Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Setting Goals

As the librarian at our homeschool library, I often get a panicked question about what should my child know and when should they know it. Having learned the hard way, I try to guide mothers away from this thought process. Who’s to say when kids must learn to multiply fractions or know the parts of speech? Yes, these things are important, but rather than compare our kids with all the others, I think we’re better off setting concrete goals—and there’s many things on my list ahead of academics.

Set character goals. What moral virtue would you like to instill in your children? Pick one and spend a month on it, or many a year. Responsibility, honesty, kindness, patience, hope…you decide what’s essential for your family. You may have the smartest kids in the world, but if they flunk the character test, big problems are ahead. More students fail in college because of a lack of discipline or responsibility than a lack of math facts.

Set Worldview goals. How do you view the world? Like a socialist? Humanist? Christian? Many of these views permeate our society and can creep into our lives if we’re not careful. We need to teach our children the difference in the way a humanist views the world as opposed to a Christian. Stand to Reason has a wonderful web site full of great articles on worldview. Find them at www.str.org.

Check out these books: How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer McCaulay, Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door by Josh McDowell, and The New Tolerance by Josh McDowell.

Set Academic Goals. Many books will give the scope and sequence of what they teach at various grade levels, but I like to see other types of goals. Our family will read ten books on missionaries to different countries this year. My high school student will spend his senior year reading two of the classics each month. Each of my children will complete a research paper this year, including the proper use of note cards, making an outline, and using the MLA format.
I think goals like this will take you farther than stressing over what your child should know at each grade level. After all, it seems the Bible teaches that comparing ourselves among ourselves is not wise.

How about you? How do you decide what and when your children should learn? What goals would you add to this list?


  1. A great reminder Teri, its so easy to think everybody elses kids are furthur ahead, more disciplined, better in English, spelling and math, but charater is the reason I chose to homeschool and often is the subject "I don't have time" to work on. Character needs to be forefront, if my kids are a whiz at math, but people don't enjoy being around them, who cares. Thanks for the blog, great work. jangarcia

  2. You make a good point, Jan. We need to take the time to work on character as well as Math and English. May God bless your family!

  3. Thanks for all your words of encouragement, Teri. You've been an inspiration in so many ways.

    Over the past couple of years God has been showing me that sometimes our curriculum can actually stand in the way of our spending the time necessary to build godly character in our kiddos. A curriculum can "drive us" causing us to leave out those things that we daily sense need to be addressed in our family life. I am finally learning! God is faithful.

    You know, homeschooling is as much about OUR growth as it is about our kids' education and growth :-)

    God bless all you homeschooling families as you take the adventure with our Heavenly Father.

  4. Hello everyone! I just wanted to say thanks for creating this site for us to get some much needed encouragement.
    I have used material from Character First in the past w my kids to learn character qualities. It has been fun. You can go to their website and go to the resource link to access the store. Check it out.
    Sarai Mendoza

  5. Anonymous friend: You're so right that a curriculum can actually bind us if we're not careful. Thankfully we have a Father in heaven who shows these things to us!

    Sarai, We're so glad you stopped in today! Thanks for the tip about Character First. When we incorporate fun in our teaching, the lesson often sticks much longer!

  6. It is so exciting to see homeschool moms sharing information with each other. That is one of the reasons I was so excited about doing this blog. The days can fly by without contact with other moms. We need each other! Thanks for your input.

  7. Up until this year when we joined a co-op, we always started our day with one of the "Christian Heroes Then and Now" books. I would read to them for about an hour, then we would discuss what we'd read. Most of the time, they would beg me to read more. The stories are exciting, educational with built in history and geography lessons, but most importantly, character building. Of all the books we've used for building Godly character, these are the best in my opinion. I will always cherish those days and look forward to my grandchildren some day hearing the stories too. Thanks for starting the site.

  8. Great idea, Wendy. We loved reading about Christian Heroes too. I'll have to and see if those books are the same ones we have in our homeschool library.