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Where Do We Go From Here?

(Or: Setting and Attaining Your Goals)

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Ask yourself, “Why are we homeschooling?” Have an overall purpose in mind, then set your goals to accomplish that purpose over the year. This will be quite valuable in about January, when you may be weary and feel like quitting. Put your reasons in writing!

According to Luke 2:52, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (NIV). What progress would you like your child to make in those four areas this year? Remember: while your purpose could be defined as your aim (for example, for your child to grow up to be a godly person), your goals should be measurable (to read one chapter of the Bible a day, to keep a prayer notebook, to be kinder to siblings, etc.). How will you know when a goal has been reached?

Intellectual: While this area is often the focus of home education, try to set specific goals for each child so your studies will have more direction. Rather than broad or vague goals such as “learn phonics,” you may aim for him to recognize specific letters and sounds; other specific goals could include to improve reading speed, read ten biographies, keep a journal start a family newsletter, read about three foreign countries, improve multiplication speed, etc.

Physical: Don’t limit your physical education to learning a sport. An active PE program is healthy, but go a step further by planning for him to learn to prepare nutritious snacks, walk as a family, work on a construction project, improve hygiene, learn how the body systems work, etc.

Spiritual: This is a good time to work on particular character traits and then plan appropriate activities and/or units. For example, you may want to see your student improve in patience, so you might include such activities as knot-tying and puzzles, while gratefulness or compassion could be encouraged by becoming pen pals with a missionary’s kid or taking bananas to local nursing home residents, etc. You could set specific goals for Bible memory work or Bible reading, as well.

Social: For a younger child, this could be as basic as learning good telephone manners. This is a good time to identify potentially positive traits that are being misdirected or abused. An overly organized, compulsive, impatient child most likely has the capacity to be a very efficient person. The child who is always being taken advantage of is probably very patient with others and has a servant’s heart (assuming he has a healthy, godly self-image). A spendthrift or wasteful child could learn to use his generosity to further God’s kingdom. Look for ways to encourage the gifts to be used appropriately without breaking the child’s spirit. This is also a good opportunity to evaluate outside activities and decide how the family's time will be most wisely spent. Are those outside activities helping to meet your goals? Could some of those activities be saved for another time, or dropped altogether?

Once you have set your goals, choose your curriculum and then schedule accordingly. There are many excellent resources available, but you don’t have to use them all! Be selective—you are choosing the tools to help you lay a firm foundation and build wisely. Sketch out the year so you have a rough outline, then flesh out that outline each week (or each grading period, or whatever works best for you) with activities and assignments to accomplish your goals. Then take time throughout the year to evaluate your progress and possibly make adjustments. Ask yourself, “What is working and what is not working, and why? What can I adjust to meet our goals?”

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