Setting goals

Yesterday at about 11pm Ben walked out of his room and said, “I achieved my goal today.”   “Really?” I said.  “Yep.  I didn’t watch any YouTube videos all day.”

This may not seem like much, but for weeks and weeks Ben has been somewhat obsessed with Lego Star Wars videos, Mario Kart videos and videos on a couple of YouTube channels to which he subscribes.  We’re talking hours of videos, almost every day.   I never felt like it was a problem but apparently he did, so he cut himself off without any prompting from me or Joshua.

Rather than watch videos he spent yesterday whittling with his pocket knife, reading and working on a new Lego project.  The computer went untouched, as it did again today.   Today I was told that his goal is to build a new Lego tower so that when completed it is taller than he is.   He’s been working on it all evening.

These goals may not seem like much but from my viewpoint they are important, because goal setting is not something either of my kids have ever been ‘taught’.   Instead, their goals come from within – from their desire to improve or change or learn – and I often don’t know about them until they’ve been achieved.  Of course sometimes they don’t achieve their goal, and then I hear about that too, and what adjustments will be made on the next attempt.

When people voice concerns that unschooled children will run amok, will have no goals and won’t challenge themselves, all it means is that they have spent no time around unschooled kids.   With few exceptions these kids take it upon themselves to set goals – small at first and then ever larger – toward which they work with sometimes dogged intensity.

All we have to do is step back, allow, encourage and support.  How hard can that possibly be?


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