Why homeschool? Enjoy Self-Paced Instruction and Learning

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? You can enjoy self-paced instruction and self-paced learning!

In this From Our House to Yours series, we are exploring reasons why you should homeschool. One of the many reasons we enjoy homeschooling is we can take advantage of self-paced instruction, while our children can take advantage of self-paced learning.  Self-paced instruction is any kind of instruction that proceeds based on learner response. There are many different settings where self-paced instruction is employed. It may take place in curriculum, in corporate level training, in technical tutorials, and in a variety of other settings. With self-paced learning, your student can make his own decisions and instead of working within a certain amount of time, he can work with the time that is needed for him to complete his best work.

How I would have loved self-paced instruction and self-paced learning, especially in high school!

I would have loved self-paced instruction and self-paced learning in high school! Let me explain. I used to love high school math class. It was just something I enjoyed and understood well. However, when I finished early, I felt like I was just killing time until the bell rang. It would have been so nice if I could have just moved on to the next math concept! Or, maybe better still, just moved onto my next subject – a natural reward for finishing early.

I also used to love creative writing class. In contrast though, I never felt I had enough time. I would just be on to a new and exciting idea, in my own happy world of choosing just the right words, and then the dreaded bell would ring.

Chemistry posed yet another pacing problem. I needed more time – period. With more time, I could have possibly understood the concepts better, or at least not been in such a rush to finish by the bell that I lit the wooden table on fire with my bunsen burner! How about you? When you think back to your own education, how could have self-paced instruction or self-paced learning positively impacted you and your education?

Ways Heart of Dakota Encourages Self-Paced Instruction

With Heart of Dakota, each guide is complete and has an easy boxed format of plans. This empowers me to spread out the different boxes as time allows throughout my day. Furthermore, I can do the boxes in any order. For example, I never want to rush through Bible Study or devotionals when homeschooling. So, I have always chosen to do Bible first thing in the morning, at a leisurely pace, so I can allow ample time for reading and discussion. Additionally, beginning with Creation to Christ and continuing through U.S. History II high school, plans are just 4 days a week. They are not connected to any seasons, holidays, months, or days of the week. So, I have always chosen to homeschool 5 days a week in the winter and take 2 weeks off at Christmas. These are efficient practical ways I take advantage of pacing my instruction with Heart of Dakota.

Ways Heart of Dakota Encourages Self-Paced Learning

With Heart of Dakota, each guide has a range of ages with multiple levels of language arts and math.  This allows me to place my children in the guide that fits them best, so not all my children at age 10, for example, were doing the same guide. For one of my sons who was a more advanced reader and writer, I placed him in Resurrection to Reformation at 10 years old. I placed another son in Creation to Christ at 10 years old because that fit him best. Likewise, subjects like reading, spelling/dictation, math, and grammar have plans for multiple levels in each guide.  Two of my sons did Drawn into the Heart of Reading Student Book Level 4/5 their 6th grade year with 5/6 Boy Interest Books. One of my sons did Drawn into the Heart of Reading Student Book Level 6/7/8 his sixth grade year with 6/7 Level books. Similarly, they were all in different places in their dictation passages, math levels, and grammar levels.

It is a blessing to enjoy self-paced instruction and self-paced learning now by homeschooling my own children!

Each one of our children has natural God-given abilities and interests. In homeschooling, we can recognize and celebrate that! It is such a blessing to enjoy self-paced instruction and self-paced learning.  With self-paced instruction and self-paced learning, each individual can make the best use of his or her time in order to meet his or her learning objectives.  Teachers of large groups in typical schools must aim the pacing of instruction at the middle third of the students, which means it is not uncommon for a large portion of the group to be either under challenged or over challenged. Likewise, there are just too many students and too few teachers to offer self-paced learning.  Homeschooling with Heart of Dakota gives you the opportunity to embrace both of these efficient and inspiring ways of teaching and learning!  This is just one more reason why you should homeschool!

