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Learning to Plan and Set Goals

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teach your children to plan

 

How do you teach your children to plan? Is there a fool-proof method you can use in your homeschool to show your child how to set and achieve goals? I sat down the other day to think about it, and I suspect the answer might surprise you: it is not possible.

I have two children, one boy and one girl. My daughter has known how to plan for a long time. My son, on the other hand, is only now setting goals for himself and working towards them without help.

What did I do to help them learn? Well, I am not actually certain I did anything productive. I spent an awful lot of time telling them how to do it. OK, in all honesty I kind of went overboard with the planners and the long, boring speeches about goal setting and the benefits of sticking to a plan.

None of it worked. I cannot tell you how many planners I gave them that today remain empty, except for the first few pages.

I think I made one big mistake. I thought that if I just told them over and over about planning then they would think, “Oh yes, this planning thing that Mommy keeps yammering on about sounds wonderful!”

My daughter did not start setting her own goals until I gave up and stopped the daily planner sales pitch. My son took longer, though, and I think I know why.

Children rarely learn by being told. I am sure you know that as well as I do, as it is something all homeschooling moms figure out pretty quickly! Children learn by exploring for themselves, and also—here is the important bit—they learn by patterning themselves off a role model. My daughter’s role model is me, her mother, and my son’s is his dad.

I am the primary homeschool teacher. When my children were younger, my husband spent a lot of time with them but not much time teaching. Now that my son is older, my husband spends a great deal of time with him teaching and mentoring—not just the subjects typical of homeschooling dads like math and computer programming, but also how to be a man and care for your family.

My daughter figured out how to plan by watching me as I homeschooled her and kept the household. And my son took longer because he needed that so-important time with my husband to understand how a man plans his life and how he goes about supporting a wife and family.

So nothing I could have said to my children about the virtues of color-coded planning systems and calendars could have possibly helped. What I needed to do was step back, relax, and let the actions of my husband and myself demonstrate planning and goal setting. That takes patience and faith and, frankly, it took me a long time to be able to let go and trust my children.

 

Kirsten West – I am a homeschooling mom with twin teenagers. We have homeschooled them since they were young and now that I have more time, I blog, write math books and children’s stories, crochet a lot in the evenings, and work as an independent consultant for The Old Schoolhouse as the SchoolhouseTeachers.com Affiliate Manager.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
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