Reading classic literature at the “right time” can make a literature lover out of anyone!

Teaching Tip:

Reading classic literature at the “right time” can make a literature lover out of anyone!

My tip this week comes from more than 29 consecutive years as a teacher (which definitely shows my age). The reason I mention my years of teaching experience is because this tip is born out of years “in the trenches.” My tip is that reading classic literature at the “right time” can make a literature lover out of anyone. Deciding the “right time” to read various pieces of classic literature takes some thinking. The right time is not the same for everyone for every piece of literature.

How do you decide the “right time” to read various classics?
  1. Prior to reading (longer) unabridged classics, your child must have a reading level that allows him to comprehend the literature.
  2. He must either have a strong vocabulary or have had quite a bit of exposure to understanding higher level vocabulary. Having a strong vocabulary helps ensure the reading has meaning for your child.
  3. Your child should have some understanding of the historical time period of the literature in order to understand the context. Previous or concurrent study of the various historical time periods helps provide context.
  4. Stair-stepping your child up through gradually more difficult books leading to the reading of harder, classic literature is helpful. Otherwise, it may feel as if your child has suddenly been dumped into the literary deep end.
  5. It is wise to be sure your child is old enough to weigh mature elements and themes within a piece of literature. Otherwise, you may find your child has come to some disturbing conclusions. Literature is a powerful tool in shaping your child’s worldview. Discernment in reading often comes with maturity and a strong Biblical foundation.
What about reading abridgments of classic literature at an early age?

If a child reads abridgments at an early age, often the parents are given the impression the child is ready for more difficult, unabridged versions. It is true that after reading an abridgment a child can often get through the unabridged version. However, this doesn’t mean the child was truly ready for the unabridged version. It also doesn’t mean the unabridged version is appropriate in content or level! Instead, it means the abridgment provided the summary of the story that allowed the child to make sense of the unabridged version.

Charlotte Mason was not a fan of abridgments.

I’ll share that in true Charlotte Mason fashion I am not a huge fan of abridgments. I believe that waiting to read the story in unabridged form often provides a much richer experience. Plus, being able to read and enjoy literature in unabridged form first is a good indicator it is the “right time” for that piece of literature.

Even if your child can read classic literature early, should he?

Even if your child is an amazing reader who can read unabridged classic literature at a young age, should he? It is good to weigh whether the experience would be richer if your child waited until he was older. I know with my oldest son this was the case, even though he read the unabridged Robinson Crusoe when he was 8. Would it have been richer and better if he read this work in late middle school or high school? I believe so, and I believe this is true in many cases. I share these thoughts not to be controversial but instead to get you thinking. When is the “right time” for my child to read various pieces of classic literature? Just because a child “can” read something doesn’t mean it “is” the right time to read it. Truly, some books are best savored later!

Much thought goes into the place each literature selection holds in your HOD guide.

Today’s teaching tip is designed to show the thought and care that goes into each literature selection and its place in your HOD guide. If your child is well-placed within his HOD guide skill-wise, then the literature placement will be right too. Struggling through classic literature at the “wrong time,” without the steps I’ve mentioned above, can steal your child’s love of literature. Help your child love literature today! Correct placement in our guides is key to help you cultivate a love for literature as your child develops.

Blessings,
Carrie

DITHOR Lessons and Projects with Two Students in Different Levels

Dear Carrie

How does a DITHOR lesson and project look with two students in different levels?

Dear Carrie,

How does a DITHOR “lesson” look with two students in different levels? I’m trying to figure out how we do this when they’re reading different books. If my boys are in different levels (older reading 4/5 and younger reading 2/3), but we are studying the same genre, do I choose the same project for them? Thanks!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Describe a DITHOR Lesson and Project for Two Students in Different Levels in Heart of Dakota

Dear “Ms. Please Describe a DITHOR Lesson and Project for Two Students in Different Levels,”

You can choose the same project for your two students if desired, or you can do different projects. I often let my boys choose from among the project options. Sometimes they choose to do the same project, and other times they choose to do a different project. I just have the planning meeting with them on the “first” project day, as laid out in the guide. Then, I typically break the task down for them, so they know what to do each day for 5 days. I keep the project time each day the same as a typical DITHOR lesson, so in that way the project does not take over our day.

