We tell our kids to do a lot of things.
That’s okay; that’s a piece of good parenting.
“Brush your teeth before bed, sweetie.”
“Yes, the green beans actually have to be chewed and swallowed.”
“If you made the mess, you need to clean it up.”
“We’re leaving for co-op in 10 minutes; be ready!”
Parents telling kids what they need to do is a normal, healthy part of family life, but setting short-term goals in our homeschool is one area where working WITH our kids is important.
Each season of homeschooling brings unique challenges. Some weeks have lots of doctors appointments in them. Some months have sports practices and games. Certain periods of time have so many “special” activities in them that it is hard to get the “normal stuff” done. Recognizing the importance of setting short-term goals (for this week, or this month, or this semester) is very helpful for parents and children.
Goal-setting is empowering for our kids. This article from KidsHealth.org touches on some of the benefits associated with equipping teens to set goals for themselves. As we set homeschool goals, it’s helpful to do more than make a checklist of what must be done each day or week; instead, the work the student is doing should be for a clearly articulated purpose, and each task should be a step along the path toward an important destination to which our child can look forward.
There are academic goals that must be set for the next few weeks, and while I could arbitrarily decide what my child has to finish before the the last leaf falls from the trees in our yard, I think it’s important for us to do it together. Perhaps we will agree to complete a certain number of Math chapters, or commit to write, edit, revise and finalize two 5-paragraph essays. Maybe we will choose a date by which a research paper topic will be chosen and the thesis statement written.
Whatever our concrete goals are, if parent and student can set them together it will benefit the homeschool as a whole. We can talk about the specific goals we set as a part of important end destinations we all can value.
Involving my child in the short-term goal-setting process is important for several reasons:
1. He will have ownership of the goals.
He will remember talking through the pros and cons of setting this task with a deadline, and completing it will be rewarding to him.
2. He will be heard.
He may have concerns that I have not thought of. The goals we set will be smarter for his input.
3. Mom is modeling wise behavior by talking through the process that results in goals.
My child will have a better understanding of why he should set goals for himself in the future, and how to go about doing it effectively.
4. It provides time for the two of us to be on the same side.
Sometimes when I have to hold Jonah accountable to finish work he is tired of doing, I seem like I am against him rather than on his side (I’m not, but it may feel that way). Setting goals together firmly establishes both of us on “Team Homeschool” instead of placing us at odds.
If plagiarism is something you haven’t yet discussed with your student, this short video will provide ideas for a good conversation. Watch it together and talk about it afterwards.
If writing assignments like research papers hang over your head in a threatening way, 7Sisters MLA and APA Research Paper Writing Guides can help you break the task into manageable steps, and you and your student can work together on goal setting one step of the writing process at a time. Click to view excerpts from these no-busywork guides that take the frustration out of research writing in high school.