Podcast Episode 32:
Setting Educational Goals

One of my friends (and a fabulous parent coach) is always talking about the importance of knowing where you’re going.  If you ask for directions to “not here”, no one can help you.  Your destination needs to be clear.  She applies this to parenting, but this week, I’m applying it to education.


When educating our children, we COULD just put one foot in front of another and see where we end up.  But if you’re looking for clear progress in your child’s education, you’re going to want to set some goals.


In this week’s podcast, we go through the steps of how to determine what your goals for your child’s education should be, including some to-do’s and some to-don’ts!

Audio version: www.DecodingLearningDifferences.com


Welcome to Decoding Learning Differences with Kimberlynn Lavelle. This episode is setting educational goals. And this episode is really about trying to figure out where are you going educationally with your child. Some of us kind of just keep doing the next thing that maybe makes sense or looks good or sounds fun. And we don't always have a clear picture of where we're trying to get our child educationally.

So I would encourage you to figure out what your goals are. The first step is to establish the baseline. Where are you right now? Where is your child right now in a particular area? For example, if we're thinking about your child reading, you might think, okay, my child knows. So you got to think through some of the skills,

they know all of the alphabet letters by name. They know all the sounds that go with them. At least the most common sounds that go with them. They know how to read 25 sight words. They know, you know, there's these five books that they can read to me really easily. They can put together. These sounds they can run. They can.

So there's all these different skills actually. Do they have them? If your child's older, you might say, oh, my child is reading at a fifth grade level and they understand everything that they read. They always pass the little quizzes that they take about the whatever they're reading. I feel confident they're reading at a fifth grade level. So, and even within that,

there's a little bit of nuances of like, you can figure out when they make mistakes, what kind of mistakes do they make? Because that would tell you some more information. We're not going to get into all those details right now. It's a little too comprehensive for this podcast episode. But at first I was just, what is your baseline? Where is your child right now?

And be as specific as possible because sometimes someone tells me my child reads at a fifth grade level. And I'm not sure if that means that they can read the words if they can comprehend what's being said or both. So we've got to gotta be clear on that. Okay. Oops. Number two, Determine the long-term goal. So where are you and where are you trying to get to?

So, you know, you know, you're here, your child is here and I want my child to get to here. Long-term I want my child to be a proficient reader that can read at a, you know, can read a college textbook if they want to and understand what it says. Long-term right. I want them to be able to read whatever books they want to read for fun.

I want them to be able to read whatever books they need to be able to read for their job or career, or maybe you're like, I don't really care if my kid can read it. If they can at least understand it by doing like an audio, I want them to be able to comprehend at a high level. Okay. Or my child,

if they can just read at an eighth grade level, almost everything is written in eighth grade level. I'd be so happy if they could get to an eighth grade reading level of reading it and comprehending at an eighth grade level, I'd be so happy Or I I'd be happy. Right. I'd be content. That's good. And if they go beyond that,

great. But my, what I really want to just shoot for right now, long-term eighth grade reading level. So this side, What is your long-term goal there? I'm not telling you what it is. You have to decide that, Okay, Set three. And this one is not really a step three. I throw it in as three because it really should be part of every step,

all along the way, including it. Number two, I want you to have a conversation with your child Constantly in your child's education. They need to be involved in their education. They need to be to get some help on what should my goal be? Like they need to be involved in that conversation. What should their goal be? What would they feel confident with?

What do they want for their life? What do they want to be learning about? What do they want? Right. And not that you have to give them like full reign. Unschoolers typically would give the child kind of full reign, full, full autonomy on whatever they want to learn is what they learn. And if they don't want to learn it,

they don't have to learn it. Right. And maybe you don't want to go that far, but even if you're an unschooler, I would encourage you to have these conversations with your child on what do they want to accomplish in their longterm goal. And it might change as they go. So keep having the conversation, keep going with it. What is your longterm goal in life?

Like what do you think you might want your career to be? What was asked about, of like five-year-olds. And then sometimes we stop asking later and sometimes we keep asking later or we tell them, oh, that you wanted to be a firefighter. Remember? Well, no, that changed. Right? It might change. And we live in a world right now where most of our children will have more than one career in their life.

And that's awesome. They don't have to pick one. They can say, well, I'm super interested in learning how to paint houses. And I also want to be an electrician and I also want to run for public office and be a politician. Awesome. Perfect. Let's do all those things. So have those conversations and think through, okay, for you,

what you're wanting in life, what are the requirements to have that? And then, so what is your, the goal that you want? Right. So you've figured out where they're at. You've had that conversation, your own personal desires of where they might go, but a huge amount of where do they want to go? And the older they get,

the more, what they want needs to take priority. You might not agree with that. But I do. I think that the older they get, the more we need to defer to them. And I think that the younger they are, we need to respect everything that they're saying, but we also know that as they get older, what they're saying might change.

