Now that you’ve ushered in 2019, you’re probably thinking about some changes for your homeschool plans. Many homeschoolers adopt new resolutions, others set new goals or adjust their established goals, and still others remain steadfast with their original plans. As far as resolutions go, they seem fraught with unnecessary danger.
Resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” In other words, you either achieve your resolution or fail. No wonder why so many people feel burdened by their resolutions, whether it be losing weight or having your children read X amount of books a month. Once you make that resolution, it’s set in concrete. There’s really no wiggle room.
If you already made a resolution, that’s fine; but if you’re on the fence about it, perhaps you should rethink your decision. There are other motivating methods that homeschoolers use as they begin the New Year.
Let’s talk goals
A goal is defined as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” And since you and your children exert maximum effort in your homeschooling endeavor, it seems like setting goals fits. What’s more, goals are more malleable than resolutions. You can easily adjust your goals or change them altogether without feeling guilty if you’ve miscalculated the end target. Some homeschoolers reevaluate their teaching methods, educational strategies, and curriculum before they completely give up on the goal. Either way, it’s your choice.
Setting goals is where many homeschoolers have trouble. They dream too big and many don’t discuss the goals with their children. Unrealistic goals become more like resolutions—they cause stress and become burdensome. Some homeschoolers still stick with these goals, thinking that if they don’t achieve them then they’ve failed. They don’t fully understand the nature of goals. Or maybe they’re just stubborn. Sandy, a mother of two homeschooled girls fit the “stubborn” category.
“Two years ago I began the New Year with two main goals for reading and math for each of my girls. I quickly realized that they were out of reach. I didn’t really consider their past performances in these subjects, or the fact that we were starting a new curriculum. It was a boneheaded move. And to make matters worse, I kept these goals instead of changing them. What a disaster. No one was happy and the stress levels soared. Now I use the SMART method. It works for us.”
The SMART method
Creating effective goals is not easy. Many homeschooling parents shoot for the moon and find out down the road that they’ll never achieve the goals they set for themselves and their children. One way to avoid this disastrous scenario is using the SMART method. SMART stands for:
- Specific: Clearly stating what you want to achieve
- Measurable: The ability to clearly assess and track your progress
- Attainable: Refrain from setting lofty and unreasonable goals
- Relevant: Realistic goals that agree with your homeschooling methods and viewpoint
- Time bound: Measurable goals limited by time
Some questions you should ask yourself and your children as you consider your goals include: What is it that I want to achieve?; How long will it take approximately?; What steps do I take to accomplish the goal?; Does it complement our homeschool approach?; Is this a long-term or short-term goal?
Some people believe that the SMART method is not flexible, but as homeschoolers, flexibility is your ally. If you or your child are having difficulty reaching your goal, first consider modifying your approach to the goal, the curriculum you’re using, or how your teaching your children. If this doesn’t work, simply adjust it on the fly and move on.
If resolutions are your thing…
Resolutions aren’t a bad thing, but they do, in many cases, end in disappointment. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Those are personal resolutions, but people usually make the same mistakes when setting their resolutions, personal or homeschool related. The mistakes include not being clear about the goal, radically changing their lifestyle or homeschooling process,and becoming easily discouraged.
You might try the SMART method when making your resolution. As a result, you’ll have a clear and concrete resolution that’s easily measurable and not too extreme. It will also have meaning, which will motivate you and your child as you progress. Fiona, a mother of a teenage boy who enjoys making resolutions says: “My son likes the whole resolution thing. It’s like a New Year’s ritual for him. When we first started discussing them, I found that we both were being unrealistic, just way out of bounds. As the years passed, we became much better at setting reasonable goals and making resolutions that matched our homeschooling methods. Now we have goals and once a year a resolution that’s challenging but not impossible”
Have a great New Year!
Now that you know the pitfalls that surround resolutions—and goals—carefully consider what best fits your lifestyle, your homeschooling process, and your children’s strengths and weaknesses before you commit to anything. This will make your new year and your school year much more productive, enjoyable, and instructive. Happy New Year!
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