Summer is good time to work on keyboarding

Teaching Tip

Summer is good time to work on keyboarding skills.

Summer is a wonderful time to work on skills that will help your child during the school year. One skill that we’ve worked on with our older kiddos during the summer is keyboarding.

How much time is needed to see progress?

It is amazing how much progress can be made with just 10-15 min. of steady practice each day. We set a timer and have our older boys practice typing Monday-Friday during the summer months.

What can you use to teach keyboarding?

We happen to use and enjoy Typing Instructor, but you can use any program that works well for your family. Just be sure that your kiddos are placing their fingers in the correct positions on the keyboard.

What are the benefits?

Strong keyboarding skills are a huge help during the school year as students type their essays and writing projects! Teach it this summer and reap the rewards when school rolls around again.

Blessings,
Carrie

Spelling Troubles and How to Fix Them

Dear Carrie – Spelling Troubles

How can I fix my 7 year-old daughter’s spelling troubles?

My 7 year-old has spelling troubles! She did list one and is doing spelling list two now. She’s had trouble with spelling and learning to read. Recently, her reading has improved dramatically. She is now 2/3 of the way through the Emerging Reader’s Set. However, her spelling is only slightly improved. In Beyond, on the first spelling day, she’d study the card, turn it over, and often spell it wrong. Sometimes she didn’t even notice it was wrong when she checked it. Twice so far in Bigger she’s had all the words right by the end of the unit. This is a major improvement! With the spelling lists followed by dictation, will it get better? I’m a believer in dictation which is working fabulously for my oldest. I own All About Spelling level 1, but honestly, it was a miserable experience with my older daughter. So, not interested in that.

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Daughter with Spelling Troubles”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Daughter with Spelling Troubles,”

Spelling in the early years is often quite tied to a child’s reading. This is because kiddos at the early stages of spelling are often sounding their spelling words out as they write them. So, in the early years, as your child’s reading progresses, the spelling will lag a bit behind that reading progress in coming along too. This is pretty much what you’re seeing now. As you see your child’s reading is coming along, you see her spelling is now progressing a bit more too. That is not to say that in the long haul spelling and reading progress are always linked. This is not necessarily true, as the spelling words get longer and harder. However, you are already seeing some improvement with your daughter’s spelling troubles, and it is certainly in part linked to her recent improvement in reading.

Children to whom spelling does not come naturally need regular practice in properly capturing the correct mental image of a word.

Another thing to keep in mind is that for kiddos to whom spelling does not come naturally more drill is not really what they need. Regular practice in capturing the correct mental image of a word is the skill that truly needs to be developed in order for the mind to know whether a word that has been written is written correctly. This is the skill that is being developed in Beyond and Bigger. So, one of the best things you can do to help your daughter with her spelling troubles is to work through the daily spelling lessons in Bigger.

Immediately erasing any incorrectly spelled word during spelling lessons will help lessen your daughter’s spelling troubles in an immediate, tangible way.

Since properly capturing the correct mental image of a word is so important, we keep the other writing the child is doing during that season of learning to copywork or copying from a correctly written model. This is because we don’t want the mind capturing the incorrect image (and having a child inventively spell many words results in the incorrect spelling beginning to “look right” in the mind’s eye.) So, to prevent this same thing from happening during spelling lessons be sure to immediately erase any incorrectly spelled word and have the child copy the correct spelling over top of the erased word instead. This will help lessen your daughter’s spelling troubles in an immediate, tangible way.

Be vigilant as you do the spelling lessons, and that vigilance will begin to lessen your daughter’s spelling troubles.

Think of spelling time as mental training rather than seeking memorization of specific words. In that way, every error is an opportunity to swoop in and retrain the mind. Be vigilant as you do the spelling lessons. As soon as an incorrect letter is written in the spelling of a word, erase it away and redirect to the correct image (showing the index card with the correct spelling upon it). Be sure to use a dark colored marker on a white index card too when writing the spelling words (as directed in the guide), which helps the mind capture the image of the word even more clearly. Over time you will see continued progress and improvement within your daughter’s spelling troubles.

Dictation, as you have seen with your older daughter, will help your daughter gradually further improve her spelling skills.

