Many homeschoolers struggle with organization and time management, and those challenges multiply when you have more than one child. Enter SMARTER goals, a proven process that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely, Evaluated, and Reviewed to help you set realistic goals when you’re planning for your homeschool year.
Now let’s dive deep into the topic!
What’s the difference between SMART & SMARTER Goals?
SMART goals were first introduced in 1981 by businessman George T. Doran in a paper he wrote for Management Review. Over the years, the goal-setting process has been used in various settings, including the corporate world and educational institutions. Recently, the acronym has been updated to SMARTER to allow for reflection and adjustments of your goals.
Why should I use SMARTER goals?
- Clarifies your mission
- Breaks down your vision into actionable steps
- Keeps you focused
- Helps you divide up your workload into more manageable segments
- Tracks your progress
- Manage time more effectively
How to Use SMARTER Goals
It’s important to set clear and specific goals. What needs to be accomplished? Who should be involved? Why is it important? Where is it to take place?
Example: I want to plan out our science curriculum this summer so we are prepared to start at the beginning of the school year.
Once you set your goal, you need to monitor your progress to keep you on track and stay motivated. This is the section you would normally check off on a to-do list. How will you measure? When will it happen? How will you know the goal has been accomplished?
Example: I will purchase the curriculum, go through it to see what we’ll actually do, divide up the units into 6-8 week segments, make a list of supplies needed for each unit, and mark my calendar accordingly.
Your goal needs to be challenging yet realistic. Be honest with yourself as to whether or not your goal can actually be achieved. Is your goal attainable? Do you have the resources to do so?
Example: Can we afford the curriculum AND supplies? Will I have time to plan science and all of the other core subjects over the summer?
Sometimes we make goals that don’t align with our mission. Is this goal important for your homeschool? Is it the right time to be doing it? Are you the best person for the job?
Example: Should we be studying physics if we did not finish chemistry? Would it be better to outsource higher-level science to someone more knowledgeable?
A target end date is important to focus your efforts and make sure your goals actually get accomplished. You need to give each step a timeframe to finish, and it’s best to plan backward for this step as it helps you see the big picture.
Example: I will purchase the curriculum in one week, review it in 2 weeks, divide up the units in 3 weeks, and create a supply list in 4 weeks to complete planning by July 31st.
Throughout the process, it’s important to evaluate your goals to make sure they’re still relevant, achievable, and done on time. Too often, folks set goals but never take time to assess their progress.
Example: Every week, I will check in with myself to make sure my timeline is still reasonable to achieve my goal.
Be flexible! Sometimes unforeseeable roadblocks will get in our way. So instead of giving up, readjust your goals to make them achievable.
Example: Between the 4th of July and all the family birthdays in July, I should move my complete date to the end of August and adjust all the other dates accordingly.
Areas of your homeschool where you could use SMARTER goals
- Academic subjects
- Enrichment subjects (music, art, woodworking, etc.)
- Critical thinking
- Social skills
- Life skills
- Money management
- Physical fitness
Tips to help you set goals
- Not all 5 criteria will be completed for every goal, as some things worth achieving cannot be measured.
- Break down your broader goals into smaller parts.
- Don’t stop at SMART, be sure to come back to Evaluate and Review your goals.
- Just focus on one or two so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- Use the 5-Second Rule to keep you moving
- Remind yourself that continual small improvements are better than one giant leap.
- Download my free SMARTER Goals graphic organizer to help guide you!
Drawbacks to using SMARTER goals
Some people believe that this type of goal-setting can stifle creativity and doesn’t allow for spontaneity. In contrast, others feel that there are additional criteria that need to be considered as well.
Don’t get overwhelmed with homeschooling! SMARTER goals are a great way to help you set up realistic, achievable, and relevant goals for you and your kids.
Have you used this type of goal-setting before? Let me know in the comments below!
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w4, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.