Wanting to be further along… Do extra? Or just keep moving forward?

Heart of Dakota - Dear Carrie

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Dear Carrie

I’m wanting to be further along! Should I just do extra each day? Or, should I be okay with where they are and just keep moving forward?

I want my 10 yo to be further in Bigger. My daughter should be further along in English, math, and WWTB in CTC. So, I’m always “catching them up.” I just wasn’t diligent at first, so now I try to do extra each day. I try to do two grammar lessons. If math is shorter, we do another lesson. Today, I did three WWTB lessons, several dictation passages, etc. She can handle the work to an extent, but it takes more time than I realize. Some days I don’t even get to a younger one. Yesterday, I just stuck to the guides and kept moving. I also worked with the CTC child first and then the others. I finally figured out what the other two could do independently while I did CTC. It went so much better! Should I be okay with where they are and just keep moving forward?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Wanting to Be Further Along,”

Dear “Ms. Wanting to Be Further Along,”

This is such an interesting question, as it is something that I have learned the hard way myself as we have schooled through the years. Since that time of dawning, I have become a get-it-done, check the box type of teacher. While I do take time to stop and discuss things that are scheduled as discussions in the Heart of Dakota guide, I avoid doubling up on things or pushing on further than planned for the day. I have discovered in the long haul that schooling in this manner means that none of my littles get neglected (which wasn’t the case before when I was so busy pushing my olders or middlers).

It is freeing to do just what is planned in the guide each day!

It is also very freeing to only do what is planned in the guide each day. This way, both you and your students know exactly what to expect. It is like reaching your destination and feeling successful each day that you have reached it! Plus, my boys do not love to have me add things on when they happen to finish early. They feel that free time should be their reward for finishing early, rather than more work! Go figure!

Steadily doing each day’s plans will move you further along and cover a lot of ground through the years.

Honestly, in the long haul just steadily doing what is scheduled each day means that you will move further along and cover a lot of ground through the years. Slow and steady truly does win the race, rather than a sporadic and jumpy pace that omits or adds along the way. Plus, steady progress through the plans leads to a steady rise in skills and an even progression toward higher levels of difficulty which often cannot be rushed. So, before you resort to cramming it in, I want to encourage you to just allow yourself to progress further along at the guide’s pace. For students who are well-placed in their guide the journey will be much more joyful this way!

Blessings,
Carrie

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12 thoughts on “Wanting to be further along… Do extra? Or just keep moving forward?”

  1. Thank you! I also struggle with this. As a working mama I lose 2 half days a week with my kiddos and feel the need to always push to stay on track.

    1. Slow and steady does win the race! Carrie and I both work as we homeschool as well, so we totally understand the time crunch you are feeling. Homeschooling is definitely more of a marathon, so steady progress forward is always better than doubling up and cramming. Keep on pressing on, Jessy, and we will too!

  2. We have taken almost 18 months to finish Resurrection to Reformation. The student (12yo boy) is super smart but unmotivated to work with out being prodded along. I have 3 other younger children (3yo, 5yo, 8yo). I have tried to convey to him that his education is important and he needs to do his work without me holding his hand for everything. Its to the point now where I don’t trust that he has actually done his work. For instance when he is suppose to locate items on a map or listen to a CD. I keep telling myself to breath and relax that education is an adventure not a race. I feel like he is 5th grade-ish level but his peers are in 7th grade. Stressed Out Mom

    1. First, you need to feel so good about your son completing RTR! That is something to celebrate, so hats off to both you, April, and to your son! Second, boys seem to want to get school done more quickly and get to their independent time. This can eventually be fuel to work more efficiently. However, I will say for each of our sons (and for many people I visit with on the phone), the age of about 12 years old is a tough one. I think there is much going on with growth, with hormones, and with emotions. In fact, I did a post on it recently I’ll link below…

      https://www.heartofdakota.com/blog/2019/12/13/when-will-it-all-come-together-for-my-11-year-old/

      My son has his 13th birthday this next month, so the progress I’ve seen is recent! He did much better with Revival to Revolution (in terms of time management, task completion, and motivation) than he did with Resurrection to Reformation. Your son, given time, will grow and mature into more successful independence under your watchful eye. I found it important to check in more often during this age. I also found it important to have a quick system for consistently checking his work and doing my teaching parts. I think the ways I mention of keeping quick tabs on my 12-year-old’s work really could help your son just like it helped mine…

      https://www.heartofdakota.com/blog/2020/01/03/checking-middle-school-work-in-a-quick-and-efficient-way/

      Carrie recently answered some questions about structuring the day with multiple children in mind that I’ll link below…

      https://www.heartofdakota.com/blog/2019/10/01/how-can-i-best-structure-our-homeschooling-day-with-my-large-family/

      Finally, I think the last part of this post may be helpful. It talks about what to do with a child displaying a disagreeable attitude…

      https://www.heartofdakota.com/blog/2019/11/15/helping-creative-more-easily-distracted-children-maintain-focus/

      Hope something here helps – God bless!

      In Christ,
      Julie

    2. I am in the same boat! I pulled my 5th grader out of public this year. He is 11, almost 12, yet he was a year behind because I had him repeat kindergarten. I quickly realized when I pulled him out he’s more at a fourth grade level with most things so it’s almost like he’s two years behind. His teachers obviously didn’t care too much about the quality of his work because it’s a struggle daily to get anything decent out of him. I get the bare minimum and I don’t trust him yet to work on anything independently unless I’m right there looking over his shoulder from time to time. I also have him read is independent readers aloud to me as I know he wasn’t doing the reading. It works for now, but when my girls are both school age I won’t be able to commit as much time to him as I do now. I am concerned as to how I’m going to juggle it all when the time comes.

