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A Positive Plug for Planning
by Beverley Paine, Nov 2013
I know some people are not overt planners and just follow their nose, doing what comes next, meeting needs as they arise. I do that too, but having an overall expressed plan helps to guide me to my goals.
For a few years our family tried to establish a New Year's tradition. It lasted about 3 years and in hindsight I realised that I probably should have started it when the kids were younger. What we did was sat down on New Year's day and drew a poster together of what we wanted to happen throughout the coming year. Then we'd get out last year's poster and celebrate all of the 'wants' that we'd achieved. Somethings, like winning the lotto, were celebrated by noting how much extra cash we'd had to spend on things. And other things, such as owning a Lamborghini, might be brought forward to the next year.
What it taught me was that without overtly focusing on those goals or putting a lot of effort into achieving them, a lot of our goals, ambitions and wants were realised.
Towards the end of each year I'd get out my philosophy statement from our home-grown home education curriculum and read through it. It stated my long term goals for the education of my children. I used to think it might need tweaking as they grew or as we grew as a family and our needs changed. But because I put two weeks of my life into producing that statement, thinking really carefully about what education meant to me, and because it was based on our values, it stood the test of time as a complete document.
It was a brilliant reminder of what was important and why we were home educating. And every year I could see that those goals were being fulfilled too.
I also noticed that each year a few of the short term goals (educational aspirations) that I recorded each year in our learning plan didn't happen, but reading through the list reminded me that although obviously not important enough to me for me to prioritize them week by week, they were things I really did want to cover sometime, before the kids became young adults. They hovered in the back of my mind and, little by little, most of those were realised too.
I could have read interpreted those missed short term goals each year as failure: instead I chose to be reminded of what was important to me and why. Sometimes I would ditch objectives as irrelevant or unnecessary, if that had proven to be the case, but mostly I'd add them to next year's list.
One year, when my children were in their teens, I found a list of my personal life goals from 1986 in a box of papers. To my surprise (though I really shouldn't have been surprised given my experience as a home educating parent) 90% of what I'd written on the list had happened. My life was more or less exactly what I'd wanted more than a dozen years before. Sometimes I think it helps us to presence our thoughts and dreams in a concrete way. Perhaps recording our goals is a small but significant commitment to ourselves to work towards them, and that sits quietly in our memory somewhere, guiding our actions?
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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