It’s a well-known fact that most abandon New Year’s resolutions by the end of the day on January 2. If we didn’t follow through today, we definitely can’t make it for 363 more days, so we should just give up. No doubt, many of us have seen that same concept sneaking into our homeschool goals from year to year. So how do we create a mindset that allows us to set realistic goals, make a plan, and follow through even if we have to adjust midstream?
When setting goals for our homeschools, they must be in line with our family values, realistic for the age and ability of our children, and executable by the adults in charge. Everyone being fluent in Latin by the end of the school year may be an admirable goal. Still, if you have a toddler with emerging verbal skills, an older child taking two additional foreign languages, and two adults working three jobs – that is probably not a feasible goal at this time. Choose realistic goals most of the time. There will be times when it is appropriate for you to make a goal for yourself, your child, or your homeschool that seems out of reach. We just need to be sure that we find ways to do this without falling into the perfection vs. failure trap.
Choose your Goals
Every homeschool parent loves a list – so make a separate list for each person, one for the homeschool year and one for the family/household. Then list out all the goals you could dream of achieving over the coming calendar year. This collection of lists will be pretty daunting, but that’s what you want for right now. Depending on the age of your children, you could involve them in the next step to have them practice goal-setting skills. Look through each list and mark out half of the items listed, keeping your “most important” half. (If this causes stress, just copy the half you’re “keeping” onto a new list – the other half isn’t going away, we’re just narrowing our focus while .)
Choose your Timeline
Now we have made a Long List with our entire school year in mind (whether that’s a traditional 36 weeks or a more relaxed year-round schedule). But for now, we are going to use our Short List and look at our school year calendar. For each item on your Short List, write out a 50% goal beside it (100 sight words – 50 sight words), and take this list to your planning calendar. Looking at your school year, find a good halfway point for each goal and write your half and final dates on the list (not the calendar).
Choose your Checkpoints
With your list finished, you should have a shortlist of the most important goals for your school year. Each goal should have the halfway point written beside it and your two goal dates. Go back and look over your calendar, paying attention to your family life. Look at church, club, holiday, vacation, and other things that may affect the flow of your academic goals. Compare these things to your goal dates and make sure it’s reasonable before adding goal dates to the calendar. Once your goal dates are in the calendar, decide how often you want to check that you’re on track (give yourself at least two weeks between each check-in). Put these reminders in your phone, calendar app, or email service so that your brain doesn’t have to remember to do this checkup independently.
Choose Your Response
After your first couple of weeks of working toward your goal, take a few minutes and consider where you are. You want to pay attention to overall progress, but you also want to look at daily progress. Sometimes our goals are too low-key and can lead to lazy progress, which impedes efficient learning. This sign lets us know that we need to add some “gentle pressure” to the deadlines to make consistent progress and learn the discipline of constant effort. Sometimes our goals are too stringent, and we realize that family relationships or the quality of our work have suffered to meet deadlines. Reassessment of our attitude toward the speed of progress and our approach to what “counts” as progress may be needed to ensure that while we move forward academically, we aren’t moving backward in other areas.
After tweaking your approach to your goals, you will be ready to work with the second half of your goal list. Maybe after a few days, maybe after a few weeks or even months. By this time, you will have a good grasp of how to define and maintain forward motion. Then, working on one or two new goals at a time will be a piece of cake. You can do this!