I have heard many times that homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint, but that truth often gets lost in the day to day of assignment sheets, math facts and the race to finish this year’s curriculum. When your children are young adults, ready to face the world on their own, it won’t matter that they didn’t finish their assignment sheet that one week in 3rd grade or that they didn’t have their addition facts memorized until really late. What will matter is how they finished the marathon. Who they are and what they know right then is what matters most when they graduate and leave your home.
Close your eyes and picture your child as a young adult, just about to go out into the world on his own. Maybe he’s moving into his own apartment or maybe he is moving half way across the country to live in a university dorm room. Take a minute to think about who you want him to be. What are the most important things that he know? What skills should he have?
Write down what comes to your mind. Be broad, yet specific. What types of things make the long term cut? This will be different for every family, some things are more important than others depending on the individual.
On my list I have things like being able to care for them self- like cooking, cleaning, paying the bills, etc. I want them to be able to research and seek out any knowledge they need. Many of the things on my long term goal list for my kids would fall under values and character traits. Notice how nothing I have listed so far is very academic? All those academic goals tend to fall away when I think about the future.
Memorization of math facts or history dates don’t make the cut when it comes to long term goals. I save those for short term goals. All those little academic benchmarks are perfect for putting on your yearly goals planner. You know, at the beginning of the year when everything is fresh and exciting. When your desk and computer screen are full of lesson plans and assignment sheets or fun ideas from Pinterest? Write down those little goals; whether it is to get your first grader reading fluently or your 7th grader up to grade level in math.
But when things get hard, when the January Blahs hit, when you are so burned out you can’t function or your kids refuse to do anything other than fight and complain. That’s when it is important to remember the long term. That it’s okay that your 4th grader still writes a few numbers backwards or your 1st grader is struggling to read. It will happen eventually and there is still plenty of time.
It’s also important to write those long term goals into your short term plans. Spend time breaking your broad goals into much more specific pieces. If you want your child to be able to cook for himself and not just live on canned soup and ramen noodles, you can’t shoo him out of the kitchen when he wants to help, you can’t make everything for him and you have let him take the risk of burning himself or the food and making mistakes. If you spoon feed your child all of their knowledge and never work on how to find information he will end up lost in the university library while trying to write his first paper. Almost all long term goals will require something academic when broken down- to be able to research you must know how to read. To communicate effectively you must know something about language, sentence structure and writing.
It’s hard not to get caught up in the day to day. It’s natural in our society to think in terms of “grade level” and standardized tests. But as homeschoolers we have the unique ability to move past that. And even if you are not a homeschooler, as a parent you have the ability to give your child any experience and lesson. So broadening your outlook every so often to include the future will help you see the bigger picture. And help you raise your children to be the best they can be.
© 2013 – 2016, Sarah R Toney. All rights reserved.