Like they might say, I don't want to learn to read and say, okay, that'll change. But I'm not saying fight it in that moment, but we aren't going to just go with the longterm goal is that they never are able to read. So step four that I have in here, like I said, step three, wasn't really step three because he should keep having those conversations on all the steps.

But number four, reflect and determine the path to get from baseline to long-term goal. So if your child currently knows 25 sight words, you know, basic, very beginning reader, and you want them to be able to read a college textbook. That's a really long path. There's a lot of steps in there, and I'm not saying you need to right now know what every single step is,

but kind of picture through what's going to be needed. It's not just that they read this and they read this. There's a lot of elements, especially in the younger grades or that might, they might need to backfill if they're an older grade, but we're going to be thinking through what are the steps? What's the path that gets them from barely reads a little bit,

or doesn't read at all to can read a college textbook. What's my path kind of have an idea of what is that look like. I same thing for math, whatever, whatever subject you're thinking of or whatever long-term goal you're thinking of. Cause it might even be how well they can paint a house. Right? Well, right now they don't even know how to hold a paint brush long-term they want to be able to paint an entire house.

So what, what kinds of things do they need to be able to get there? Would they have like an apprenticeship and, but I'm going to start with them painting paper and then painting, you know, a board that we have outside and then painting the neighbors. Well, and then you're kind of thinking through what are the steps that we might go through,

the bigger steps to get to that long-term goal. And then we can think about, okay, if that's my long-term goal, this is where I'm at right now. Now I'm not saying if you notice, when I say long-term goal, I'm not saying by the time they're 18, they'll read a college level. I'm saying your, your goal is college level.

Okay. Then you don't stop until that's where you get. Especially if it's your child's goal, you don't stop until that's where you get. But not that you really ever shouldn't be stopping learning, but you know, you might stop really focusing on that goal when you hit that longterm goal and you feel you and your child, mostly your child feels good about where they're at,

but in order to get there, you have to think about, or to think about a short term goal, shorter term goal. You have to recognize what is your child's rate of growth. My Child, you know, is progressing about one grade level every three years. Okay. Then, then you know that you're not going to expect college level by the time they're 18,

you know, it's going to take longer than that, probably. So you're just thinking through what's that rate of growth or a smaller thing, like the sight words. Okay. They know 25 sight words. We started working on it in August, by June, they needed 25 sight words. So in a normal school year, I would expect them to gain about 25 sight words or,

but in the last month they gained 15 of those sight words. So their rate is increasing, right? So that's another thing to pay attention to kids suddenly will start being able to learn a lot faster in some things. So think though about what is their rate of growth so that you can, So you didn't think about what is a reasonable next step along that path.

So you might think, okay, by this time, next year for this next school year, I want them to be able to read 50 sight words and be able to read, you know, any short vowel, single syllable word that has a regular spelling pattern. And I want them to learn about long vowels and read. I'm kind of with practice.

I can come up with things like that. Like you're thinking through what do I want them to be able to do? What is the next reasonable step? And it might just be, especially as they get older, if they've mastered a lot of those basic foundational skills, which takes a lot of time and you have to kind of keep checking, what do they have?

I want to be able to read multisyllabic words. I want them to be able to read any, any prefix or suffix on its own. Just know what it is, be able to read it. I want them to be able to make a more general type of thing is I to be able to read a sixth grade level text and comprehend it by answering this quiz.

And you might even have it set aside, like here's the passage that I'm going to check to see if they can read it. Like I'm not going to give it to him until I think they can read this and understand it. And then I'll know that they did what I wanted for them in this school year. And this is not coming from necessarily.

It could come from state standards if that's what you want to use as your guide. But it, I'm not saying that's what it's coming from. I think what is, what is your goal for your child? Was your child goal for themselves? What are the little steps along the way to get there? What is the next reasonable step for your child to take,

to get there? And you don't have to go a whole school year. You can say this week, I want my child to learn two new sight words and be super good at them and not forget the previous ones or multiplication facts. I want them to know their multiplication facts three times seven, seven times four. I want them to know all their Southerns this week and not forget one through six.

Right? Although I don't really recommend going in order one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, because like 10 is easier than seven. So kind of go, I always get off on tangents a little bit. If you happen to work on multiplication facts, one, two, five, 10, and then it depends on your kid.

Three, four might come next four might come because it's just doubling the twos. They might know the nines because there's a nice trick for several different, nice tricks for the nines. They don't have to go in order, but whichever one you're working on, you have to keep reinforcing and practicing the other stuff so that they don't lose those, those earlier skills that they,

that you feel like they mastered, but they might forget if we aren't careful. Okay. So thinking through all of those steps, what are, where are you at? Where are you trying to get to? What's your child's rate of growth and therefore, what is a reasonable next step? What goals are you trying to set? What goals are you working on setting?

Do you have any questions on how to set goals or how to, how to make that attainable? Email me Kimberlynn at Decoding Learning Differences dot com and I look forward to hearing from you.



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