3 Ways to Help Your Children Realize Their Dreams (and You, Too!)

by ChristinaPilkington on September 19, 2012 · 3 comments

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What is the difference between someone who has lots of dreams and goals but hardly ever fulfills them and someone who does? Are their some definite characteristics that distinguish the two from each other?

I think there are.

I’ve taken a long and hard look at my own life. I’ve had a lot of dreams and goals for myself in the almost 37 years I’ve been alive. I’ve realized some of those dreams, but, I’m sad to say, many of my strongest dreams, especially dreams that I’ve even had for several decades, have still gone unfulfilled.

In comparing both the goals that I have reached with the dreams that are still unfulfilled, I’ve discovered three key things made all the difference between completing a goal and just letting it sit there collecting dust.

Have a Small Set of Dreams/Goals That You Focus on at one Time

When I was 16, I was on a Bible quiz team. By the end of the year, we needed to have memorized word for word 13 chapters from a book of the Bible – that’s about 9,200 words. That took a lot of dedication and time.

Our team was the best in the United States. We frequently took home first place trophies and traveled to California, Florida and Pennsylvania for competitions. At these competitions, there were other categories of competition, too- singing, playing an instrument, sports.

There was another girl on our team who was competing in a variety of categories. I thought that I needed to do that, too.

When I told my quiz coach I wanted to compete in a few more categories, he gave me an invaluable piece of advice.

“Chris, you could compete in other categories, but look at how (this other girl) does. She’s always mediocre. She never shines in anything because she spreads herself too thin. If you want to be the very best, you need to dedicate your time and talents into one or maybe two things at the most.”

This is so hard for me because I am interested in a lot of things. But I know from the past that when I flit around from thing to thing or try to work on too many dreams or goals at one time, I never finish anything.

It’s not going to work for us to do “school” every day, because one of the problems with school is that it tries to fit too many topics and subjects into one day. When you flit around like that instead of focusing on just a few things at a time, you don’t become a master of anything.

But I can see how it’s’ going to be important for both me and the kids to define maybe three things at the very most that they want to concentrate on and make those things an almost daily priority.

Decide What Passions and Dreams Will Be Your Highest Priority

All interest-led learning families look different because each family has its own special make-up. Some families will be more into music than others. Some will love art. Others will be heavily into politics.

Look at what you and your children love to do the most. You might have a lot of interests like I do. If I had all the time in the world I’d work on photography, learning a new language, making new recipes, writing, reading, researching and more every single day.

I can’t do that.  When I have too many goals I want to reach, I don’t reach any of them. So I’ve narrowed down the two areas that are most important to me: writing, and planning travel and new places to go with my family.

I’m planning on sitting down with the kids and asking them the two or three things they want to make sure they get to do every single day. That’s not to say we won’t do other things as well. But we’ll make sure we’ll work on our highest priority dreams every single day as much as possible.

Carve Out Dedicated Time Every Day to Devote to Those Dreams

I’ve been reading a great book by Lori Pickert called Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners. Here’s a wonderful quote from the book about the importance of carving out dedicated time each day to work on your dreams (or in this case projects):

“But setting aside time for project work becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy- it attracts the work you value. You are communicating (without words), ‘This work is so important to us that we dedicate time and attention to it.’ You are sending the message that ‘This is what we care about-this is what we’re willing to work for.’

“Devoting that time allows you and your child to come together and fill it with something meaningful. You don’t’ have to think about it, remember it, or squeeze it in – because it’s so valued, it’s a regular part of your routine. If project work is left simply happen when it happens, it may not happen at all.”

The kids and I have had a fabulous time learning together. We love to read together, watch DVDs, do activities, games and science experiments, and go to lots of interesting places. We’re always learning and growing.

But I can now see the importance of working with the kids to define a very small handful of things that we consistently dedicate our time to every single day – things that are personally meaningful and important to the kids.

I’d like us to dedicate at least an hour a day for this right now. As the kids get older, that time might increase.  I don’t think we’ll ever have project time at the exact same time every single day, I need more flexibility than that.

But each night, I’m planning on blocking out an hour sometime the next day as project time, or time the kids know that they will have 100% of my attention to specifically work on a project or goal of their choice.

And I’m promising to work on my writing at least one hour every single day.

As we work on this, I’ll keep you updated on our progress and share any new insights or resources that come up along the way.

Photo Credit: katerha

What are the two highest priority dreams or goals that your children have right now? What can you do to help them spend dedicated time to reach those dreams?

 

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  • http://thegettys.blogspot.com Susan

    Great post Chris! I also read Project-Based Homeschooling and really enjoyed it, as well as gained inspiration to find ways to be more focused. We are also interested in LOTS of things…we can definitely become very scattered! I’ve been working on narrowing things down and reining things in to focus on what is most important. It’s hard for me because there are so many things to learn about and to do!

    • christinapilkington

      I read your post on that last week (haven’t been able to comment yet) and it turned out the same day I started reading you post was the same day I started reading that book! My biggest problem with this is that when I concentrate on just two or three things than I feel like I’m letting some dreams slide. But I guess I should be thinking that by concentrating all my efforts on a few things, I’ll reach them faster and then have time after that to reach other dreams. And I’ve been finding it true more and more that one of the most important skills my kids will need to have in the future is to be able to plan, start and finish projects. If they can do that, they can do just about anything.

      • http://thegettys.blogspot.com Susan

        I know just what you mean…it really is so hard for me to let go of things that are interesting and focus on fewer things. I can see where it would be helpful, though. I just have to trust that we’ll get back to the things that we let go, if those things are truly important.
        I also agree with how important it is for kids to be able to plan and follow through. We are sincerely struggling with this, in my opinion…which is why I am extra motivated to try focusing on fewer projects. I am thinking that with greater focus, and emphasis on specific projects, that I can help the girls better learn to follow through.

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