Principle #7: Individual Needs

Principle #7: Children experience success when goals are based on individual needs and abilities.

Goals set by adults should be developmentally appropriate and respect the whole child. 

My 15-year-old son, Jordan, has Down Syndrome. In order to be successful, his learning goals are based on his abilities. Every child should have goals that are in accordance with their abilities, not just students who have disabilities.

My 13-year-old daughter is gifted and read her first book at the age of 2. Currently she’s working on high school and college-level courses. Homeschooling has given me the flexibility to meet her needs.

Whether a child is gifted or disabled, the important thing is that all children have the opportunity to learn at their own pace and aren’t expected to reach goals they are not ready for.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “rigor” means, “an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty.” It can also mean, “the quality of being unyielding or inflexible.” Rigor has no place in education.

field-trips-2
Field trips offer fun ways to meet goals.

Students should learn to set and meet their own goals.

Children should be involved in the goal-setting process. This gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility. Adults should help children set realistic goals, so they can experience success.

For instance, my oldest son attended high school for 3 years. Towards the end of his junior year, he decided he no longer wished to attend high school. After brainstorming ideas, he decided to homeschool his senior year. Once his junior year was complete, we immediately began homeschooling. We homeschooled from the end of May through December. We focused primarily on learning the content and skills he needed to be successful in college, and he worked a part-time job. He left this week to attend a university in another state. Because he was part of the decision-making process, he became more responsible, motivated, and goal-oriented.

Goals should focus on both learning content and developing skills.

Children learn important skills when they take charge of the learning process. Adults and children should set clear goals not only related to content, but also related to skill development, such as leadership, communication, critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, and creativity.

I knew my son needed to work on some important skills in order to be ready to attend college. We focused heavily on critical-thinking skills, leadership, note-taking, and essay writing.

Copyright © 2017 Sharon J. Miller

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