Setting Goals for Your Child’s Learning

goalsWhether you are deciding whether or not to hire a tutor, or perhaps to home school, or even to simply figure out the best ways you can help your child (or yourself!) with learning, one of the best things you can do is make a list of goals, keeping in mind the particular needs of the learner(s), and your own beliefs about learning.

To give you some ideas about the kinds of things you might put on your list, here are some of the goals I listed when I was planning for the learning experiences of my own children.  I also jotted down quotes that had impressed me as I planned and researched. Remember, these were our goals – yours should reflect your situation.

  • Bring basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills up to at least minimum average grade level (for a child with learning disabilities – I listed similar goals for each child based on their initial situation and what level I hoped they would reach in a given time period).
  • Encourage and continue to develop love of learning, enthusiasm, and good work ethic.
  • Help the children see how “school learning” is useful in real life by doing as much home teaching as possible in the context of real life situations, kitchen science, nature study, practical skills, etc. “Whenever possible, literacy activities should be real-life activities.”
  • Help develop research and study skills to the point that each one can become a truly self-motivated, self-directed, independent life-long learner.
  • Develop understanding that learning lists of “facts” has little value if those facts are not clearly related to important ideas.  “Facts must be presented with their informing ideas.” – Charlotte Mason
  • Develop awareness of community and educational personnel and resources available, and how to access and profitably  use those resources (For the older children, make this a goal for them to develop for themselves; for younger children, make it a goal for myself to find all the different resources I can use for them, and they can later use themselves.  Look widely – don’t just think “traditional education” – are there mentors, clubs, non-school courses, jobs, etc., in the community and even beyond?)
  • Understand that all of life involves active, on-going learning; that learning is not an isolated “school” activity but involves our whole lives in an integrated way – intellectually, physically, spiritually, volitionally.  (Using a home-based “unit studies” approach can be helpful here).  “Give your child a single valuable idea, and you have done more for his education than if you laid upon his mind the burden of bushels of information” – Charlotte Mason
  • Help the children learn to pursue their interests until they become passions which will call forth his creativity and ingenuity. “Advance from taking a subject to being take up in it.” – Northrup Frye
  • Understand that anything worth doing is worth doing well, to the best of one’s abilities; and ultimately to the glory of the Creator who gives us our abilities and creativity. “Aim for quickness of apprehension and expectation – expect good work.” – Charlotte Mason
  • Help the children to develop positive character qualities (list those I want each child to develop).
  • Help the children to develop a wide base of information about the world they live in, as must as possible in real-life learning situations (immersion in nature, involvement in work and service in the home and in the community, interaction with people of all ages, races, occupations, etc.)
  • Aim that they will not only “remember” what they have learned, but will “understand” – development of higher level, critical thinking abilities.
  • Help them develop powers of attention, discrimination, patient pursuit, and classification – the skills of a naturalist – through use of hands-on, outdoors observation and study.  “Allow quiet growing time, out-of-doors, with space to wonder and grow.” – C. Mason.
  • Help them come to love good writing through exposure to classic literature, both in English and translated from other languages.  “Use real books, written with literary power, rather than textbooks.” – C. Mason.
  • Help them develop an appreciation for the wonder and beauty of creativity through exposure to the arts.  (Lessons from real artists, drama, band, etc.)
  • Help them develop strong and healthy bodies, so that health and fitness will become a life-long habit.
  • Avoid unhealthy competition over letter grades, marks, etc.
  • Remember: “Tell me and I may forget; Show me and I will remember; Let me do and I will understand.”
  • Find home-learning tasks for the children that provide practice of “educational skills” while at the same time sustaining their personal interest.
  • Be patient; find something each one is really interested in, then help them explore their interest from every angle possible.  “. . . immersion is required in a discipline before you produce anything of great novelty.” — R.W. Weisberg
  • “The gift that is in your power to give them is an awareness that whatever they need to know can be learned, and a sense that life only becomes more enjoyable as we learn more and more about the world around us.”
  • Keep in mind: “Because of their very broadly-based nature, schools are largely products of compromise.” – Wendy Priesnitz.  So it is up to myself as parent to understand my children and their characters, personalities, learning styles, learning differences, etc., and to come up with specific learning goals and methods that can be used outside of school (and suggested to their school learning team, if applicable) to best help them as individual learners and persons.
  • Remember: “And so it must always be the first and central task of any teacher [or parent!] to help the student become independent of him [and of “educational systems”], to learn to be his own teacher.”  — John Holt

What goals do you have for your child/ren  — and for yourself — as you follow the adventure of life-long learning?  If you have any questions, or would like to talk about tutoring, home schooling or other educational ideas, be sure to comment below, or contact me.  And check here for information about my tutoring and other services.

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