Planning for learning can be tricky, but it’s so important. Without a plan (at least a loose one), your academic goals will surely flouder. Think of a plan like a recipe…
A good recipe can:
Educational planning is a lot like that recipe.
Plans are important, but before you can effectively plan for academic learning (or anything else for that matter) you’ve got to have some goals in mind. If plans are like a recipe, then goals are like your shopping list. You can’t make that recipe if you haven’t got the ingredients, so before you get out the pans and actually get to work, you may need to go shopping!
Goals are all about keeping the end in sight.
Since my children were tiny I’ve set goals for their learning and development (yep, I’m one of those weird people who likes to plan ahead and make lists). I’ve got master lists of goals I made years ago and which have hardly changed over the years, and I’ve got much shorter-term goal lists that I reassess regularly. These goals come in handy for making all kinds of decisions: choosing homeschooling curriculum, making choices about extra-curricular activities, setting expectations for chores, and even guiding intentional conversations. In short, they help me think about the end result.
My long-term goal list consists of those skills and ideas I want my children to have acquired by the time they graduate and leave home. On this list I’ve included:
On the other hand, I also have shorter-term goal lists. For example, each school year I create a list of goals I want to focus on for the coming nine months. (I do the same for the summer months, though these goals are usually not so academic focused.) When setting my school year goals, I try to think about each child’s strengths and weaknesses. Maybe I want to really develop a strength and encourage more pursuit in that area. Or maybe I want to shore up a weak area. In any case, this list helps me decide what classes to include for homeschooling, as well as what character qualities to focus on, what chores to require, etc.
In part 2 of this duo, we'll examine different styles of planning, when to use which style, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. But for now I would encourage you to spend a little time thinking through both your long-term and short-term goals for each child. Then write them down!
As Benjamin Franklin once said: By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail. Take the time to prepare and your planning will be that much more productive and successful!
Aimee Fuhrman is a full-time homeschooling mother of four (some of whom are now grown) who moonlights as an author. She loves Jesus, encouraging others, books, knitting, and coming up with delicious allergy-friendly recipes. She lives at the foothills of the Colorado Rockies with her husband of 25 years and their brood.