Do your children visualize words on their “mental blackboards”?

Teaching Tip:

Do you have a child working on spelling or studied dictation?

Is your child working through the spelling lists in Beyond or Bigger Hearts? Or, is your child working through the studied dictation passages in the guides that come next? Either way, today’s teaching tip is for you!

Visualizing words on a mental blackboard is one key Charlotte Mason skill for spelling.

One of the skills we are working toward is for the child to be able to visualize words on his/her mental blackboard. Capturing the correct spelling of a word is much easier if the word really stands out in a way that the mind can quickly “capture.”

Using a black marker on a white surface helps the mind “capture” the word.

Whenever you have to write a word for your child to visualize, it is good to use a black marker on a white surface. This can be a black marker on a white index card like the spelling cards for Beyond or Bigger Hearts. Or, the same technique works for words you may desire your child to focus on within the dictation passages. These words can be written on a whiteboard with a black marker for the child to study prior to having the passage dictated.

Tracing difficult words using a black pencil on a white page helps students “capture” the word too.

Another technique that works is to have the child trace any difficult words within the dictation passage using his/her black pencil. Having the words outlined in black on the white page helps kiddos mentally “capture” the word too! Try these tips and see if they help your child with spelling and dictation. I know these tips have helped mine!

Carrie

Placement Help for a 13 Year Old Son with an Extremely Busy Mom

Pondering Placement

Placement Help for a 13 Year Old Son with an Extremely Busy Mom

We’re new to Heart of Dakota, and I’m trying to place my 13 year old. His reading isn’t super strong. However, he’s not a struggling reader. We’ve had no previous exposure to dictation or narration. I’m an extremely busy mom with a baby on the way in 6 weeks, and I have difficult pregnancies. I have a 3 year old too. I’ll be teaching my 6 year old to read and starting Little Hearts for His Glory. We also live on a ranch with horses and chickens and a lot of responsibilities. We’ve already done some of the Apologia elementary sciences but not Land Animals. So I am wondering with my family dynamics and my son’s ability if starting him with CTC would be right or too easy. I originally wanted to start him with Revival to Revolution but am now thinking that would be way too hard. Help!

Reply: Placement Help for a 13 Year Old Son with an Extremely Busy Mom

I’d be glad to help with placement for your 13 year old son! From what you’ve shared, I would agree that placing him in CTC would be the best fit in pretty much every area. I would lean toward placing him in English 5, as CTC does only the first half of English 5 (with the second half in RTR). You can do much of it orally or on a whiteboard, with just a portion assigned to be done on paper each day. I do think it will be good for him to do Write the Best as scheduled in CTC for writing.

I would recommend Drawn into the Heart of Reading 4/5.

If you haven’t had much in the way of formal literature instruction, I would lean toward using Level 4/5 of Drawn into the Heart of Reading for one year. After that I would bump him up to Level 6/7/8 the following year. Even if you haven’t completed all of Level 4/5, I’d still move him up. Just make sure when you switch to Level 6/7/8, you do the genres you didn’t get to in Level 4/5 first. In that way, he’ll receive a balanced reading experience.

I would recommend doing the science as written in CTC, but add the Biology 101 DVDs.

As far as the science goes, I would lean toward doing it as written in CTC, however you may wish to add something like the Biology 101 DVDs for him to watch on the 5th day of each week, just to raise the content level a bit (since your son will be on the older age range of the guide).

I would recommend adding the CTC Extension Package for your son.

You’ll need the Extension Pack for your son in CTC, but not the Basic Package. This is because of your son’s age, and also because you will be doing another HOD program with a read-aloud already for LHFHG. In that way, you won’t need to do multiple read-alouds each day.

I think your 7 year old might enjoy The Reading Lesson for phonics.

I think you have a good plan coming together! As far as your 7 year old in LHFHG goes, you could consider The Reading Lesson with the downloadable CD for helping him learn to read. It is a good incremental approach and can be done cuddled on the couch in just short sessions each day. The downloadable CD is hugely helpful and entertaining.

I am sorry to hear about your difficulty pregnancies and pray for your babe and for you.

On a sidenote, I’m so sorry for your difficult pregnancies. I have had those too with every pregnancy I’ve had… bedrest and long hospital stays with babies finally coming early around 34-35 weeks (which was always a blessing for me to get that far). I pray for your babe to be here in God’s perfect timing.

