Educational Goals for the Whole Child

Have you ever just sat and gazed at your child, wondering: Who is this person? What is she feeling? What is he thinking? What moves her? What does he aspire to be?

After researching, dreaming, and planning my children’s education even before they were born, I have found it to be a fundamental shift in my parenting life as I realize that their education isn’t about me.

The boys I am raising and teaching are individual people. Children who have their own thoughts and desires.

These children in our care will become adults with their own lives.

I often slip into thinking of my boys as extensions of myself, believing their skills or behavior are testimonies of my parenting. What do they say about me? What do I expect them to become?

This way of thinking can seep its way into my teaching methods and goals. Do I relate my success as a teacher to what I’ve accomplished? It is so easy for schooling to become a checklist of activities, worksheets, and grade levels accomplished.

Certainly, as a classical educator, the content and skills play a big part in our homeschool, but am I using classical education as the end in itself–or as a tool to help my children realize the full, vivid life I hope for them?

What are the true goals you hope to accomplish through the education you are providing for your children? What lessons will best serve them in their future?

Photo by Heidi Scovel

I would encourage you to spend some time thinking about each child in your care. See him or her as a living, breathing, individual soul. Write down the lessons and skills you feel will serve to enlarge their life. Post your list where it can inspire and direct your efforts.

My list looks something like the following.

Lessons I endeavor to help my children embrace so that they may be healthy, whole human beings, capable of living an abundant life:

  • Trust God.
  • Be curious. About everything.
  • Read. Read. Read.
  • Help the underdog.
  • Entertain thoughts.
  • Set goals.
  • Observe nature.
  • Have compassion.
  • Discuss ideas.
  • Do hard things.
  • Create:  Build. Paint. Plant. Draw. Sing. Bake. Play an instrument.
  • Care for your body.
  • Follow through.
  • Appreciate beauty.
  • Ask questions.
  • Take responsibility.
  • Eat good food.
  • Play hard.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Try new things.
  • Share with others.
  • Manage your personal finances. Well.
  • Solve problems.
  • Plan for the future.
  • Keep house. Well.
  • Prepare for emergencies.
  • Nurture relationships.
  • Travel.
  • Give of yourself.
  • Value truth.
  • Keep your word.
  • Smell the flowers.
  • Pick up after yourself.
  • Use time wisely.
  • Encourage others.
  • Laugh. A lot.
  • Brave storms.
  • Cultivate a spirit of gratitude.
  • Find passion for life.

Photo by Heidi Scovel

Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: “I am with you kid. Let’s go.”
~Maya Angelou

What life lessons are on your list?

About Heidi

Heidi documents Living Lovely at her blog, Mt. Hope Chronicles. There she celebrates (in words and images) her journey as wife, homeschooling mother of three rambunctious boys, photographer, book collector, and lover of the little things.


  1. Never stop growing in their relationship with God. 🙂

    This is an amazing list!
    .-= Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s last blog: Resurrection Eggs =-.

  2. Heidi, I love this list. I love that no where on here is “learn algebra, understand the civil war, yada, yada”. Those goals are fine but really now what do our children need to live a productive and meaningful life? This question (& your list which is similar to mine) helps me keep everything in perspective on those days when I wonder if the kids are learning anything at all. Of course they are! They’re preparing for life.

    • Yes, learning those things are great, but they serve a higher purpose. And living a full, beautiful life is so much more important than simply knowing facts.

  3. Wow! What a list! And I agree with Renee that what ISN’T on there is just as telling as what IS 🙂

    I really love this article and am inspired to try the exercise … I see some quiet time with a notebook and pen in my future …. thank you.
    .-= Kara’s last blog: Let’s Talk: Rhythm and Routines When Life Changes – What Works for You? =-.

  4. I love this post!
    I have been thinking a lot lately about how much my ten year old has grown and how he is so much his own person with his own ideas and dreams. It’s hard for me sometimes to back off and let him be but when I do I can joyfully see what kind of man he is becoming.
    Thank you for this thought-provoking message.