In Christ,



Is your child new to independence in school?

Teaching Tip: 

Is your child new to independence in school?

Do you have a child doing Preparing Hearts or Creation to Christ on up who is new to “independence” in school? If so, here is a helpful tip for you! Have your child read the instructions in any “I” box out loud to you prior to beginning the box.

Why is it helpful to have students read aloud the directions in the “independent” boxes of plans?

When kiddos read aloud the directions first, they often have a better idea of what is coming. This makes them less likely to miss steps when performing the “I” box. It can take extra time to have the child read aloud the box first. But, it will save you time later, because the child will know more clearly what to do. If needed, you can also discuss the directions right after the child has read them aloud.

When can you phase out this “reading aloud” step?

The reading aloud step can be phased out as the child gains confidence in reading and following written directions. It helps “train” the child to read the directions through before beginning the box. Try this tip and see if it helps your child! This extra step has really helped our boys!


Placement for Dyslexic 10 1/2 Year Old Who Has Only Done Bible and 3 R’s

Pondering Placement

Question: Where should I place my dyslexic 10 1/2 year old, considering we’ve only done Bible and the 3 R’s?

I’m pondering placement for my son. I have a 10 ¬Ĺ year old son who is severely dyslexic. I’m trying to decide what guide to place him in. I’m thinking Bigger Hearts for His Glory. Before this we only really have done the Bible and the 3Rs because it was such a struggle. But now with therapy, I think he’s ready for something more. I think he is ready for spelling and beginning level 1 or maybe level 2 readers. He is also enjoying my reading aloud Magic Treehouse books now. So, I am thinking Bigger Hearts for His Glory¬†would be good.¬†Or, do you have another suggestion? Thank you!

Reply: I’d lean toward doing Bigger Hearts to give a solid introduction to history and science.

One thing you will discover with Heart of Dakota is that there is not a one-size fits all¬†placement¬†for kiddos. We spend a lot of time trying to learn more about your specific child and situation. Our hope is to help you find the best¬†placement¬†for your family. In thinking through what you’ve shared thus far, and weighing the fact that your son hasn’t had a chance yet to do more than Bible and the 3R’s due to his struggles, I would lean toward doing Bigger Hearts with your son. I think this placement will give him a good solid introduction to American History. I also like that it would give him a good overall exposure to science.

Bigger Hearts includes many skills, but as you will read aloud the history and science, he will have another year to grow in his own reading.

I think Bigger will actually be quite challenging in many ways. It is a guide we have woven many skills woven into. However, you would still be reading aloud the science and the history to your son in Bigger. This will give him another year to continue making gains as a reader. I like that he will have more time to hone these skills, before he must tackle some of those subjects himself when he gets to Preparing Hearts the following year.

Bigger Hearts also includes writing practice, spelling lists, and reading plans for an emerging reader.

There is also a lot of writing practice in Bigger, including copywork which will be good for your son. I think the spelling lists in Bigger are another needed area where your son can utilize what is scheduled within Bigger before moving into the dictation passages that are found within Preparing Hearts.¬†¬†It also sounds like your son would be well placed in the Emerging Reader’s Set.¬†I have scheduled this set of books daily in the Appendix of Bigger.

If your son did Preparing, he would miss the introduction of needed skills to help him successfully navigate the increased independence in Preparing.

If you jumped ahead to Preparing right now, I think your son would miss out on the needed spelling lists and Emerging Reader schedule that he will need. I also think it would be sad for him to miss many of the needed skills that are introduced and honed in Bigger that help a child successfully navigate into a bit more independence in Preparing. In weighing that you are currently reading aloud and enjoying the¬†Magic Treehouse books, I think a¬†placement¬†in Bigger fits well in expanding upon that listening level to challenge him even more without losing the enjoyment. It is true that not all kiddos need to go through Bigger first. But, we do usually see that for most kiddos, it is an added help. Especially with your son’s past struggles in mind, we want to give him every chance to succeed. I hope you enjoy your year with Heart of Dakota.


