Whether you want to homeschool, to be a good parent-tutor for your child, to encourage your child to be a life-long learner, or even to hire a tutor for your child, a really great, basic idea is to sit down and make a list of your personal goals for each of your children.
Looking through some of my old materials from when my children were of school age, I found a list of goals I set for my own son. He had a severe learning disability related to the use of symbols, including writing, numbers, and other symbols, and therefore found it difficult to develop literacy skills–and yet he ended up graduating high school on an academic program with consistent honour roll status. I truly believe that creating this list of goals really helped me to focus on his needs and encourage his learning.
Maybe this list of goals I created for my child will give you some ideas for your own goal setting for your children. Just remember, you need to make a list that comes from your own life situation, your personal beliefs about learning/education, and the specific needs of each of your own child/ren. Here’s the list I made for my son; I hope it will inspire you!
- Bring his basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills up to at least minimum average grade level. Then build on those basic skills to help him reach his potential and have the literacy skills he needs for the rest of his life–education, work, relationships, etc.
- Encourage and help him continue to develop his love of learning, enthusiasm, and good work ethic.
- Help him to 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 him develop research and study skills to the point that he can become a truly self-motivated, self-directed, independent life-long learner.
- Help him understand that learning lists of “facts” has little value if those facts are not clearly related to “big ideas.” “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
- Find and then make him aware of community and educational personnel and resources available to him, and how to access and profitably use those resources himself. Look widely – don’t just think “traditional education” – are there mentors, clubs, non-school courses, jobs, etc?)
- Enable him to understand that all of life involves active, ongoing learning; that learning is not an isolated “school” activity by involves his whole life in an integrated way – intellectually, physically, spiritually, volitionally. (Using a home-based “unit studies” approach can be helpful here).
- Help him learn to pursue his interests until they become passions which will call forth his creativity and ingenuity. “Advance from taking a subject to being taken up in it.” – Northrup Frye
- Help him 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 gave him his abilities and creativity. “Aim for quickness of apprehension and expectation – expect good work.” – Charlotte Mason
- Help him to develop positive character qualities (list specific ones you want your own child/children to develop).
- Help to develop in him a wide base of information about the world he lives in, as much 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 he will not only “remember” what he has learned, but will “understand” – development of higher level, critical thinking abilities.
- Help him develop his 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 him 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 him develop an appreciation for the wonder and beauty of creativity through exposure to the arts. (Lessons from real artists, drama, band)
- Help him develop a strong and healthy body so that health and fitness will become a life-long habit.
- Avoid unhealthy competition of 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 him that provide practice of “educational skills” while at the same time sustaining his personal interest.
- Be patient; find something he is really interested in, then help him explore it from every angle possible. “Immersion is required in a discipline before you produce anything of great novelty.”
- “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 his parent to understand my child and his character, personality, 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 his school learning team) to best help him as a specific learner and person.
- Remember: “And so it must always be the first and central task of any teacher [read: parent!] to help the student become independent of him [and of “educational systems”], to learn to be his own teacher.” — John Holt
If you found this list helpful, maybe you’ll want to also check out my post “Some Basic Learning Goals.”
What goals do you have for your child/children? Why not sit down right now and start making a list? And feel free to share some of your goals in the comments for others to consider. Thank you!