it takes time and effort and persistance! They'll pick it up again in a few months, perhaps!
I begin to feel frustrated and annoyed. Why don't they show some persistance in their character? They don't seem to understand that to achieve a goal, you need to work hard at it! Why don't they keep trying - after all, I didn't wake up to be the accomplished musician I am today! (..cough, cough, splutter!)
Years later, I look back and wonder why my children are not playing a musical instrument. I know they have talent and ability, and I know they could use it in so many ways, for their own benefit and for others....But....I begin to wonder whether it was my job as a parent to teach the habit of persistance, and perserverance.
I am not sure what direction to go, but a wonderful family have very curious and intelligent children and I have decided to model my schooling on what they do. We buy mountains of books and I begin to set my young children at their desks early in the morning, tackling one text after another. They'd love to watch the council truck outside picking up the rubbish collection, but we don't have time. If we don't finish the maths lesson now, we will be another week behind.
They've found some great beetles outside, but we are studying fish in the science text, so we really don't have time to go to the library and find out its name.I'd love to follow the interest that arose, but I am already a few lessons behind in Science and we haven't done the last 5 experiments we were supposed to have done! I'll have to spend my Saturday finding the right resources for those experiments.
Perhaps next week will be better.... Burnout.....Burnout...I begin to wonder why did I homeschool? I had an idea it was going to be enjoyable for us all, but all I feel like is a failure.
I'm not coping with the work; I'm tense with my children, and I really wanted to be that "meek and gentle" homeschooling mum.I begin to wonder how I can re-gain the love of learning. All I really want to do - is be with my children, learning with them; reading to them; going out with them; talking to them. There isn't time for talking now - if we don't write it in a note-book, I feel like we haven't accomplished anything.What were my goals in the first place? Have I lost track?
What is a way to homeschool your family in your unique way?
As Paul in the Bible says, "Follow me as I follow Christ."
In reality, you need to model the life, you want your children to grow into.
Fourthly, setting goals for your family keeps you on track, year by year. If you return to read your goals each year, and adjust where necessary, they can help you remain focussed and clear about what you, as a family, are aiming to do. Then you can begin the year with your goals clear before you.
Fifthly, setting goals reminds you of the enormity of the task God has given you as parents. If you are reading this far in this website, you are taking the God-given task of teaching and training your children seriously. Setting your goals and re-visiting them helps you to remain serious and passionate about what you are doing.
I believe that setting goals will give you more focus and direction and pleasure in working in a way which is unique to your family with your educational goals in mind.
Need some more concrete examples of setting goals for your family? Go to Setting Family Goals
Need a refresher on Educational Goals and the Definition of Education?