      1. There is definitely a transition time when pulling kiddos out of public school. Often times, less and less time is spent on teaching and monitoring reading and writing progress on a more personal basis in public school – even just due to large class sizes. Much work is now completed on tablets, which means less writing and quick skimming/scrolling rather than careful reading for substance. So, first, just feel good about putting a stop to your son falling through the cracks by choosing to homeschool him!!! That is progress already! He will be in a better place with this transition next year, as he grows accustomed to the increased reading, writing, and accountability within homeschooling.

        Second, the age of about 12 years old is a tough one. I think there is much going on with growth, with hormones, and with emotions. I’ll link my post about this below…

        https://www.heartofdakota.com/blog/2019/12/13/when-will-it-all-come-together-for-my-11-year-old/

        My son is doing so much better (in terms of time management, task completion, and motivation) now that he is nearly 13 years old. Your son, given time, will grow and mature into more successful independence under your watchful eye. I found it important to check in more often during this age. I also found it important to have a quick system for consistently checking his work and doing my teaching parts. I think the ways I mention of keeping quick tabs on my 12-year-old’s work really could help your son just like it helped mine…

        https://www.heartofdakota.com/blog/2020/01/03/checking-middle-school-work-in-a-quick-and-efficient-way/

        As far as independent reading, more than likely your son may have skipped this when assigned to do so in public school. Independently reading and really having to think about what the reading means consistently might be a new skill to learn. HOD intends for children to do their independent reading silently. When reading aloud, a child has to concentrate on how he sounds, his pacing, his tone, etc., and often times the meaning is lost. The accountability for the independent reading is the follow-up plans in the guide, so he can show what he’s learned through that instead. Carrie has this great post on reading and the transition from read alouds to reading independently that I’ll share here…

        https://www.heartofdakota.com/blog/2020/01/30/what-is-one-key-of-a-charlotte-mason-education/

        I just want to encourage you that you are going to see some good progress going forward as your son transitions to homeschooling and to reading/writing more each day! Press on – it is sooooo worth it!!!

        In Christ,
        Julie

  3. I have two high school boys, one a senior and one a Sophomore, who are both about 8 weeks behind and because of graduation and summer vacations, missions trips and joining the Navy they won’t be able to finish the whole curriculum. They work hard long hours everyday and just can’t finish a full day most days. Is it okay they won’t finish? What do you suggest?

    1. Congrats on the progress your high school sons have made! By using Heart of Dakota for high school, they are completing college preparatory level work, which is to be commended! We do like for students to complete all of their Heart of Dakota high school coursework, but we realize that sometimes due to extenuating circumstances this is not possible.

      When it comes to earning credits, there are two ways to award high school credit. There is the traditional method of assigning credit based on time spent on coursework. Typically a Carnegie unit is an average of 5 class periods a week with 50 minutes in each class period. (We have 4 work periods of 60+ min. each week for 1 credit, as opposed to 5 periods of 50 min. each as in the public high school classroom.)

      There is also the other option for awarding credit based on quality of work completed, rather than just the time spent. This is often used in homeschool settings, where students may work at faster or slower rates and aren’t having to sit in a class for a certain amount of time. This works well with homeschool settings, as the goal is knowledge of the subject taught, not just to spend a certain amount of time on the subject.

      Ultimately, you as the homeschool teacher decide how to award credits and assign grades. You know how long and how hard and to what ability level your high school kiddos have worked. You know how ready you feel they are for the next year of their life, whether that is college or another year of high school.

      Personally, I’d have a sophomore finish the guide, or at least all but the last 4 weeks. I’d probably have him read the remaining 4 weeks of resources over the summer. For the senior, I’d require at least 80% of the guide to be completed (public/private schools usually count 75-80% of coursework as complete). I’d also make my senior complete the total work for the credit(s) I felt he specifically needed to be ready for the next step in his life (i.e. based on whether moving on to a 4-year college, the military, a trade school, full-time work with job specific training, etc.). But, these are personal preferences! I hope something here helps as you ponder what you’d like to do moving forward!

      In Christ,
      Julie

  4. I just wanted to say I love your blog. It’s really inspiring and helpful to have this blog to refer to. It’s such a blessing to me. I have been one to try to speed up or skip ahead myself with my kids when I feel they are behind or we have missed days that we should have been doing school work. In the end, though it just stresses myself and my kids out though and it doesn’t really help. The things skipped tend to be the fun activities too so ultimately we have less enjoyment then we probably would have if we had just continued to compete one day at a time. It’s good to hear the reassurance that steady progress through each day as written is the way to go to see good progress over time.
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you for your response, Erin! We as a family truly pour all of our hearts into this blog, and it is so good to hear you are finding inspiration here! That is our prayer for this blog, as homeschool moms deserve to be upheld and encouraged. Just like you, we have found the same to be true in our own homeschooling – speeding up just makes the days go long and feel too full, and skipping often means we are not doing the fun activities. Steady progress is so much more beneficial and enjoyable! We all hope you have a good rest of your homeschooling week, Erin, and thanks for your positive presence on our blog!

      In Christ,
      Julie

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