Setting SMART Homeschool Goals
How many of us have felt like a homeschool failure at one point or another?
It’s almost always because we’re comparing ourselves or our kids to someone else, which is always a mistake. But how do we turn that around into feeling like a homeschool success?
Simply by achieving our goals.
Ok, I admit achieving goals isn’t really all that simple.
Experts say over and over again that if you want to accomplish something, you need to set goals. But simply setting goals isn’t enough.
Writing our goals down on paper is a great start. But goals must be matched with a plan and a course of action if we want success.
In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Let’s start at the beginning – Why should you set homeschool goals anyway?
Simply put, to get more done! Or to get more of the important stuff done.
People naturally tend to have goals, whether written or not. Things like “I want to finish our school work by May 20th,” or “I want to include more music in our homeschool,” are goals!
But do you notice that they tend to not get done?
It’s because they aren’t SMART goals.
What are SMART goals and how do we set them?
By SMART goals I mean goals that are:
Yes, your goals do need to meet ALL these criteria, but that’s okay. Because every single goal we have can meet these criteria. It just takes creativity and know-how.
“I want to include more music,” isn’t specific enough.
“I want to have music lessons 3 times a week for 30 minutes,” is better.
The more specific, the better.
It’s okay to start with a non-specific goal like “I want to learn French.” But you’ll need to be more specific when writing your plans.
You need to be able to measure your goal. Or in other words, you need to know when you’ve reached your goal. You need a solid ending point – a finish line – for every goal.
If your goal isn’t already measurable, add “I’ll know this is accomplished when…” to the end. Fill in the blank and you’ll have your measurement.
Your goal should be ambitious enough that it excites you but not so great that it’s impossible.
Think about your ultimate ‘one-day’ goal and then tone it back a bit.
Scheduling 15 hours of school work a day is not achievable (well, not for most of us). Scheduling time for a nature walk 3 times a week might be much more doable.
Your goal has to end with a result (otherwise it isn’t really a goal in the first place).
If you think your goal might be lacking a result, ask yourself: Why do you want this goal?
Keeping asking yourself why until you figure out the result you are looking for.
When you achieve your goal, you should be able to look back and see what you’ve accomplished. If my goal is to teach my kids how to cook, at the end I should be able to see that they can cook something.
If your goal doesn’t have an endpoint, you cannot reach your goal.
People are much more likely to achieve their goals if they can track their progress. We all know it’s highly motivating to see how far we’ve come. But more importantly, there will be a time in your process where you don’t feel like it’s going well. Having a record that you can look at will help keep the motivation going.
But simply having a tracker isn’t enough. You actually have to track your progress.
Yes, it may be tedious and feel counter-intuitive at times. But people who track their progress are far more likely to achieve their goals than people who do not track their progress.
If you want to achieve your goals, seriously consider consistent tracking.
What kinds of homeschool goals should I set?
This is a highly personal question that only you can answer. But I get that setting goals can feel overwhelming at first, so here are a few ideas to get the gears turning.
A word of caution – don’t pick a whole bunch of goals and try to accomplish them all at once. Slow and steady wins the race.
Pick one goal and work on it. When you feel confident and comfortable with that goal, you may choose another.
Also, consider including your kids in your homeschool goals. You might want to finish a year’s worth of math in 6 months but maybe they want to do an intense math study. Discuss your goals and try to come up with something together.
These goal ideas are broad and do not meet SMART criteria. It is up to you to personalize them and make them true goals.
- Read more
- Start a hobby
- Spend more time on interests (kid’s interests!)
- Visit the library more
- Spend more time outside
- Play games for school more often
- Watch more documentaries
- Stay home more often/Go out more often
- More field trips
- Work on a specific skill (handwriting, math facts, note taking)
- Do less ‘academic’ work and follow more interests
- Finish schoolwork by noon daily
- Plant a garden
- Teach your kids more independent learning techniques
There are so many goals you can set; the best goal is something personal for you.
Start asking yourself what you would like to change in your homeschool and see if you can mold it into a goal.
How to set a SMART goal, make a plan, and get it done:
The real key to all of this is fitting all the pieces together.
So just follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to achieving your goals!
I’ve also made a handy printable for planning out your SMART Goals. Head over to Royal Baloo to pick it up!
- Choose a goal. Decide on your problem to solve, habit to change, or dream to accomplish.
- Ask why? Keep asking yourself ‘why’ to determine the reasons behind your goal.
- Write it down! Write your goal down and check to make sure it is specific, measurable, achievable, results-driven, and trackable.
- Break it down. Consider breaking your goal down into chunks of smaller goals. It’s much easier to focus on a goal for 2 weeks, 30 days, or even 6 months than a goal that takes much longer. So if your goal is a long-term goal, break it down into shorter goals and make sure they are also SMART.People start losing interest and momentum if a goal takes too long. Or they wait to get started because they have so much time left. Breaking the goals down helps.
- Write your plan. How will your daily and weekly habits contribute to your goal? What do you need to do specifically to achieve your goal? For the record ‘Read more’ isn’t a plan. “Read for 30 minutes a day’ is closer. I like to make at least 3 habits for each goal, and at least one of those habits should be daily. So perhaps the three habits could be Visit the library once a week on Mondays, read for 30 minutes in the morning before breakfast, discuss books with a friend 3 times a week.
- Make your tracker. How can you track your goal? If it’s reading more, make a chart where you can mark down when you read.
- Get going! Don’t wait for Monday. Don’t wait for tomorrow morning. Just start. While we like the clean aspects of waiting for a start day, it’s not necessary. You can start your goals on Friday at 3 p.m.
- Aim for 75% (or more). Okay, I know I’m going to throw a few of you here. We’re not aiming for 100%? No, absolutely not. 100% is an all or nothing motto and that’s how goals get abandoned quickly. What happens when you decide to play a game with your kids every day and then you miss one day? Your motivation drops. Then you might miss another day. The more days you miss, the more of a failure you feel causing you to abandon your goals.Don’t do that. Aim for 75%. If you miss a day, it’s okay. Your goal isn’t going to vanish. You haven’t failed. In fact, you’re still well on track!
- Tell someone else. Yes, tell someone else. Your significant other, your kids, your parents, your best friends – someone! We are much more likely to stick to our goals when we have shared them with someone else.
We all have dreams we want to achieve. Let’s turn those dreams into reality by setting goals, making a plan, and doing it.
Check out our post on our new lecture series teaching evolution here.