During two years of graduate school at a college of education, one of the most important and basic concepts I grasped was that of setting goals. In the classroom, setting goals is especially necessary in lesson planning. Long-term and short-term goals determine pace, structure, and what type of curriculum to use. The same should be true for any homeschool. My goals for each child have evolved as they have grow and reached specific milestones. They have also changed as I gained a better understanding of their God-given gifts.
Each year, I evaluate each child's achievements and weaknesses. Depending on how well they do, I choose to slow down or speed up in different areas, change curricula, do away with an entire subject in favor of another, postpone material which may be too advanced, add more challenge in certain areas, etc.
Picking out appropriate curricula can become overwhelming if one has little support or experience. In these cases, attending a large homeschooling conference can be invaluable, as it provides an opportunity to browse through many curriculum choices. Many companies will have knowledgeable speakers and representatives who will be happy to describe their choices and discuss options. It is also helpful to find an older and experienced homeschooling parent who has similar academic goals as you.
Whether a student is advanced or low-achieving, setting goals is essential. For the advanced student, it is very important to keep material fresh and challenging. Slow and boring is very frustrating for these children. Homeschooling provides an excellent opportunity for children whose interests lie outside the typical schoolroom curriculum structure. A homeschooling parent has a great advantage with first-hand knowledge of their child, which is essential in setting flexible, individualized goals. For the low-achieving student, it is very important to set goals as well. Again, an individualized approach which focuses on that child's learning style, gifts, and interests will create a less frustrating learning environment in which she/he will gain confidence and maturity, enabling them to achieve better.
One thing to remember is the saying: Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Although Webster's dictionary's first definition of the word discipline is simply - punishment. I usually think of the word in terms of its other meaning, training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. I believe this is the meaning intended in that saying. Without discipline there will be no accomplishment. We must remember to train ourselves to be disciplined as well - to be steadfast in pursuing realistic goals in our homeschool, so that our children will be equipped to accomplish their own goals later in life.