Dictation builds on the foundation of mental picturing that is practiced in the spelling lists in Beyond and Bigger. It is where kiddos actually start to pay more attention to spelling in the context of sentences. This is the moment where they realize spelling is about writing a string of words correctly. It is mental imaging taken to the next level. This is often where kiddos start doing a bit better in spelling, if they had a hard time in the word lists that they did before beginning dictation. This is because in dictation they are putting to use the mental imaging and beginning proofreading and auditory skills they practiced in Beyond and Bigger and are applying them.

Students eventually transfer dictation skills to proofreading and correcting their work to be sure the right mental image remains.

Through studied dictation kiddos learn to transfer the skills of capturing a correct mental image of a string of words, auditorily hearing the sentence and repeating it back correctly, writing the words in the correct sequence (including all punctuation and capitalization), and proofreading and correcting their work to make sure the right mental image remains (rather than the wrong one). Over time, these skills transfer to kiddos’ proofreading their own written work in other subjects. You can see this is all a part of spelling, but it is a process that takes years to internalize. By practicing and honing these skills over time, students spelling troubles begin to diminish.

I encourage you to keep moving forward, patiently guiding and diligently correcting.

This is why I encourage you to keep on going, patiently guiding and diligently correcting. You will see progress as the years pass. Your daughter’s spelling troubles will gradually lessen. Just as you saw improvement in her reading, you will see improvement in her spelling. Just make sure not to put the focus on word memorization. Rather, place the focus on the ultimate long-term goal of writing correctly and proofreading in daily work.

In Closing

My own third son struggled with the spelling lists in Beyond and Bigger too. He improved as he headed into dictation, even though he is by no means a natural speller. Referring back to his reading material to copy the correct spelling of words has also been a ‘help’ to him. He uses this ‘help’ especially while writing his written narrations. This is another moment where capturing the correct mental image of words (i.e. names and places) and transferring them to paper comes in handy. I share this to encourage you that over time with these methods, even kiddos who struggle with spelling will make gains in the area where it really counts.

Blessings,
Carrie

Scheduled breaks are important!

Teaching Tip: 

Scheduled breaks are important!

As we are in the midst of summer in South Dakota, I am reminded of the importance of taking a break from school. Scheduled time off is important for both parent and child. It is a time to rest, rejuvenate, ponder, and do projects.  Breaks lend themselves to a different kind of schedule.  The freedom of a break is good for the soul.  Often, if you don’t take time off, you will eventually lose steam and end up taking an unscheduled break anyway.

Should you take a break if you already missed more school than you would like?

Even if your school year was not as successful as you desired, it is still important to take a break! In 2018-2019, we had 160 days with our son Greyson away in the hospital, but our boys at home kept moving forward.  They were in need of a break that summer.  Even though my husband and I were gone a lot, we needed a break too. Taking a scheduled break is different than taking a break due to life’s circumstances.  So, if you can take a scheduled break for a few weeks or a month, I encourage you to do so!

Why is is important to take a scheduled break?

Scheduled breaks are something both you and your child can look forward to with anticipation.  The break time can be wisely spent if you know it is coming.  It can be a time to organize, read, travel, plan, catch up on needed rest, or work on character training. The break can be time for your children to rest their minds and pursue their hobbies and interests. A scheduled break can be a time of refreshment and rejuvenation.  When it is over, often both you and your child will feel more ready to return to the routine of school.

What is a good amount of time for a break?

Each family will differ in the amount of time they feel is right for their break.  I typically like to have at least one month off from school.  A couple of weeks just doesn’t feel like a true break to me! If we’ve had a good school year with few interruptions, I will take the whole summer off from school. For our son Greyson, we had a different schedule the summer of 2019.  Since he missed so much school that year, he did half-days of school four days a week during the summer.  He schooled on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. We checked his school twice a week, but my husband did the checking, so I got a break!

Plan to take a scheduled break.

If you haven’t already done so, take time to plan a scheduled break soon!  Use your break time in a way that helps you and your children rejuvenate.  Then, see if you feel more ready to begin school after your break.  We all need time to step back and refresh from life’s challenges.  Otherwise, we will just wear out! Plan for your next scheduled break today.

Blessings,

Carrie

How can my high school daughter earn her Fine Arts credit?

Dear Carrie

How can my high school daughter earn her Fine Arts credit?

