Summertime activities in our home are many: gardening, playing outside, taking in the local sights, being with friends, or maybe just hanging out indoors near our window air conditioner when life gets to hot. One other summertime activity I try to do is to evaluate our family’s long term goals and to set new goals for the coming homeschool year.
I’m not sure what you think of when you hear the word “goals” but I used to instantly assume that being goal directed meant being overly regimented and inflexible. That’s not what I mean by being goal directed in our home.
In setting goals for our homeschool (and other areas of our family life), we know which direction to aim at, instead of being scattered in a dozen different directions. Goals help me to have direction when making decisions, small and great. As I make big decisions, the goals we have set for our family help me to know which way to turn. I also live with the reality that every small choice I make each day will either take me closer to or further away from achieving our goals.
Start with Long Term Goals
When the children were yet very young, we came up with some long term goals that we wanted to see happen in their lives. These goals included trusting in Christ alone for salvation, and to learn to rely on Him in their daily lives. We also set goals like “become effective communicators” , “to write well”, “to love reading”, “to know how to learn independently”, among others.
To set effective goals, make sure that your goals are actually achievable and not just “hopes” or “wishful thinking”. My husband and I tried to set goals for our kids that were both specific enough to give us something concrete to aim at, and yet flexible enough for the Lord to guide and direct more specifically. What do I mean? We didn’t just determine that child A would be a doctor and child B would be a lawyer. I don’t know what God has called them to do. Instead, our goals were on the ability to learn, to be diligent, to know God and to love God. Our goals were such that, no matter the calling on their lives, they would do well. They would have a firm foundation laid.
These long term goals have been a sort of compass for our family, setting our heading and course, though we may take brief detours along the way.
Set Short Term Goals
Our short term goals are set based on our long term goals. Those short term goals help to direct us more specifically for each school year. Sometimes those short term goals involve behavior or attitude issues for a specific child or other issues that we have noticed. Many times they are based on specific areas of growth in learning and character.
For example, last school year I wanted to help my older children to write better on their own. This is in keeping with those earlier goals of having effective communication skills and writing well. They had done well with writing in previous school years, but now I wanted to see them be able to write well with more independence. This was what we were working towards all last year, and to achieve it, we switched curricula for a year (to the One Year Adventure Novel, which I highly recommend).
One of the most frustrating things I had always found about goal setting is when I didn’t hit my goal. It took some time to realize that I was going at it all wrong. As I said earlier, being specific enough to know what I’m aiming for but flexible enough for God to fill in the specifics was very helpful. I also needed to be flexible with the time table.
We have found the best way to achieve goals is to take whatever steps we are able to, no matter how small or big, in the right direction. Eventually we will get there, and if we don’t, we’ll still be closer than when we started.