Everything, Always, All at Once

When it comes to the work my kids produce, this little voice nudges me to pause and think . . . 

"What is the goal?"

I didn't always ask myself that question.

I remember one particular day in our homeschool journey like it was yesterday. I asked my daughter to read some historical text and practice note taking – a page of key points from what she read, to be exact.

At 12 years old, she did the assignment and did it well. But what did I do when I read her written work?

I didn't pay attention to what she wrote or if she comprehended the text. I focused, instead, on how well she wrote it. I marked spelling errors and grammar errors. And then I went back to her to go over her errors.

The problem was . . . I forgot the goal.

If I wanted to, I could have made spelling and grammar part of the assignment. But then I should have primed my daughter for that objective — note taking, plus accurate spelling, plus proper grammar. I didn't do that. I said, "write a page of key points."

The goal was comprehension and note taking, but I secretly expected more. I had a hidden goal.

As I started to go over the "errors" with her, providing no feedback about the content she had written, I watched my daughter's shoulders slump. She expelled a deep sigh of frustration. She felt disappointed. She felt defeated. She felt tricked.

I felt like our relationship was suffering.

That's the day I started to consciously ask myself "What is the goal?" — an invaluable tool I learned from Rita.

I swore that I would no longer always make spelling and grammar my primary focus for every assignment my kids were doing. Don't get me wrong; I also didn't go to the opposite extreme and never make it part of the goal.

I began to pause and reflect on goal setting at the lesson planning stage.

Sure, spelling and grammar would be the goal when we were working on those discrete skills in our LA lessons. And it would be part of the goal for some cross-curricular writing projects to practice consolidating skills.

But sometimes there are other important and competing goals, and there's a time and a place to pick some over others.

This did not mean I ignored spelling or grammar errors altogether when they weren't part of the defined goal. I always noticed. I just noted the errors in my own planner as a way of keeping track of the skills that required more teaching, review, and practice.

I often chose those noted spelling errors for deeper dives into word study the following week. This along with a focus on the 3 great spelling rules in word sums improved spelling skills across the board in our house (hello, "necessary" "conscious" and "exaggerated", I'm talking to you!). I identified patterns of errors in grammar and found sentences in copywork to help reinforce those concepts.

Over time, I incorporated some writing projects and note taking assignments where proper spelling of key vocabulary as well as accurate grammar and mechanics were part of the goal, and my daughter was aware of and ready for those challenges.

Doing everything, always, all at once was no longer my goal. Progressing a step at a time, and then sometimes several steps together, is a worthy goal, indeed!

So in case you need the reminder . . . pause. Ask yourself, "What's the goal?" And then listen closely, so you can hear the answer.

And if you're ever in doubt, ask the Rooted Crew. I did that a lot!

~ Linda


(Linda is a homeschooling parent who was introduced to Rooted in Language when she first discovered some learning struggles with one of her children. For several years, she immersed herself in RiL's methods and used every RiL product she could in her homeschooling, all before joining the Rooted Crew in 2021.)

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