Where Am I Going . . .

And How Will I Know When I Get There?

It happened just like it always does.

No . . . not the inevitable jack-o-laterns decomposing on porches. No . . . not the falling leaves and crisp autumn air. Just the end-of-October “we’ve been trying my new school ideas for eight to ten weeks and now I’m ready to quit” breakdown.

This year, it actually took me almost twelve weeks to hit this point, but hit it I did.

Like a solid brick wall.

Fortunately, this time around, I’ve recharged pretty quickly. A beautiful fall day at the park with my kids helped. Re-reading my favorite homeschool how-to literature has helped too. But one of the best motivations came from my friend Kathy Gowans, who specializes in helping people and organizations figure out what they’re trying to do and how they need to get there.

She reminded me of the three basic questions that I need to ask anytime I want to successfully accomplish something.

  1. What is the need?
  2. What is the goal?
  3. What is the desired outcome  (or, how will I know if the goal is accomplished . . . what will happen)?

As I’ve thought about these three questions, I’ve realized that my approach to homeschooling is often focused on the details (good and bad) without the cohesion that comes from forming the big picture.

So I’m stepping back and answering these questions. As I’ve started to do so, I’ve realized that I need to answer them both for my over-arching homeschool vision (otherwise known as a vision and mission statements!) AND I need to answer them for the day-to-day functioning of our home.

My first thought was “this isn’t going to be that hard,” but then I started stumbling over the different terms.

What really IS the difference between a “need” and a “goal” and an “outcome”? Aren’t they all basically the same thing? If I “need” to feel like our home has successful learning experiences, then isn’t the “goal” to have successful learning experiences? And wouldn’t the “outcome” be that we had successful learning experiences? And if the three are the same, what’s the point in dividing them out in the first place?

So I did a little research, and I realized that there are actually two definable types of goals: outcome goals and process goals. And with regards to these questions, I need to focus on process goals. (I really liked this article for succinctly explaining the difference.) (Heidi Halvorsen’s book “Succeed” that I reviewed before also has a great deal of information about this.) I’m going to explain the difference and how to apply it in a future post.

For now though, I’m just going to focus on the first question. “What are my needs–and the needs of my children–with regards to learning and our homeschool?”

This question is not going to be easy to answer. I’m going to give myself a few days to really think about it. I’ll let you know what I come up with.

If you want to come along for the ride, I’d love to hear what you come up with too.

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