March 13, 2013

When we say homeschooling is a journey, we don't mean it's a quick trip to the grocery store. It's more like an epic transcontinental adventure. Okay, sometimes a trip to the grocery store feels more epic than a transcontinental adventure, but you know what I mean. It's helpful to have a plan when you start out on such an adventure. You could just figure out where you want to be at the end of the journey, but it's helpful to also know where you want to be at the end of each day. The same idea is helpful with homeschooling. Your mission statement tells you where you want to end the journey. Setting goals for your children helps you know where you hope to be at the end of a year or season of life.


About once a year Hubby and I go on a working date. We spend time discussing what each child has achieved in the previous year, where they are excelling, and where they are struggling. We then draw up three to four goals for each child for the year ahead.

For 2013, Polar Bear's goals are:

1. To explore some vocational opportunities in our family and neighborhood to develop good work ethic.

He will offer assistance to our neighbors. He can walk dogs, weed gardens, water plants, help the mom     next door, or assist with projects.

He will help his dad build a new raised garden and then he will plan and build a big sandbox (and cover) for his siblings.

2. To begin to take ownership of his walk with Christ.

We will prayerfully consider asking one of the young men in our church to begin mentoring Polar Bear.

He will attend adult Sunday School.

He will begin working his way through a Bible reading schedule to build the discipline of daily Bible study.

3. To take more responsibility for his own school work.

He will have a planning notebook and schedule all of his lessons for the next 6 months and then follow that plan.

He will accomplish all of his school work each day with little or no reminding from Mom.

Each Friday he will present his school work to Mom to have it checked.


When we are discussing our younger children, the goals will, of course, look a little different.

For 2013 Strawberry's goals are

1. To improve her read-aloud skills.

She will read a short book to Mommy each week, focusing on clarity and comprehension.

When she is comfortable with that book she will read it to her little sisters and focus on tone and inflection.

2. To improve her writing skills.

She will begin Writing Strands this spring.

She will write a short letter once a month to a friend of her choosing.

3. To work on controlling her temper.

She will learn to breathe deeply and pray when she feels like she wants to scream.

She will memorize a couple verses that will help her to remember how to respond appropriately in frustrating circumstances.



Polar Bear (age 12) has made great progress on most of his goals. He watched one neighbor's birds for two weeks and helped another neighbor build a shed. He was helpful and responsible in both circumstances (and learned a valuable lesson about ear protection.) We are thrilled that one of the young men from our church has begun to mentor Polar Bear. Another friend stepped up to teach Junior High Sunday School, so when we make it on time, Polar Bear attends that. We did not write out his lesson plan for the 6-month period, but Polar Bear has been faithfully accomplishing his assigned lessons. I still need to work on checking his assignments more frequently. I think I will just set an alarm on my phone to remind me to demand access to Polar Bear's work.

Strawberry (age 8) has really improved her read-aloud skills and has enjoyed being able to read to her siblings. We have not started our writing curriculum yet, but it is also not yet spring! Temper ... well, she is making progress on that, it's just slow progress.



What if you have a beautiful set of goals and you and your children are unable to complete them all in the allotted time? That happens. That's why part of the process of writing goals is looking at what has gone well over the past year, where your child is excelling and where he or she needs some work. You may find that your child did not meet his goal of improving his spelling skills by one grade level, but he did finish two full levels in math. Maybe this means that you can let him just do enough to keep moving ahead in math and use the rest of his math time to work more on spelling. Maybe it means you need to explore a different tactic for teaching spelling. Maybe it means your child will have a spelling growth spurt at some point and it will all make sense to him. Maybe he will be forever grateful for spellcheck. It's okay. If you don't meet all of your goals this year, you can move them to the list again next year or rewrite the goals to make them more manageable. You have the ability to tailor your family's goals to meet their needs and your family's schedule to meet their goals.



I often hear homeschooling friends lament a year that was derailed. I look back over my own 7 years of homeschooling and can't remember too many years that went as they were supposed to. Babies were born, loved ones fell ill, complications arose and we didn't accomplish as much as we had hoped to. It's a good idea to hold on to the big picture and enjoy your children along the way. Even when life "gets in the way" of your planned goals, if you maintain a learning environment in your home, learning happens.{jcomments on}

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Your Mission...If you choose to accept it.
Your Mission...If you choose to accept it.

Last month I suggested that a Mission Statement would be a good thing for new homeschoolers...