For high school, my daughter will be doing Heart of Dakota’s Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM), World Geography (WG), World History (WH), and U.S. History I (USI). My question is about an art/music credit. So far, the guides have all had an art or music study. We have loved this! In MTMM, we will have the nature journal. However, I don’t see any art in the WG guide, I don’t know about the WH guide either. Will my daughter be able to earn a credit in art/music in high school if she’s doing MTMM through USI? Thanks!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My High School Daughter Earn Her Art/Music Credit”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My High School Daughter Earn Her Art/Music Credit,”

Just like you, I have been very pleased by the various areas of fine arts emphasized throughout our guides. I enjoyed the watercolor painting lessons my boys did in Creation to Christ (CTC). Then, I loved the Charlotte Mason-style picture study and art appreciation sessions in Resurrection to Reformation (RTR). Next, my boys and I enjoyed the music appreciation and composer study in Revival to Revolution (RevtoRev). After that, we loved the nature journal and related art-lessons in MTMM. We’ve happily read, written, and discussed poetry all throughout every guide from Beyond on up! To top it off, my boys have all become better drawers through the years as we’ve done Draw and Write Through History!

Making Art Appreciation a Part of the Fine Arts Credit

When we arrived at the high school years, and the Fine Arts credit loomed, it was hard to decide in what direction to go in pursuit of that credit. I must admit that with my oldest son (who didn’t have the benefit of having the HOD guides already written), I floundered a bit in how to pursue this credit in a way that would be interesting to him. So, we tried two different music- related approaches, and one was more successful than the other. Yet, as I looked at my next son coming up, I really wanted to focus more deeply on art appreciation. This made sense because he had more recently (and thoroughly) covered music and the composers already through Revival to Revolution.

Having a Hands-On Component, Narrative Readings, Picture Study, and a Christian Influence Within Our Fine Arts Credit

I also really wanted to have the Christian influence wound within our Fine Arts credit, as well as having a hands-on component to the program too. As part of the study, I wanted some living, narrative textual information about the artists along with some follow-up assessments. I desired for this to be combined with some beautiful picture study/viewing. Last, I wanted students of all levels of artistry to be able to enjoy the program and learn to appreciate art. It was a tall order, and one that I wasn’t able to succeed in finding until I wrote the World History guide. I looked a long time (years in fact) before coming to the combination of resources that I will share below. I am excited and happy with the combination, and I pray your daughter enjoys earning her Fine Arts credit in World History too!

God and the History of Art

The first resource in our Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation course is the 3-part DVD series God and the History of Art. This DVD series is divided into 12 parts, during which Barry Stebbing journeys through the centuries offering Biblical insights into the great art and artists of the ages. This DVD set features beautiful colors, paintings, and classical music. God and the History of Art provides a unique view into many of the great works of art in Western culture. We integrate this series throughout our chronological study of art history. Lessons include the following:

  • What is Art?
  • The Second Commandment
  • Early Christian Art
  • Godly Periods of Art/Byzantine
  • Christian Artists
  • The Dark Ages/Monasteries
  • The Gothic Period
  • The Renaissance
  • The Reformation
  • French Neo-Classical Art
  • American Artist and Other Artists and Styles
Short Lessons in Art History

The next resource in our Fine Arts program is Short Lessons in Art History by Phyllis Clausen Barker. This book includes narrative biographical readings about 37 artists and/or sculptors beginning with “Artists of the Italian Renaissance” and ending with “Contemporary Sculptors.” Short Lessons in Art History brings art to life with lessons that showcase the successes and struggles of legendary artists. The readings build an appreciation for major artists and art movements from the Italian Renaissance to current times. Students are captivated by the high-interest readings on artists and the cultural and personal forces that shaped their work. A full-color insert highlights timeless works of art. Click here to see inside!

Exercises and Activities for Short Lessons in Art History

Exercises and Activities for Short Lessons in Art History is designed as a companion to Short Lessons in Art History. It includes activities that move from basic comprehension (through fill-in-the-blank, word puzzles, crosswords, and matching) to synthesis (through short answer questions) to deeper insight (through independent writing or research topics). Used in combination with the Short Lessons for Art History text, students increase their awareness of various artists and their work and draw their own conclusions about what makes the work of certain artists timeless. Note: Since the art projects within these lessons are not described or laid out very clearly, and often are overwhelming to perform without more instruction, we omit the “Art Projects” part of the activities and cover this area in a more manageable way. Click here to see inside!