Blessings,
Carrie

Homeschool mom of 4 who doesn’t want to combine… tips? Scheduling ideas?

Dear Carrie

I am a homeschool mom of 4, and I am not comfortable combining, so what tips or scheduling ideas do you have?

Dear Carrie,

I am a homeschool mom of four children ages 7, 5, 3, 2. I’m excited, and after much research I am set on Heart of Dakota! However, I need some encouragement that it is possible to homeschool four children without losing your sanity. I really want this to be an extension of peace in our home. I’m not comfortable with combining them in the same programs, (2 and 2). So, any tips or scheduling ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Sincerely,

“Please Help Me with Scheduling Ideas for 4 Without Combining”

Dear “Please Help Me with Scheduling Ideas for 4 Without Combining,”

I’m not sure if you have had a chance to check out the scheduling thread. That may be worth a peek, and you can click here to check it out!

When working with LHTH, LHFHG or Beyond, I like scheduling 30 minutes to do the left side of the daily plans in one sitting for each guide. During this 30 minute session, I start with the history (or Bible) reading first and then end with the box on the left side of the plans that looks like I could get the kiddos started and they could finish on their own. Often that is scheduling the bottom left-hand corner box.

I minimize interruptions by planning ahead, and I teach the 30 minute left side of the guide in the morning.

During that 30 minutes time, I make sure I won’t have interruptions. I don’t answer the phone, put in a load of laundry, or leave the child’s side. Any kiddos who need me come to me, however they are NOT to interrupt unless it’s a severe emergency. I makes sure about scheduling the baby to happily play with toys in his crib or playpen for that 30 minutes. I make sure the older kiddos are working independently. Often scheduling the middle kiddo to listen to a book on tape, to finish his chores, or to do an educational computer game works well. I also try to make sure to get my 30 minutes left side of the guide time in for each of my kiddos in the morning. This takes the pressure off because I’ve already finished a big chunk of the day’s plans by lunch then.

I start with something independent, so I have time for grooming for baby and me.

Since I’m not a morning person, I take that into account and scheduling my kiddos to start with something independent the first part of the day helps. That way, I have time to get the baby (and me) dressed and groomed. I can check everyone’s rooms and make sure everyone has eaten before launching into my teaching for the day. Yet, my kiddos are already underway during that time doing their first subject pretty independently. Additionally, I like scheduling the kiddos to have at least one or more subjects out of the way before joining me for their 30 minute left side session.

I like to to plan 45-60 minutes of playtime for my 4-6 year olds after breakfast.

I do like scheduling my 4-6 year olds to play an extra 45 – 60 minutes in their room after breakfast in the morning too. This gives me time with my olders to quietly work on their tougher subjects before the little ones descend upon us for the day.

We enjoy a morning recess 45 minutes each day and eat lunch together.

We all do still like scheduling a morning recess together for 45 minutes every day. Usually, we typically go out around 11:00. Also, we all eat lunch together, which my oldest begins getting ready while I’m finishing with the youngers. (We keep it very simple following the weekly menu on the fridge).

It also helps to do the LHTH toddler/preschooler earlier in the day so that the little one feels like he/she has had time with mama. Once he’s been with me, he’s more content to go play. Otherwise, that little one is begging for my time all day! Hope these tips help!

Blessings,
Carrie

Don’t interrupt the flow of the reading.

Teaching Tip:

What is a “living book”?

Heart of Dakota’s curriculum is full of living books. Each living book is typically written by a single author who is very passionate about his/her topic. These books stand out for their conversational, narrative style and their ability to make almost any subject come to life. Living books are read in smaller segments slowly over time to allow your students to “live” with the books.

As you read aloud a living book, don’t pause during the reading to explain or question.

In a Charlotte Mason style living book reading, it is important not to stop and explain or question during the reading. You may be tempted to define difficult words, explain what is happening, or question your child to be sure he/she is understanding. While you may think you’re helping your child comprehend better by doing these things, you really aren’t!

Interrupting the flow of the reading makes it more difficult for the child to comprehend and make connections.

Charlotte Mason says that stopping during a reading to explain or question actually interrupts the flow of the reading. This makes it more difficult for the child to comprehend and make his/her own connections. So, whenever you feel the urge to pause during the reading to “help” your child, resist the urge and read on!

