In college, I was first introduced to the concept of setting goals. It was one of the first times I remember sitting down and mapping out what I thought I wanted my future to look like. Doing this was a wonderful, life changing experience! It was one I wish I would have done earlier in my years, to be able to let my imagination go wild within the confines of paper as I thought out the direction for my life.

Nowadays, children do this much early, especially in the school arena. I know as homeschoolers, we march to a different drum. However, even the most independent drummer needs a score to follow or a game plan.

Setting goals is much like filling out a wish list for the future. Things to learn, places to go, accomplishments to be had. The great thing is, you can start to begin brain storming and thinking about your goals at any time!

In the elementary years, the list will be simple and guided by parental influence. What do they want to be when they grow up? What are some things they want to learn that are within their grasp? Learning how to sew, type, or cook would be good places to start.

In the middle school years, this list should grow to begin to include specializing in their strengths. Do they excel in a particular sport? How about getting involved in an organized team where they can grow that skill? Do they enjoy writing or acting? What about writing a family newspaper or joining an acting troupe for young actors? Perhaps they have their eye on learning a programming language or even travel when they get into high school. Now is a good time for them to begin saving for such an experience!

In the high school years, this list should begin to gain detail. Field of desired study, college or work or both! Expanding on a strength or gifting and going further with it. Starting a team for a sport they love, writing a neighborhood newspaper or blog, taking classes at a local community college, volunteering regularly at a soup kitchen or animal shelter, joining an organized group for travel and so on.

As your child works on their goals, I would encourage you to allow them the freedom to run wild with their imagination! Let them get it out of their heads and down on paper. Once it’s down on paper, you can then ask them to pick a few goals that they would like to begin working on. It’s a good idea to check in with them periodically to see how they are doing on these goals and if they need any guidance.

Don’t forget to update these goals too. The younger the child, the more frequently the goals need updating. At this young age, likes and enjoyment can change quickly! For middle school students, updating goals twice a year is probably good. For high schoolers, doing a once a year update is probably sufficient. This could be a project for their New Year’s every year!

Setting goals is a good way to chart a course for your days and even your years. It’s a good habit to get into and one that can be utilized throughout life!