    • I do love watching my boys develop their own personalities and quirks. It helps me remember that they are not me!

  5. This is a great list. I was just sitting at the library with the kids the other day writing down some goals for ourselves for the upcoming Spring/Summer months. Then I started thinking about what I want for my kids for the future. These are the types of things I want my children to strive for and enjoy about life. Great post!
    .-= Rana’s last blog: Our Pace =-.

  6. I haven’t really thought about writing down what I want for my kids. I have had a general idea, but written down I could flesh out the ideas much better. Thanks for the idea!

  7. beautiful list with wonderful reminders — thank you for sharing it.
    .-= Olugbemisola (Mrs. Pilkington)’s last blog: Hello world! =-.

  8. I just love your list!!! When I started homeschooling a couple of years back and someone asked me: “Are you sure you cover the complete curriculum at home?” My heart would literally skip a beat and I would wonder what on earth was I missing off the academic list. I got over that fast!!! I am all about the whole person: Sure I encourage the technical kid to do arty things and the arty kid in their science… but I am more about teaching life-skills, positive attitudes, servant hearts… The facts they can learn anytime, but matters of the heart are our focus.

  9. Oh my gosh – I might just have to steal that list. :o)

  10. I love this. I had such a different plan for my kids then what we ended up doing – when I got to know them even more as learners and realized what they needed/wanted/were interested in was quite different from my plans. Your words are so beautiful.
    .-= Misha’s last blog: Oh My Goodness! =-.

  11. I think I really needed that! My daughter is only 18 months, but as I look forward, I could sometimes use the reminder that her education is about HER. Of course, at this age, there are no lesson plans, but the I know the planner in me is going to need to refer to this a lot over the years. Thanks 🙂

    • As a planner, I know exactly what you are saying. The planning is my favorite part of homeschooling, but we as teacher/parents certainly must adjust to the needs and interests of our children. If that means changing plans and going with something else, that’s what we need to be willing to do.

  12. I’m just beginning my planning after deciding to homeschool next year and I love the idea of this list…the foundation for why we’ve decided to homeschool, how and what we’ll teach. I just wrote a family mission statement a few days ago, but this would be a wonderful addition to that. Your list speaks more to the core of what i want them to know and become. I love the idea of teaching to the whole child, spirit, mind, body…it’s lovely.

  13. So glad you are at Simplemom! I just ordered ‘educating the wholehearted child’, as I’m seeing that I want to have a overall goal that isn’t just academic. I have spiritual, emotional, foundational goals that are not a part of the trivium. I’m hoping to enable them for ‘being all they can be’ with character & virtue to match.
    I see homeschooling as such an opportunity and as my ‘year that would be kindergarten’ is coming to a close, I feel much better prepared to address areas that I wasn’t sure I’d know what to do with.
    A list like this, can be addressed from a positive foothold if the goals are out there in front of me.
    I appreciate your posts so much, your personal website has been a huge encouragment! I have a revolving area in my notebook that includes ‘Leif’s reads’ ha!
    I’m working on my own ‘why we homeschool’ & I thank you for your part in inspiring that!
    .-= Laura’s last blog: Praising Boys Well =-.

  14. What a wonderful list! Writing it down makes it more of a commitment to yourself to put in the effort. Do you show it to your children or keep it private? Either way, very inspiring.
    .-= Hannah’s last blog: Thankful Thursday =-.

    • My boys are still quite young, but I was just thinking about having this list posted where they can see it. I think it would help them realize that ‘school’ is more than just lessons. It is life-preparation, and I want them to have the fullest life possible. As they get older, we’ll have more discussions on the subject. I think it will be enlightening for us all!

  15. Hopefully, though, these goals don’t include getting hit by a train while casually resting on the tracks. (See above image)

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  20. You have one amazing list there! I had to re-read it a few times, thanks for sharing. It is true that each child is so very different to their siblings, I marvel at how they are so similar and yet so different in personality, interests, weaknesses, strong points. And I cherish each thing about them all.

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