Reading without interruption, helps develop the habit of attention.

As your child learns to attend to a single reading, your child will be developing the habit of attention. This is a much needed habit to cultivate and isn’t one that occurs naturally in all kiddos. Try making a point not to interrupt the reading and see if your child eventually begins to attend better. I know I have been pleasantly surprised with my own boys when I tried this essential step when reading aloud!

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: Want to see more reasons why we love living books at Heart of Dakota? Have a look at this blog post here!

Better Beloved Living Books Instead of Less Loved Dry Textbooks

How do learning styles affect a child’s ability to orally narrate?

Dear Carrie

How do learning styles affect a child’s ability to orally narrate?

Dear Carrie,

We just started using Heart of Dakota and are enjoying it. I am just wondering how learning styles affect a child’s ability to orally narrate. What if a child is not an auditory learner? Can this complicate their ability to answer and respond to questions? My daughter is a hands-on, visual learner. She struggles to answer questions after I have read a history lesson to her (LHFHG). Is this typical for her age (6) as she learns to concentrate on listening carefully? Or would it be a sign of laziness? Or should I attribute it to her learning style? Should I give her a break when it comes to remembering what she has heard? I know that Charlotte Mason insisted on only one reading before narration. Should I just keep encouraging her to listen more carefully?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Explain How Learning Styles Affect a Child’s Ability to Orally Narrate”

Dear “Ms. Please Explain How Learning Styles Affect a Child’s Ability to Orally Narrate,”

Narration is different than answering questions. Narrating upon a passage means having the child tell back in his/her own words what was remembered from the passage that was just read. The questions at the end of the chapters in History Stories for Children or History for Little Pilgrims actually aren’t leading to narration. They are more just question and answer sessions. The questions in these cases are an extra bonus part of the readings. I don’t consider these to be hugely necessary at this stage of learning. Especially when the reading has been spread out over more than one day, your child should not be expected to remember the answers to those questions that are delayed in the asking. The activities that follow the reading (in the other boxes of the LHFHG day’s plans) are those that I would consider more appropriate and necessary skill-wise for students to complete.

In contrast, the Thorton Burgess questions are more like narration prompts or starters.

On the other hand, the Thornton Burgess style questions are meant to lead to narration. These questions are what I would consider to be narration prompts or narration starters. Each day of the Storytime part of the plans has a specific skill focus. This means that each day hits a different set of skills, all of which are very important to building narration, discernment, vocabulary, writing, and a host of other skills.

Though a child’s learning style may affect how he orally narrates, children of all learning styles can learn to narrate well.¬†

A child’s learning style may affect how well or how easily a child narrates, but kiddos of all learning styles can learn to narrate well. While auditory learners are good listeners, this doesn’t mean they will easily sift and sort through what they heard in order to organize a lucid narration! Though visual learners benefit from seeing and reading their own textual material leading to better narration, it doesn’t mean they won’t be able to narrate well until they can read their material themselves. While kinesthetic, hands-on learners benefit from acting out the story to help retell it (as we do in the Storytime box of the plans, or in writing or typing their narration as we do in later guides), this doesn’t mean they can’t learn to be great narrators unless those techniques are used. I know this is true because it has been true for my 4 sons.

Though my sons have their own learning styles, each can learn to orally narrate well.

My oldest son is a bodily, kinesthetic learner. Yet, he is good a seeing the big picture. This makes him a natural oral narrator, even when he just listens or reads without any bodily motion. My second son is a detailed, artistic child. He is not auditory, but is very visual. His sense of detail leads to him being a good, detailed oral narrator (whether he is listening or reading the material himself). My third son is an auditory child. He loves anything audio or read aloud, yet he was my briefest narrator for several years. Now, he narrates very well, which just means that it took him some time to come along in the narration department. My youngest is also auditory, and he is coming along well but taking his time to work up to any length.

All children can learn to orally narrate well, regardless of their learning style.

As you can see, though we have different learning styles represented at our house, success in narrating doesn’t necessarily correlate to their learning style. I share this so you can be assured that all children can learn to narrate regardless of their learning style, with regular practice. We build this practice into all of Heart of Dakota’s guides, so you can be sure that we will help you lead your children toward becoming better narrators one step at a time.

Blessings,
Carrie