Our Charlotte Mason-Inspired Art Gallery Student Notebook

As narrative as the Short Lessons in Art History text is, it does not shine in the area of full color artwork. While it would seem easy to add to a book of art prints to accompany the text, this route had many barriers. First, many of these types of full-color art print books are very expensive. Next, the prints often contain multiple images with nudity. Last, even after overlooking cost and the lack of clothing issues, many books didn’t contain prints of all of the artists the students were studying. To remedy these problems, we designed an Art Gallery Student Notebook that contains at least one full-color print for each artist. The Art Gallery Notebook is used in conjunction with the Short Lessons in Art History readings and provides a beautiful collection of paintings by famous artists throughout history. It is a very CM-inspired part of the program!

Pat Knepley’s Art Projects DVD Set

The final component of our Fine Arts program is the Art Projects DVD Set from See the Light. When I found this set, I knew the final piece of our Fine Arts program had (at long last) fallen into place! This is a 9 DVD Set of art projects designed to be completed at home. The projects on each DVD are narrated, modeled, and taught with a Christian emphasis by master artist Pat Knepley. Each DVD focuses on a different artist and a different type of art project. Projects are divided into 4 separate sessions, and Pat takes you through each step of the lesson on the DVD.

Pacing and Details About the Art Projects Portion of the Fine Arts Credit

We have students do one art project session each week, completing an art project every 4 weeks. The design of the projects makes this an art class that your students can enjoy and excel at in the comfort of your own home. We plan for sessions to last about an hour with the DVD running about 30 minutes. This allows time for students to pause and work along with Pat and take their time to be creative and do the project well. Some students may take longer to work.

Each DVD includes art history, art elements, art principles, step-by-step tutoring, and integrated Biblical truths. At the end, students have created a portfolio of 9 completed projects as part of their Fine Arts study. Artists and corresponding projects are the following (the art history style and medium are listed in parentheses):

  • Tiffany Window in the style of Louis Comfort Tiffany (Tiffany Windows: Marker)
  • Repeated Sweets in the style of Wayne Thiebaud (Pop Art: Watercolor)
  • Paper Jungle in the style Henri Rousseau (Naive Art, Collage: Paper Collage)
  • Pointillism Fruit in the style of Georges Seurat (Pointillism, Impressionism: Still Life)
  • Poppy Collage in the style of Georgia O’Keefe (Realism, Abstraction: Tissue Paper Collage)
  • Dreams of Joseph in the style of Marc Chagall (Surrealism, Symbolism, Fauvism: Wet-on-Wet Painting)
  • Horsing Around in the style of Edgar Degas (Impressionism: Chalk Pastel)
  • Peaceful Seas in the style of Winslow Homer (Realism: Mixed Media)
  • Sunflowers in the style of Vincent Van Gogh (Post-Impressionism: Oil Pastel)
Two Options for Earning Credit 

The last benefit to the Fine Arts program that I’ve outlined is that there will be two options for credit with this program. The first option (and the recommended option) will be to earn one-full credit in Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation by using all of the resources outlined above and scheduled in our guide.

The second option will be to earn 1/2 credit in Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation by omitting the Art Projects DVD Set. This option will utilize all of the remaining art resources outlined above, but will omit the once weekly art project session. This option is only recommended if you have already met part of your Fine Arts requirement some other way, or if your state only requires 1/2 credit in Fine Arts.

Blessings,
Carrie

A little bit of playtime can go a long way!

Teaching Tip

A little bit of playtime can go a long way!

If you have little ones, here’s a tip you can put into practice during summer break! This summer, train your little ones to have a 20-30 minute playtime alone in a designated safe area at least once daily.  For really young ones, the playpen or the crib can serve as the designated area.  For kiddos aged 3 or older, a gated play area can work well. For kiddos closer to school-age, playtime in their bedroom can be an option.

What can the kiddos do during this designated playtime?

During playtime in the designated area, we had certain toys for the child to play with during that time. When the kids were younger, we kept those toys/books in 5 lidded storage tubs numbered days 1-5.  Each day, we just pulled out the next numbered tub. We stored the tubs under our bed. When the kiddos got older, we listed safe toys from our playroom on index cards numbered 1-5 instead. We placed the index cards on a ring on our fridge.  We flipped to a new card each day to know which toys to set out for playtime for that day.

Focus on getting your young ones to have some playtime alone in a safe space.

There are many different variations you could use to accomplish this goal.  The focus needs to be on the little one having a bit of playtime alone in a safe environment. This is so helpful during the school year and makes for a happy little one and a happy mama! Don’t despair if the training takes some time. Just remember you are training for the future.

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: Looking for more ways to utilize playtime to keep your days running smoothly? Check out this Teaching Tip!