5 1/2 Year Old Unable to Answer Storytime Questions for Reddy Fox

Dear Carrie

My 5 1/2 year old doesn’t seem to be able to answer the¬†Storytime questions for Reddy Fox. What should I do?

Dear Carrie,

I am doing¬†Little Hearts for His Glory with my 5 1/2 year old daughter. Everything is going well except for Storytime. She is wiggly while I read Reddy Fox. She doesn’t seem to be comprehending any of it. She cannot answer any of the questions. Even if I read a sentence 3 times and ask a simple question about that sentence, she cannot answer it. She LOVES it when I read her storybooks with colorful pictures. Maybe I should just start letting her pick out easier books?¬† Then I could just come up with questions for her? Is there a way I could find out her level of comprehension?

I can keep reading Reddy Fox to her, but I don’t think she is getting anything from it. Motor skill wise – she has no problems. Reading wise she is flying through phonics and sounding out words and reading short sentences. She just doesn’t seem to be able to answer the Storytime questions for Reddy Fox. So, what should I do? Thanks for any suggestions!


“Ms. Please Help My 5 1/2 Learn to Answer Storytime Questions for Reddy Fox”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My 5 1/2 Learn to Answer Storytime Questions for Reddy Fox,”

I’m so glad you are getting a chance to use and enjoy LHFHG!¬† We have fond memories of using LHFHG with our own four sons.¬† In answer to your question, I would encourage you to continue reading Reddy Fox and doing the follow-up activities. It is no surprise that your little honey is struggling with it since she is used to colorful picture books instead.

The Storytime books were chosen to transition your child to listening to longer chapter books.

The books within the Storytime box of LHFHG are not meant to be picture books but were instead chosen to transition your child to listening to longer chapter book style readings. This will be a needed skill as your child heads into Beyond Little Hearts. Listening to chapter book style readings is a skill that takes time to learn, so we would not expect your daughter to do well with this skill at first. However, if you downshift to reading colorful picture books instead, it will be a skill that your daughter will not acquire this year at all.

Storytime readings and follow-ups are meant to be short and reading them without stopping helps the child retain the flow of the story.

With this in mind, I would encourage you to continue doing the Storytime plans as written for 9 weeks. The Storytime readings are meant to be short and the follow-up are meant to be short too. As you read, do not stop to reread or to explain the readings. Instead just read the scheduled pages straight through. This is because stopping and rereading makes a child lose the flow of the story. It also decreases the attention the child gives to a single reading. The habit of attention is another habit we are working to cultivate through Storytime.

Feel free to jump in and cheerfully help with the follow-ups as needed.

After the readings, if your daughter is unable to do the follow-ups, jump in and help her as needed, making sure to keep the follow-ups short and sweet too! Over the next 9 weeks, as long as you remain positive and cheerful about this area, I think you will be truly surprised at the progress your child makes.

I would find it surprising if she were flying through everything easily.

If she were flying through everything in LHFHG easily, it would be surprising! Instead, we have skills she needs to gain throughout this guide and gaining skills takes time, practice, and patience! I’d love to have you share an update in 9 weeks to see how she’s doing if you get a chance!


Update 9 Weeks Later:

I wanted to give an update on my daughter’s progress with her comprehension of the Burgess books. We’ve now finished Reddy Fox, The Adventures of Peter Cottontail, and are within a few days of completing The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse. She enjoys Storytime very much, listens attentively and is able to answer most questions at the end of the reading. I am thrilled with her progress and so thankful that we continued as directed! Thanks for all the support! WE LOVE HOD!!!!¬†:D¬†:)¬†:)¬†:)¬†I can honestly say I don’t think we would be able to homeschool without it. I sincerely thank you again!


“Ms. Loving My 5 1/2 Year Old’s Storytime Answers Now”