Just like anything in the world, one should begin homeschooling with short-term and long-term goals. Goals give you a purpose and direction and that is exactly what is needed, especially when things get tough.
These are your goals, the parents/guardians who will be doing the schooling. These should be SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound. What do you want to accomplish on a daily basis? What do you want completed monthly, quarterly, mid-year, and at the end of the year? These goals will be how you rate your success and give you a sense of accomplishment that will help you continue. Have those goals in your mind and have them written down so you can refer back to them as often as needed, but at least once a month.
If you feel that you and your child(ren) are unable to complete your goals on a regular basis, you should reevaluate to see if those goals are realistic for your situation. Every family will have different abilities because of their family dynamics. No single mold fits every family. Don’t compare your family, children, and situations to others, it may lead to dissatisfaction and to discouragement.
Every Child should have their own personal goals as well. These may not be as specific or realistic as an adults but the adult can help them set them to be achievable. For example, “we will complete X number of units in X number of subjects in the month of October.” Children need to know what is expected of them so that they may pace themselves to be successful. Keep in mind that children don’t necessarily understand or view success the same way adults do. Children also may not be able to set goals for themselves and need guidance.
Don’t compare the goals and/or accomplishments of one child to another. Each child is different and develops at their own pace. As parents/educators who guide them in this very important endeavor, we must be supportive. We need to be especially supportive in times when they feel unsuccessful. Comparing them to their peers/siblings will only add unnecessary pressure and resentment towards those whom they are being compared to as well as towards those who compare them.
I am not saying not to have high expectations for your children. We should indeed have them try to their best ability but keep in mind each child’s ability is different. One child may be a whiz at math and can attain high grades without much effort whereas another child may work for hours and still get B’s or C’s; recognize their effort and not just the outcome, just as Allah judges us for our efforts and not just the outcome. Children need encouragement and a loving and caring environment to succeed. That can not be provided without the support of the parent.
Short Term Goals
These goals are for a yearly basis and can even be broken down to quarterly or mid year. This will help one stay focused and not overwhelmed. Take each day as it is and see how you can improve. If you have you feel that your goals are not being fulfilled on a daily basis, re-evaluate them and set up some simpler ones.
Maybe your goal is only short term. Some parents may pull children out of traditional schools for grades, if they have fallen behind, need extra help in certain subjects, or memorizing Quran. These are all perfectly acceptable but keep your goals clear. These goals should be explicit between the parents and child(ren). Keep communications open between all parties as clarity will allow success and harmony in the family.
Something that I have done with my children is, we have 160 lessons/per grade, our goal was to finish all the lessons by the end of May. We broke it down further to 20 lessons every month and gave ourselves one month buffer for vacation and breaks, difficulty with concepts, more engaging topics, illness, and/or anything else that may come up.
In general when people plan their long term goals, it’s a 5-year and a 10-year plan. However, in our case, you can break them down as Pre-Elementary (Birth – Kindergarten), Elementary (Grades 1-5), Middle School (6-8), and High School (9-12). The ultimate goal is what you decide between you and your family.