Saturday, July 28, 2007

Homeschooling Goals

Goals are SO important when it comes to homeschooling. I know that on the surface "goals" can sound abstract and unimportant but they really are the guiding force of your day-to-day activity. They shape what you make a big deal of and what you let slide into the background.
Goals start with the big picture - by asking what is our goal for Beth at the end of her schooling? I think that for me the answer to that question would be that 1) I want her to be in a position to be ready to go to college. Sounds simple enough, but for a homeschooler that's a BIG deal. When I "graduated" from my Homeschooling I was not in a position to be able to go to college. I had no transcipt, no graded work, and although I'd worked on all sorts of college-level and professional-level courses I hadn't fulfilled the core course-work expected. I didn't even know there were requirements until I started looking into colleges. I was really discouraged when I realized I'd need to study for, like two more years, just to get ready for college. 2) I want her to be a master at the basics. Simple stuff like multiplication tables, simple math formulas, grammar, basic History dates. I want them to be as familiar to her as her own phone number. I think that if you are a master of the basics then the more advances stuff is all so much easier. 3) I want her to enjoy and be confident in the learning process. All of life is "continuing education" to one degree or another. I want Beth to enjoy learning about new things, I want her to be confident that if she wants to learn something that she knows how. She won't automatically have to sign up for a class, she won't have to have it spoon-fed to her, she won't need to be told what to think about it. She be able to study it, process it and master it.
So then that leads to the questions about what are my goals for this phase of homeschooling? For example in Pre-school my one goal was that she would learn good "study-habits" forget dressing up phonics in bunny-rabbits and songs, let's sit with the flash-cards and drill, drill, drill. Beth actually enjoyed the drills, the difficult part was hand-writing. We struggled through learning how to write her name for a looooong time. My goal for her was not so much that she learn how to write her name or form her letters my primary goal for her was that she would learn to follow directions and work hard at something tedious with a good attitude. Life is a lot of hard work. School is a lot of tedious work. The sooner she learns how to do this with a good attitude the better. Your goals might be different for the pre-school years, but your goals will shape your day-to-day activities, even if your goals are not something you've really taken the time to think about or to verbalize. Maybe your goals will be strictly productive - to write her name, to learn his letters, etc. but it's still a good idea to verbalize your goals.
My goals for this year of homeschooling are 1) To learn how to balance homeschooling and the rest of life. 2) To learn to be consistent with homeschooling 3) For Beth to be improved in her reading, writing and math skills. I'd like Beth to have mastered simple addition and subtraction and reading at a first-grade level.
There is a ton more that I'd like to do with Beth - history and science, music and art. But those are things that we do on the side for now. I know that Beth could handle a lot more school-work, and I'm sure if I just had her that we'd be doing more but the reality is that I can't handle much more school-work than reading/writing and math.
So you see, goals are a super-important step in preparing for homeschooling. Other questions to ask are - why am I homeschooling? what is important and what are my values in homeschooling?

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