We were at dinner with a friend a few weeks ago, and they asked me how we homeschooled, or how we decided. Before I answer that question, I always ask them one back. What are you goals for your children? What do they need right now? What are your goals for them long term, 5-20 years from now? It doesn’t really matter what style of learner or where they get their learning from – do you set down short and long term goals for their development?
Short Term: We sit down at the end of the school year and write out how they did through the year, and then look for any gaps or next steps in their learning. During the year, if we see a missing piece to their knowledge or character, I will pray about finding a way to fill it.
I saw my friend again this week, and she asked me to come over and help her start the goal planning. I had mentioned few things we were doing – so I thought I’d share them with you – show you how the ‘meeting those goals’ plays out in real life.
One thing that became clear at the end of this year, is that although both boys read well, they still ask me to explain their assignments. Since we have a very project led, delight directed, relaxed learning, we don’t follow instructions in a curriculum often. Most times, the instructions are to me, and I plan the learning environment, and they jump in.
It became clear that my youngest son needed practice being an independent student. I wrote a little bit about that on my Logo post yesterday. Another tool that came our way this month has been curriculum from Moving Beyond the Page. (I’ll write a review and give details for the product in a later post.) The student is supposed to be able to look at their daily assignment, read a passage in a book, and then work on a project, or fill out a notebooking style worksheet page. We have been encouraging Jon to do the entire process on his own without help. Our goal – is to have him working independently by fall.
Part of Goal Setting for Kids – is watching for behaviors in the parents. Usually, if you are looking at a short term goal that is a gap situation, it probably came from the teacher/resources. I needed to set a goal for myself, to set him up to be successful with good resources, have it be interesting to him, and then step away. I spend too much time being excited about the projects and become a 3rd student in the room. I need to be able to wait until he has tried to work through the lessons a couple of times before I step in. I need to ask him what he’s done so far and ask what part of the lesson he doesn’t understand. The hard part of goal setting, is that many times it has more to do with my behavior, than my child’s.
In this particular assignment, he was supposed to build axels and wheels, using any supplies from their kit, to create a car. Then using a form, he was to test the speed on three different surfaces. They kept it pretty wide open. I heard Jon question several times if what he was doing was “right” or “how I’d do it”. The instructions didn’t say to ask your mom or do it “right”. Any car, from any part of the kit. It did mention using a small box, and he found a small box with paper clips, so he technically did still follow directions.
On this particular day, another project was to see a Screw as an “inclined plane wrapped around a pole”. They had a project from him, and then a few paragraphs telling him about inclined planes and screws. We are using IEW Writing with Structure and Style and one of our goals is for him to be able to start narrating what he has read, without using copywork of the original text. IEW has a way of using outlining, pulling out key words, then reconstructing the paragraph without looking at the original text. As encouraged by Andrew Pudewa, we used the text from our Science Kit to practice our writing goals.
We were able to learn about Science, while working on our goal to complete lessons without help, and another goal of narration of text for notebooking, while finishing our writing assignment.
We talk about these goals with the boys. Then we let them know when we are working on them. Jon might not have wanted to narrate the first paragraph of the Screw lesson – but he knew we were working on the goals of using key words to re-construct paragraphs. He might want me to help explain and work on the car together but he knows that our summer goal is for him to become an independent worker. If he can be an independent worker, he can do more research and not get frustrated or behind on his work when I am busy. If he can step up his written narration, he’ll be able to take better notes on what he is researching and communicate with greater detail to people about topics he is interested in.
As far as character and long term goals are concerned – I think that might be a whole different post . . . . We’re working on it!!! ha!