Why Set Educational Goals for My Child?

Every new year of homeschooling is like starting off on a new adventure. Of course, when you’re travelling with kids, the first thing they want to know is “Where are we going?” closely followed by the unending “Are we there yet?” loop.

The goals you set can help your child see where you are going and help you answer “Why do I have to know this?”

There are so many exciting enrichment opportunities, subjects, and topics—goals also help you prioritize and keep first things first. They give you confidence that you’re covering the core of your child’s education and allow you to be flexible while still headed towards your ultimate destination.

How to Set Educational Goals for My Child

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set goals for your child:

  • My child’s learning preference and learning readiness
  • What my child needs to learn and what they’d love to learn (passions and talents)
  • What knowledge and skills are typical goals for my child’s age AND what my child is actually ready to learn
  • Opportunities and limitations of my child’s learning environment for this year, our homeschool schedule, and available resources. Align your goals with this year’s homeschool reality:
    • Example: If my child has a lot of outside-the-home activities and classes or our family is going to be traveling most of the year, it might difficult to set goals that involve significant time at home, such as learning how to cook one new recipe a week.
    • Or if you’re committed to help care for an elderly family member, you might not be able to set piano lesson or soccer PE goals for your child this year, but perhaps there are read-aloud or history goals that your child can work on while you are with the elderly family member.
    • What outside resources are available to you: Is your 14-year-old a math whiz and is Grandpa available to teach both Algebra I and II this year? Or maybe your teen could take a couple online courses? Or perhaps you don’t have extra help, so you need to keep your teen’s goal to getting through Algebra I.

Developing Goals for Each Child

Don’t let this process intimidate you! You can probably do this in an hour or so, and then develop it more during the course of the school year. Right now you just want to get started. We suggest devoting a page or entry to each child.

  • Write down the name and age of each child.
  • Record grade levels. Each child is different. One child may be at a variety of grade levels for the subjects you will be covering, while another is solidly a 4th grader. To the best of your ability, write down where you think each child is. If you don’t know for sure, see “What Grade Is My Child Ready For? If you don’t do grade levels, move on to the next step.
  • On each child’s page, record the subjects you want to cover.
  • If your child will be involved in a co-op or online school, note this. This will affect the lesson planning and curriculum purchasing that you will do.
  • Take a few minutes to think about each child. What are her strengths, interests, and weaknesses? Does he have a subject that he is gifted in or needs extra help in? Does she have any special needs?
  • Write down the curriculum, books, and resources you will use for each child. If you don’t know which curriculum you are using yet, don’t panic! We can help. See our “Finding Curriculum” series.
  • Write down your educational goals for each child. Goals should be measurable. For example: learn to count to 100 by the end of the year, be able to outline an essay, be able to name 10 parts of the circulatory system, or write a short story—these are all things your child can demonstrate. For more ways of measuring goals, you can check out our Testing and Evaluation section.

Wow . . . that was a big bite. Give yourself a high five!

Now you have a great tool for choosing curriculum, lesson planning, and evaluating your child’s progress at the end of the year. (And a jumpstart for planning for next year!)