It’s really important to have a long-term plan for your homeschool. If we get stuck looking only at the short term, it could be difficult to course-correct later on. But it’s not difficult to look at the big picture. There are just a few key things to keep in mind!
Start With Academics, Obviously
The whole point of homeschooling is right in the name- school. This doesn’t mean we have to think like an institution or government, of course- but the foundations of knowledge are relatively universal. Will higher education be an important goal for your family? Or is it more important to learn practical skills that will allow your kids to transition to adulthood more easily? Depending on the ages of your kids, they may already show an interest in a field of study or hobby. Do you intend to focus on one area of education more heavily than another? Some families feel it’s important to prepare their children for the technological advances that are happening in our society. Or perhaps your family is focused on a STEM-based education. Everything is fair game, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed or try to focus on too many fields at once.
All the questions above will have different meaning for you and your family. That’s why it’s best to set a path right now. You can always re-direct your intentions if something’s not working or you need a change. But without an idea of your homeschool’s lifetime goals, it will be difficult to make even simple choices. Curriculum, daily schedules, what extra-curriculars to focus on- all these things will become more clear once your lifetime goals are articulated.
Imagine Your Children As They Are Entering Adulthood
I know it can be kind of heartbreaking to think about. But where do you see them? What do you wish most for them? Do they have certain social skills? Abilities? Manners? Do they love to read or write? What do you hope for their higher education or career potential? That’s not to say that they have to have a career chosen. But do you want them to be able to enter the workforce with certain skills or marketable abilities? The reason why we homeschool is so that we can give our kids the opportunities they might not get in a school building. Now is the time to make some of those decisions. We’ll never get to everything on our “Educational Bucket List”. So, we need to set some priorities. What do we feel is crucial? What do we think will benefit them most? Your Homeschool’s Lifetime Goals must set those things out clearly, or everything else will muddy the waters.
Maybe it’s a skill that you don’t have, that you really want your children to garner. Math is more assuredly not my strong suit. So, I hope to give my kids a strong foundation in mathematics, so that they have the confidence to pursue higher levels of skill building if they wish. I would never force my kids to take calculus (or even pre-calc!). But I want them to feel that it’s an option for them, depending on their future desires or career path.
Finally, It’s Important to Consider Their Emotional Well-Being
Setting the stage for a happy, healthy adulthood can be done in so many different ways. We can help our kids understand the importance of exercise, a balanced diet, getting enough rest, etc. But maybe even more important than that could be their emotional health. Since we are their primary role models, we need to be able to provide them with the tools to manage their feelings and thoughts. I’m not prescribing therapy to every child or anything, but even simple basics like mindfulness, self-compassion, or meditation could give our kids a wealth of benefits we might not even be able to predict at this point. When we were in class at our Early Childhood school, we learned about the importance of helping our toddlers learn to regulate their emotions. I would argue that mission does not end at toddlerhood!
Life is full of painful and confusing events and personal battles. The very best gifts we can give our children, besides just our unconditional love, might be those intangible ones- the ones that they fall back on when they’re struggling personally. We might give them the opportunity to discover how to endure a wave of grief or a bout of depression. All of these skills are just as important to a happy, healthy life. And they’re not going to come up in your typical social studies curriculum. But if they’re a part of our Homeschool’s Lifetime Goals, then we can begin the next step: researching how best to bring them to life!
This is the final step in your Homeschool Foundation, after your mission statement (don’t forget to grab the free printable!), Yearly Schedule, and Educational Philosophy. Now, we get to do the realllllly fun part! Curriculum decisions and shopping!!! Buckle Up! It’s gonna be a blast!