From Our House to Yours
Creating a “Beautiful” Notebook
Heart of Dakota’s Creation to Christ is the first year kiddos get to write in those beautiful full-color notebooks! As HOD moms, we eagerly await this rite of passage, and we just can’t wait to begin a special keepsake of the year using those lovely notebooking pages! And they ARE lovely. But, the writing and pictures and entries kiddos make on those lovely pages can be… well, lovely and not-so-lovely. So what should we expect as moms for first-time notebook users?
Expect the Plans to Be Done
#1 – Expect the plans to be done, but give extra ‘grace’ as this is a training year!
So, when the Creation to Christ plans say for kiddos to draw, color, and label 3 timeline pictures; they need to strive to do that. When the plans say a certain number of sentences for their written narration; they need to strive to write that number of sentences. When the plans say for a certain passage to be copied in cursive; they need to strive to do that. However, progress should be evident! In other words, improvement from the start to the finish of the notebook should be visually obvious. The first entries being less ‘lovely’ or ‘complete’ than the last. Remember to give grace, especially at the start of the year, knowing this is a training year for learning how to use the notebooks.
Encourage Writing Within the Boxes
#2 – Encourage writing within the boxes, but understand this may be hard at first!
Learning to write inside the boxes is a skill in itself. Often students just don’t notice the edges of the boxes, and they could just write outside of them not knowing the goal is to try to stay inside them. So, just pointing out the goal is to stay inside the boxes and the frames of the boxes are the stopping places is very helpful! Students’ writing is also often larger, especially if they are on the younger side of the target age range of CTC. Learning to ‘shrink’ their writing is also a skill in itself. It takes time, but little by little encouraging students to develop fine motor skills to write smaller within a defined area is well worth it!
Know When the Goal Is Met
#3 – Know when the goal is met and call it ‘good enough’ then!
Carrie makes clear in the guides the goals for each part of the plans. The Introduction, the Appendix, and the daily plans of each guide help us know when a ‘goal’ is met. So, for example, the goal of the timeline is to keep a chronological record of what has been studied. It is not to have a beautiful artistic drawing – though some kiddos will be able to do that too! The goal of the written narration is to retell the history reading using guided questions. It is not to answer every question perfectly, as if it was a quiz to be mastered – creativity is allowed! So, if the student wrote the designated number of sentences (even if it was the minimum suggested), if the student answered some/most of the questions, and if the answers make quite good sense… the goal is met, and it can be deemed ‘good enough’!
Writing Must Be Legible
#4 – Writing must be legible, but not perfect!
The ‘loveliness’ of students’ writing will vary greatly, and that is alright. What is not alright is if it just cannot be read at all! One sure-fire way to help kiddos understand this is to have them read aloud their written narrations with pencil in hand. As they read aloud to us, they can be encouraged to make changes they need to as they read. Often times, they will catch missing words, misspelled words, missing punctuation, etc. themselves. That only serves to help us have less to edit later with them!
If they cannot read their own writing, they will begin to understand that no one else will be able to read it either… and the real shame here is NOT that their writing is not perfect… it is that their ideas, their responses, their thoughts will not be able to be shared with others – and their ideas are what we LOVE… so writing must be legible, but it need not be perfect.
Editing Is a Skill to Be Learned
#5 – Editing is a skill to be learned one step at a time!
Editing is a process, and slow but steady progress is the goal. The best thing to do is to use the Written Narration Skills: Teacher’s List and the Written Narration Skills: Student’s List in the Appendix of CTC. Step 1 should be taught first; then, move on to Step 2, and so forth.
Focusing on teaching ONE skill at a time in the order it is listed will help you avoid overwhelming your child with too many skills at once, and will give your child a manageable plan for editing writing. This slow and steady process helps students improve one step at a time, and ensures we as moms do not to tip over to expecting perfection by making a student erase and rewrite everything; or by making them write everything twice. Written narrations are not to have a first, second, third draft. Making students do so will only cause them to dislike written narrations… intensely!
So, here you will see my son’s CTC Student Notebook… and this is the halfway mark, as he is in Units 18-19! Progress in many areas is evident, but more progress is expected as we move forward! It is LOVELY in its own way, and I look forward to it becoming more and more so as he becomes better and better at each of these amazing skills, step-by-step!!!
The next time your child works on a notebook entry for his/her Heart of Dakota guide, keep these tips in mind and see what you think!