personal goals

52 Weeks of Happier Homeschooling Week 32: Set Learning Goals for Your Homeschool

52 Weeks of Happier Homeschooling Week Week 32: Set Learning Goals for Your Homeschool

What’s the purpose of your homeschool? Believe it or not, figuring out the answer to that question can make your homeschool a happier place.

Research suggests that people who set goals are happier than people who don’t—and really happy people set big, overarching goals as well as smaller, measurable, day-to day goals. This summer is the perfect time to focus in on your goals for your homeschool or to revisit the goals that you imagined back when you first started homeschooling to make sure they still reflect the homeschool you want to build.

If you’re not sure where to start, think about what you want your homeschool to accomplish: Do you want to cultivate a spirit of curiosity and engagement and raise children who believe they can learn or do anything they’re willing to put hard work into? Or teach your children how to find, use, and evaluate information so that they can achieve the goals they set for themselves? Imagine that you’ve successfully homeschooled your children through high school: What kind of education have they had? How do they feel about learning? What are they ready to do now? If you’re having trouble articulating your mission statement, make a homeschool vision board instead, putting together quotes, images, and other items that represent your ideas of what you want your homeschool to be like in the coming months. It’s possible that your mission statement might change over time (which is why it can be helpful to revisit it regularly), but having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish gives you something to strive toward—which boosts your everyday happiness quotient. 

But don’t stop with the big picture. Working toward smaller, measurable goals reduces negativity and frustration, so come up with a few goals you want to tackle in the coming year. Your goals may be for you—don’t jump in and rescue projects at the last minute, spend more time outside—or for your student—really catch up in math, write a research paper—but whatever they are, they should be simple, direct goals that you can easily measure your progress toward. The simpler and clearer your goals are, the stronger their happiness-increasing power.

Your mission this week: Block out some time to think about your homeschool’s immediate and long-term goals. Write your homeschool mission statement, and come up with a short list of specific, measurable goals for the coming year.

At Home with the Editors: October Homeschool Rewind

Fun peek behind the scenes at what's happening in the homeschool life of the editor of home/school/life magazine #homeschool.

We share lots of little things happening in our homeschool lives in our Stuff We Like posts every week, but we don’t really talk about the big-picture stuff often. I thought it would be interesting to share some of those now and then on the blog—because maybe you’ve had similar things on your mind and can commiserate or have brilliant advice to share. Here's what was on my mind in October:

Homeschooling with a (temporary) disability is hard. Until I broke my ankles, I never realized on how much our homeschool moves around: We’re in the backyard nature journaling, hanging out in the rec room for math, cuddling on the couch for readalouds, walking around the block before lunch—I think of myself as a fairly sedentary person, but now that I am really and truly stuck on the sofa, I see that I relied a lot on changes of scene. Physically moving from one space to another works like an intellectual palate cleanser for us, and I’ve had to get creative about getting similar effects when I am stuck in one room. (To be honest, more days than not, I’m cutting things short with our more structured learning and sending the kids outside to play because it feels like we’ve gotten bogged down.)

I want to read more for pleasure. I read a lot, as you probably know if you read all the book lists in every issue of home/school/life. But I realize that I’m not reading for pleasure very often these days—I’m reading books to review or to brush up on a subject or to keep up with my daughter’s ridiculously long reading lists. It’s not that I don’t enjoy this reading—usually, I do—but I’m not browsing shelves, judging books by their covers, and reading things just because they look interesting very often, and I miss that. Plus, I think pleasure reading just looks different from required reading, and that's something I'd like to model for my kids. I want to integrate more pleasure reading into my life.

We are struggling with math—again. My son gets math instinctively, but my daughter struggles. Lately, it’s hard for her because her little brother likes to jump in and solve her math problems before she can finish working them out—and when you’re a teenager, getting one-upped by a first grader doesn’t feel so great. I’m not sure how to navigate this—I think my son should get to be proud of being good at something and my daughter shouldn’t have to be embarrassed about being the kind of person who has to follow the steps to solve a math problem. I’ve moved to trying to point my son toward another project when my daughter is working on her math, but her confidence—her hard-won math confidence!—has really taken a hit, which stinks.

So those are a few of the things on my mind as we move into November. What’s got you thinking in your homeschool life right now?

Mindful Homeschool: What My Children Have Taught Me About Pursuing My Personal Goals

Mindful Homeschool: What my children have taught me about pursuing my personal goals

I don't know about you, but I often torment myself thinking that I need to do more. How can the days pass so quickly, yet in a whole week, very little gets checked off my to do list? I add more to it than I can possibly accomplish in a given day.

I have learned that having children stifles the kind of productivity I was used to achieving before I had them. But is that really true? Sure, I used to be able to run in and out of stores in a jiffy. I was able to write without interruption. I could exercise!

But when I really think about it, I accomplish so much more now than I ever did before I had children. While they were infants and toddlers this wasn't true, but over the years, having less time has taught me how to manage my time much more wisely. I have also gotten better at sorting priorities, and, truthfully, I have changed my dreams to more realistic goals for myself.

At one time, I had youthful dreams of stardom. But my children have taught me that this environment that I thought I was creating for them—this environment where learning and making and being creative is part of our daily life—is actually what makes me happy. All that time I thought that happiness would come once I reached my goals, but no, happiness can be found in our daily choices. How do you want to live? What do you want to do? DO IT.

A Year From Now

But how do I get anything done with children? Well, in two ways. The first one is to work alongside them on whatever I can. As I follow along in their interests, I have found so many ways to be creative as I support their endeavors. I am expanding my own mind as I learn with them. I have made time for art, literature, science, nature exploration, and social activities. It doesn’t all happen in one day or even one week, but little by little, as each year passes, we delve into each of these subjects, and if I don’t get too stuck on what we’re supposed to do, these things make for a very fulfilling, life-long-learning kind of life.

There are things I want to accomplish that I can’t do with my children, and for these things, I have learned to be patient with myself. I do a little bit at a time. I let go of perfection and outcome. I watch my work build up over months instead of days. As Karen Lamb said, “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” You would be surprised at how much you can accomplish when you work diligently just a few minutes per day.

I also try to remain flexible about what I ultimately want to accomplish, but I continue striving because I know it’s important for my well-being. And it’s important for my children to watch their mom be more than a mom.

In some ways, a slow, meandering life with children is more conducive to reaching practical goals. It makes me shake off the meaningless junk and see more clearly about what is important to me. But only if I let it. Not tormenting myself about what-I-want-to-do-but-can’t-right-now is a daily practice, but I’ve gotten better at it over time.

How do you accomplish your goals while rearing children and homeschooling?