This is the second part of Setting Yearly Goals for Your Children. Previously, we covered Growing in Wisdom and Stature. If you haven’t read about these yet, please start here: Setting Yearly Goals for Our Children Part 1
Favor with God
Favor with God means that our kids seek to know, love, serve, and obey God. In pursuit of this, we encourage our older children to finish reading their Bibles every year, or at least attempt to do so. Elijah is re-reading his Bible for the seventh time, while Edan is on his second round. Titus has yet to finish but he’s on his way. Tiana is starting to but she still needs a lot of help with big words. Catalina just began reading so she merely pretends to understand what’s going on when she’s holding a Bible. A few days ago, she mouthed out her own rendition of Genesis, combining some parts with the story of Solomon, making it completely inaccurate. She’ll get there eventually.
Another important goal is that our kids develop Christ-like character. Each year comes with it’s unique challenges. This past year, our kids had to grow in kindness towards one another. They tended to use harsh words when they were frustrated and didn’t like to share.
During our weekly Bible studies with our kids, Edric included lessons on how to relate to one another in more loving ways. They memorized Bible passages and shared how they could improve and what they could apply. For the older boys, Edric challenged them to take charge of a study once a month so they got to practice teaching their siblings. His secret agenda was to get them to think through what they needed to work on.
The other night, Titus’s verse was Hebrews 13:16. He asked us all to memorize the passage: “Don’t forget to do good and to share with others. These are the sacrifices that please God.” Afterwards, we talked about how the passage applied to us. Each of our kids admitted that they can be better at treating one another kindly.
We also provide our children with opportunities to serve with us in ministry as much as possible. Since Edric plans out most of our speaking engagements, ministry trips, and activities at the beginning of each year, he can determine when our kids can participate as he plots out our schedule. Most of the talks will fall under the categories of marriage, parenting, or financial stewardship since Edric and I have a shared burden to minister to families. Therefore, we find ways to integrate our children into our seminars so they can experience being a blessing to and serving others.
During our trip to Singapore last August, where we were invited to facilitate a family retreat, we asked our boys to prepare testimonies that we could include in our talks. At the end of the family retreat, our kids also sang a hymn for the audience to close the retreat. Exposure to ministry at young ages allows them to see how they can serve God, too, even while they are young and make a difference for Him.
Recently, we also added sharing the gospel to thirty-three people from now till December as part of our goal for the year since our church challenged us to do so. Our kids got excited about the commitment and have been passing out gospel tracts whenever they can. We still have to practice one-on-one evangelism with them since passing out tracts doesn’t really count!
Favor with Man
Our children also need to grow in their relationships with others. Favor with man is the ability of a person to relate to and reach out to others, to be a positive influence. It’s more than socialization, which is how a child conforms to the social group he is in. Our children have to be trained to look out for the needs of others.
The family context often provides a great training ground to do this since it can be difficult to unconditionally love and forgive one another, as well as get along with siblings. However, relationships with other children outside of the home are also significant. These teach our kids how to accommodate people from different backgrounds and cultures, as well as how to communicate, understand, and influence.
Early this school year, we realized that our sons were looking for more opportunities to interact with friends. It was especially important to our second son, Edan, who enjoys connecting with others. As a natural leader, he benefits from opportunities to exercise this gift. Of all the days in the week, his favorite ones are often the days when he gets to be with his friends. He directs their play, organizes activities, and comes up with fellowship ideas.
As for Elijah, who tends to be very content being alone and on a computer or with a book, we recognized that he had to look outward and invest in developing relationships with others. So we enrolled him in art class and an Algebra 2 tutorial class in order for him to interact more with other high schoolers.
Here are some other ways we get our kids to connect with other children: We created a culture in our couple’s bible study group that encourages kids to come with their parents. During the week, we set aside a day for them to be at the Homeschool Global office so they can hang out and play with their friends in between their art, music, and pe classes. Apart from this, we open up our home so friends can come over in the afternoons. Or, we schedule visits with their cousins and friends.
We used to think that our kids would do fine without too much social interaction apart from family, relatives and a few close friends. However, our perspective changed a year ago when our second son declared, “I’m a social person. I like being with friends.” In response to this, we’ve tried to be more creative about providing opportunities for our kids to spend time with other kids. Although they enjoy their relationships with one another and with us, they also benefit from being with friends of all ages.
The goal isn’t so that they will have many friends, but that they would learn how to reach out to and be a blessing to others, and to apply character traits and relational skills like deference, forgiveness, kindness, cooperation, etc.
In summary, the Luke 2:52 framework of wisdom, stature, favor with God, and men is one way to accomplish yearly homeschooling goals. It’s certainly not the only way since all families are unique. The point is to have a plan and to follow through with it. There may be revisions as the year progress, too, which is perfectly fine. We need to flex according to the needs of our children as they grow, develop, and encounter challenges. May God give us all the insight to craft our yearly goals and align them with his purposes for our kids. And may He supply us with the ability to commit to these! In the meantime, let us “Commit our ways to the Lord, and trust also in Him…” (Psalm 37:5)