If You Want to Homeschool with Amazing Focus, Try These Five Moves
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
— Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)
It’s a new year, which means you’re probably thinking about setting some goals. Do you know where to start? How many should you make? Setting goals is one thing; achieving them is quite another. So I’m going to give you five goal-setting moves to provide some focus that could help make 2023 your best homeschooling year ever.
Michelangelo has been credited with saying,
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we reach it.”
Our goals need to be realistic, but they should also stretch and challenge us. So let’s get right to those top five moves.
Move #1 – Put Your Goals in Writing
You’ve likely heard it said that a goal isn’t real until you put it in writing. I’ve found such truth in that statement. Something magical happens when you put pen to paper or if you prefer, fingers to keyboard. Writing a goal helps you articulate specific details that may have been fuzzy in your mind. It also adds some accountability and keeps you from revising the goal arbitrarily. I write all my goals in the note-taking app Evernote, so they are handy and literally in the palm of my hand. By reviewing your written goals throughout the year, you can quickly assess your progress and either pick up the pace, if needed, or get started before too much time passes.
Move #2 – Use a Goal-Setting Template
My goal-setting template has morphed through the years as I’ve customized it to work for me. My current template includes ten categories that you may find applicable: Spiritual, Service/Ministry, Physical, Mental/Educational, Social/Emotional, Financial, Marriage/Family, Work, Travel, and Other.
Just so you know, some logic delineates these categories, especially the first four. The Spiritual category relates to Jesus’ greatest commandment: to love God with all of our being. A typical goal here is to memorize a long section of scripture. The Service/Ministry category reflects the second-greatest commandment: to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Physical category entails loving God with all my strength or body. A lower weight or faster time on a 5K run is a common goal here. The focus of the Mental/Educational category is on loving Him with the whole mind. Just think of all the good books you could read to make progress in this category! The Social/Emotional category is about loving the Lord with all my heart and soul. Maintaining membership in a Christian CEO accountability group fills the bill on this one.
Every year I set one, two, or three goals per category, as well as select a theme verse for the year.
Move #3 – Focus on Your Top Three Goals
Most experts say you should write down ten goals and then scrap the bottom seven to concentrate only on the top three. Their point is that you need to focus. Obviously, you’ll be most effective in this new year if you actually accomplish your goals, especially those top three. Set too many, and it’s possible that you’ll give up quickly or that a lack of focus will result in little achievement.
With up to three goals per category, this template has the potential to generate a list of 30 goals. So how are you to focus? Try looking at the whole list and picking the top three to five. If these are the ones you believe will make the most difference in your life and homeschool, make sure you accomplish these top-priority goals.
I strongly encourage you to meet with your children to help them set goals too. This is not meant to stress them out. Make goal-setting an exciting time by helping your kids imagine what they might accomplish this year. If your son isn’t riding a bicycle yet, let him know this could be the year. If your daughter is barely reading, help her to understand the joy of reading a book all by herself for the first time. Maybe an older child who wants to go on a short-term mission trip can set a fund-raising goal.
We have found goal-setting time with our kids to be very encouraging for everyone involved. Think of it as your middle-of-the-school-year parent-teacher conference. As a homeschooling parent, you know your kids better than anyone. Let your children know you want them to soar like eagles, shine like the stars, explore creation, and fall more in love with Jesus Christ, their Savior. Be open to how God will redirect their steps along the way, but help them to recognize that it’s good for man to plan a few steps.
Move #5 – Keep This Crucial Weekly Discipline
Okay, you’ve used my template, put your goals in writing, selected the top three to five, and done the same with the whole family. Now what? This next, vital part of the process happens each and every week.
Wise and disciplined goal-setters will look at their weekly to-do list in light of their annual goals. The most effective goal-setters go a step further by answering this question: What one thing should I do this week that will make all the difference in the world? Asking yourself this question each week can give you the focus you need to make 2023 your best year ever. This weekly discipline has the potential to help you reach the goals you set for the year.
So what one thing can you do this week that will make all the difference in the world? You might choose an action directly related to one of your goals or something that would bless a specific person in your life. Examples include:
- This week I am buying flowers for my wife.
- This week I’ll set up an automatic deposit into a savings account.
- This week I’m memorizing Psalm 1.
- This week I’m playing catch with my ten-year-old.
- This week I’m fasting on Wednesday.
- This week I’m visiting my friend in the hospital.
- This week I’m walking thirty minutes a day, every day.
- This week I’m taking a tech fast all day on Sunday.
It isn’t enough to pick the most important move. If this action could truly make all the difference in the world this week, then for heaven’s sake, make it happen! I promise you this habit will put you on the road to being highly effective in meeting your goals. This weekly practice is the amazing focus you are seeking.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to measure your progress at the end of the year. Due to the work you’ve already done, this should be fairly simple. Here’s what I mean. You have your list because you put it in writing, and you’ve likely marked several items “DONE” as you went through the year. Although I wish I could accomplish everything on my list, the fact is that I challenge myself just enough that I never achieve a perfect score. You have to decide for yourself how much stretch will result in a proper balance of motivation and encouragement.
So what is that one thing you are going to do this week that will make all the difference in the world? Now make it happen.
A Resource to Help
With all this talk about planning, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a resource to help? An ultimate planner just for homeschool parents like you? Apologia can help you stay organized and focused with The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Deb Bell. So don’t delay. Get one for yourself today, and start the new year off right. You can do this thing called homeschooling. And you can do it with stunning confidence, contagious joy, and amazing focus.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based curriculum for homeschooling families. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! You can read more of his articles and devotionals at the Apologia Blog, and you can listen to a weekly message at the Let’s Talk Homeschool Podcast.
© 2023 Davis Carman