Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Setting Realistic Goals and Finding Pleasure in Baby Steps

When I first started to home school my oldest son I felt overwhelmed with the enormity of task I had undertaken. I sought advice and wisdom from the glut of home school advice books available. One bit of advice really hit home for me. Like all other human wisdom, I had to make it my own. But all said and done, that advice in its various stages of evolution, is one of the most important things I had to accomplish in order to successfully home school.

Really, it is a simple concept that one hears in many different genres of self-help books. The author recommended setting long term, medium term and short term goals. I think the author recommended including not only academic goals, but character goals and spiritual goals for the children. And to this I added the prioritizing of the articulated goals.

The reason for doing this is to help a home educator to keep perspective. Not every day will we fulfill daily goals. Sometimes for months or more at a time we will seem to be wallowing. At times a medical situation or family move or the birth of a new child demand we set our plans aside temporarily. Sometimes we have to shift gears and come up with an entirely new plan. What worked for one kids may not work for another. And so on.

But if we have our goals clearly articulated and prioritized, we have something to fall back upon. We can mentally refer to them and let things slide accordingly. We can easily tweek the schedule when necessary. We can still experience success, even when our daily or weekly or monthly plan goes out the window.

I think first of the long term spiritual goals for my children, which I consider the top priority. If we spent time in God's Word together, or time working on memory work or discussing spiritual issues or training in God's Word, that is a successful day. Period.

Now, I realize that it takes more than that to function as a productive member of society, especially as a citizen of a government that allows participation in various forms as ours does. Our children will need a livelihood, they will need communication skills, and character traits like personal responsibility, fidelity, honesty, and so on.

And that is where the structured, articulated, prioritized long term goals come in handy. As we go about our daily tasks, and as one thing or another comes up to derail our daily plans, we can make decisions based on that formulated set of goals.

Almost any day contains interactions and experiences that count toward long term goals. And with that in mind, every day can be a success.

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