When I think about goals, I often think of all the ones I haven’t met: the missed exercise days, the unfinished writing projects, that not-even-started sewing project. The list could go on. It gets discouraging. But I have success stories: a child who is enthusiastic about reading, a child who is becoming a master organizer, a child who writes for fun. That didn’t happen overnight. Progress has seemed slow at times, but my children are actually growing up. I’m excited about the people they are becoming. They have a lot of potential. But they still need a lot of guidance and a lot of motivation. I need to continually set goals for my children—personal goals and homeschool goals—to help them continue to grow and mature.
Why is it important to set goals for your children?
Setting goals for children is important for several reasons. First, it gives you the opportunity to teach your children life skills such as planning, organization, and time management. Second, goals help your children develop positive character traits such as determination, persistence, and perseverance. Third, meeting a goal can help boost your children’s confidence so that they can be ready to tackle more difficult tasks in the future.
13 Examples of Setting Goals for Children
Ride a bike.
Most kids between the ages of 4 and 8 possess the motor skills to ride a bike without training wheels. Encourage your children to learn how to ride a bike on two wheels.
Master math facts.
Mastering math facts in the lower elementary grades will reap big benefits later.
Read a certain number of books in a year.
When determining the number of books for your children to read, you will want to consider your children’s reading ability. But aim big! The more your children read, the better readers they will become.
Run a 5K.
Training for a 5K is a great family activity, and kids of all ages can participate.
Write a book.
Encourage your child to practice creative writing. Create a goal of words or pages written per day. It’s a great way to practice essential communication skills.
Crochet or knit a project.
If your children are interested in knitting or crocheting, encourage them to work towards completing a project.
Cook a meal.
Do you have a budding chef in your house? Work towards developing the skills necessary to cook a few courses or a certain number of meals each week.
Keep a room neat.
Does your child need to work on housekeeping skills? Encourage your child to keep a room neat every day for a set number of days.
Tend a garden.
Are your children interested in gardening? Start with simple seeds and then possibly a full garden. Have them plan, plant, and tend a garden.
Learn to type.
Typing is a useful and sometimes even necessary skill for life in today’s world, and there are many fun ways to learn. Encourage your children to practice and meet a set goal of a certain number of words per minute.
Learn how to swim.
Swimming skills save lives. Encourage your children to take swimming lessons even if they are afraid.
Try new foods.
Lots of kids balk at trying new foods, but encourage your children to make a goal to try one or more new foods every week. They might discover some new favorites.
Memorize a Bible passage, long poem, or short story.
Memorization is a great brain exercise that will reap long-term benefits.
How to Set Goals for Children
Make sure the goal is realistic.
You will want to encourage your children to set goals that are challenging but within their reach. I don’t want to set goals for my child that would be impossible for her to achieve. For example, as much as my six-year-old would like to, she will not be able to achieve a goal such as “sew a doll dress” in 2024. She’s fascinated by sewing, but she doesn’t have the fine motor skills necessary to sew quite yet. She would end up frustrated and discouraged if she attempted garment sewing. A better goal for her would be to spend one hour a week on developing her sewing skills by practicing with sewing cards or another age-appropriate sewing kit.
Make an action plan to achieve the goal.
Maybe your child wants to improve his or her piano skills in 2024. A goal like that can be overwhelming unless your child can break it down into specific, smaller goals. You can help your child come up with a list of the steps needed to achieve the goal. The list might look something like this:
- Increase practice time by 5 minutes every day until practice time reaches 45 minutes per day.
- Play 5 minutes of scales every day.
- Play for an audience (e.g., extended family members, at a nursing home or friend’s house) twice per month.
- Work through a hymnbook or other songbook by trying to learn a new song each week.
Provide accountability and support.
Your job is two-fold. First, be your children’s cheerleader as they work to achieve their goals. If a bike keeps tipping over, help your child up and encourage continued practice. When the dog digs up a newly planted garden, help replant it. If a piano piece sounds horrible, give gentle instruction and cheer on improvement.
Second, keep your children accountable. If your child is working on a project, check in frequently to see how much progress has been made. You can also ask your child to use a journal to document any progress toward meeting a goal.
Successes need to be recognized. If your child has worked hard to achieve a goal, be sure to celebrate it. For example, one of my daughters set an ambitious personal time goal for a 5K race last summer. She trained hard and ran her best race ever, winning her age category and beating her time goal. We celebrated by going out to eat at a fancy restaurant. The personal satisfaction she had from meeting her goal combined with the support from her family has encouraged her to continue working to improve.
Tips to help Set Goals in 2024
Define your goals.
What do you want to achieve through your homeschool in 2024? Think about each of your children and define each one’s strengths and weaknesses. How can you encourage growth in each of them this coming year? What skills do they still need to develop?
Choose 1 or 2 goals per child to focus on.
You may have heard the saying “When we try to do everything, we can’t do anything well. And when we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing.” As homeschool moms, we may be tempted to try fixing everything at once. But we’ll have more success if we choose only a few goals for our children to focus on. Choose the most important ones and leave the rest for future years.
Break up larger goals into smaller ones.
An elementary teacher once told me that “elephants can be eaten one bite at a time.” I often think of that quote when I am overwhelmed. And sometimes goals for your child can feel overwhelming. For example, your goal may be to “improve Sally’s math grade.” That’s a big goal! You might not even be sure how to start working on that one. Instead, break the goal up into an action item like “spend 15 minutes with Sally after dinner reviewing her math assignment.” That is much more doable.
Keep track of progress.
I find it easy to make progress toward goals for my children for the first few weeks of homeschooling. But then life happens, and suddenly I am making no progress at all. Sound familiar?
I’ve found that documenting my progress (or lack of progress) is helpful. I add the goal’s action item to my daily to-do list and check it off when I complete it. For example, my goal might be to improve my children’s physical fitness. I could add an action item on my to-do list such as “run 1 mile” or “hike for 30 minutes.” At the end of the week, I can look back and see how often we engaged in physical activity. Some weeks we do well. Other weeks end with an embarrassingly large number of empty checkboxes. But even that can be helpful. Seeing my lack of progress can motivate me to renew my commitment.
Elevate and set goals regularly.
Sometimes goals need to be tweaked. And sometimes we need a whole new set of goals to work on. Make time in your homeschool rhythm to evaluate your current goals and to set new ones. You’ll always have something achievable to work on.
If you or your children have achieved a goal, celebrate it. Get a treat or do something fun. A reward will help motivate the next challenge.
We’re getting ready to enter a new year. As you fill in your planner, take some time to set some appropriate goals for your children—try one personal goal and one homeschool goal per child. Then come alongside them and help them as they strive to meet those goals. As the year progresses, you’ll have opportunities to see your children grow and mature day by day. It will be exciting to see!