Homeschool Planning 101: Goals – Setting Your Path
You’re planning your homeschool year. You’ve figured out what you value. You’ve started looking through methods. It’s time to get right to choosing curriculum, right? Nope. I highly recommend you spend a few hours considering your goals for the year first.
Why to set goals
Many of the posts I’ve seen about homeschool planning skip this step completely. They might have you look at your values and then go choose some curriculum. These sources will usually tell you that you only have to plan a week or two at a time, and that it’s easier that way.
It might be easier, but I think it’s also a quick trip to burnout or the feeling like you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Spending some time setting and managing your goals will help you see where your gaps might be. Goals will also help you manage your daily routine so that you aren’t doing too much and you aren’t doing too little.
How to make your goals SMART
When you set goals for your year, you want to make sure that they’re actually going to be helpful to you. There are five different traits to a good goal: it needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
“I’m going to master 6th grade math on Khan Academy by June 14th, 2016” is a goal.
“Teach kids to read” is not a goal.
What do you want your kids to learn this year? How can you manage those subjects? It’s easy to set goals for particular curricula. “Finish such-and-such curriculum by the end of the year.” But it’s difficult to set goals for subjects that require mastery. For things like foreign languages, I usually set a goal to practice that subject at least two or three days a week.
Subject-based weekly plans
One of my favorite things to do when I’m planning a school year is to set a weekly plan. First, I make a list of all the subjects I want to teach during the year. I dream really big at this point. I usually have two or three foreign languages, a lot of writing projects, and particular ideas about history or science.
Then I get out five index cards, one for each day of the school week. I write down each subject I want to cover on as many days as I want to cover it. I start seeing all those subjects filling up my index card, until I realize that there is no humanly way possible to get through everything we want to get through. At that point, I usually cut subjects (I cut Latin this year in favor of more Spanish practice) or combine subjects (I figured out how to do grammar and creative writing as part of my language arts units).
The above image is one I took on Saturday after nailing down my history books for the year. On the right, you can see my finished index cards showing the subjects we’ll do on particular days of the week. Thursday looks like a light day, and it is, but that’s because we spend the early afternoon running errands before spending the rest of the day with our local park group.
Make sure you add recurring appointments, sports practices, or ballet rehearsals on your lists. You want to make sure you can see everything at a glance so you don’t overload your days.
Once you have your subjects and days decided on, you can finally move on to choosing the curriculum and activities that will work for you and your kids. And now that you have a better idea what your goals are and what you want to cover, it will be easier to sort through the ocean of available curricula out there.
What kinds of goals do you have for your upcoming school year? Are you working on any subjects that you’re particularly excited about?