Thursday, July 25, 2013
How to Plan Your Homeschool Year :: Step 1 Goal Setting
I've decided to do a series of posts based on the workshops I've done for homeschoolers over the course of the past several years. If you're just starting out or considering homeschooling your child or children, there are definitely steps you can take to make this process less overwhelming and stressful.
I'll start by saying that the fact you've decided to take full responsibility for providing your child/ren with a learning rich environment and thus opening up the world to him/her/them is admirable. You may be feeling excitement about your decision and as you explore the world of homeschooling may also feel lost in the sea of all your options. Surprisingly enough there are a great number of options now readily available to homeschoolers now days. There are more and more families opting to homeschool for various reasons and thus there is a large market now just for us.
Before we delve into all those options, it is extremely important that you and your partner or spouse, if applicable, sit down and have an in depth conversation about your ideas, hopes and goals for this endeavour as a family. Every family is different and thus your family's goals should reflect this.
It's so easy to look at what another family is doing and try to mimic it to a 'T' and when things don't work out the same way you become frustrated and forget all your reasons for wanting to homeschool in the first place.
Here are some questions to start you thinking about your goals. You can answer them for yourself to begin with and then ask them again during the discussion with your partner.
Why are you homeschooling?
What are your goals as a family?
What kind of children are you wanting to develop?
What are your hopes for who they will be (not career wise, but people wise; who do you want them to be)?
What things are important to you?
What things do you want your children to be able to do?
What things do you want your children to know?
What things do your children want to be able to do? To know?
And these are only the beginning questions. Let your discussion cover not only the hopes and dreams for your family but also the practical things you want to do as well (i.e. places you want to do, activities you want to do).
After identifying your goals continue talking. Talk about the financials of what homeschooling requires.
What is your yearly budget for homeschooling going to be?
What will your monthly budget be?
Will you look into purchasing memberships and subscriptions?
What about field trip costs?
Will you be traveling as part of your homeschooling? How will you plan for these expenses?
What about school supplies?
What about homeschool group or co-op fees?
Will you be attending conferences and workshops to develop your skills or to learn more about specific curriculum?
How much money will you set aside for package curriculum?
There are lots of free and nearly free resources readily available online and deals offered specifically for homeschooling families to attend museums, etc. However, having a definite budget for your homeschooling is still necessary.
This discussion may turn into several discussions that take place over the course of a week or two. Take all the time you need to get on the same page about homeschooling. This is extremely important as you start out--to be on the same page. I've spoken with many homeschooling mothers who have not had the support of their partners/spouses. Homeschooling is already a challenging venture for many, add not having the support of your partner/spouse and this can raise the level of stress for you and everyone in the home. Make the time for this foundational discussion.
At the end of your discussions, you should be able to write out clear goals for your homeschooling journey and/or year. By determining what your goals are each next step will become surprisingly easier. If you've been homeschooling for a while and haven't done this yet--setting goals--it's never too late to take some time to do it. I have personal found that by doing this I'm less likely to 'jump on a bandwagon' or spend money without thinking things through. I know what our goals are for our family and can quickly steer clear of things that may initially catch my eye but don't match up well with where we're headed as a family.
If you're willing, comment below with your goals for your family or share how setting goals has benefited your family's journey.
Should you just be finding this series and would like to jump quickly to the next step, click here.