I use the first day of our scheduled DITHOR time to map out the pages they’ll be reading and choose a kick-off.

One thing I do to keep DITHOR going well throughout the year, is on the first day during our scheduled DITHOR time, I just sit down with the kiddos and map out the pages they’ll be reading in their Student Books and also choose a kick-off. I count that as my first DITHOR day. Then, I put the guide away, and the next day we do the kick-off. As each day passes I just teach through the guide, one day at a time, and when I get to the project day, we just pick the project and map it out. Then, we put the guide away. The next day we begin the project.

I plan DITHOR right within my school day to avoid planning in the evenings.

This way, I don’t have to do planning at night ahead of time but can just sit down and do it when it comes up in my DITHOR time during the school day. If I need a bit of planning for DITHOR in which the kiddos aren’t needing to be present, I send them to do their next subject instead. It sometimes adds a few days to DITHOR to do it this way, but it keeps us going forward steadily and keeps me from having any planning to do in the evenings. It makes DITHOR fit right within the school day, and I’m never caught unprepared. DITHOR truly can be open-and-go, as long as you’ve chosen the books to read. But, if I do come across something I’m not ready for, I just stop and plan it then and there and then do it with the kiddos the next day.

My oldest two sons reaped the benefits of DITHOR in high school level literature.

My oldest two sons really reaped the benefits from DITHOR with a seamless transition to high school level literature. Their moral discernment far outweighs what I had book-wise when I was their age too! They actually choose to read classic novels and enjoy themselves in the process. Their love of reading was truly encouraged with DITHOR, and I am thankful daily for the discussions we had about literature in light of the Bible throughout their elementary and middle school years thanks to DITHOR. I hope you have a great start to DITHOR!

Blessings,
Carrie

Schedule a healthy mid-morning snack time.

Teaching Tip:

Make sure your students aren’t hungry during school time.

Here is one simple tip that can really make a big impact on your day! Make sure your students aren’t hungry during school time. If you think about it, what happens when you are hungry? Once your own stomach starts to protest that it is need of food, your mind can often think of little else. The same is true for students.

Schedule a healthy mid-morning snack time.

To combat the tummy rumbles before they start, be sure to schedule a healthy snack time sometime during the mid-morning. We have our snack time around 10:30. I have a list of snack choices on our cupboard door. My kiddos have a snack time scheduled so they know when to go and get a snack for themselves. My little ones must have their snack at the kitchen table. My older ones can take their snack to their work area and keep on working.

What are some ideas for snacks?

Our snack choice list includes the following: applesauce, banana, yogurt raisins, mountain mix, mixed nuts, dried fruit, Clif bar, Craisins, oatmeal bar, yogurt or gogurt, mandarin orange cup, diced peach cup, diced pear cup, peanut butter crackers, goldfish crackers, Cheez-its, pretzels, teddy grahams, or a cheese stick. For those snacks that are eaten by hand, we bought small dishwasher safe glass cups that are one serving size. The kiddos use the small cups for dishing out snacks like yogurt raisins, mountain mix, or dried fruit. That way they don’t get too much!

Try adding a mid-morning snack to your schedule.

Try adding a mid-morning snack time to your schedule! See if your kiddos’ sense of urgency for lunch is abated (allowing them to concentrate better). I know it works here! Who knows? You may even enjoy having a snack time too!

Blessings,
Carrie

Stay with Bigger or switch to Beyond for a struggling third grader?

Dear Carrie

Should I keep my third grader who is struggling with reading and writing in Bigger Hearts, or place him in Beyond instead?

Dear Carrie,

I’m a mother of 5. My oldest is doing Creation to Christ. The next two are going half-speed in Little Hearts. My 2 year keeps me hopping, but it is my 8 year old who’s struggling. We are 3 weeks into Bigger Hearts. He’s a struggling reader. He also struggles with writing. During copywork, he leaves out words, writes letters previously mastered incorrectly, copies wrong letters, or leaves letters out. It’s time-consuming for me to sit with him. He has to erase, correct, and it’s still sloppy! He’s not doing the cursive or poetry copywork. He struggles with the Bible verse copywork, the science copywork, and the vocabulary words and definitions. I’m also helping him write the science and history notebooking. Will he just grow into this, or should I have placed him in Beyond? He’s in third grade though, and I don’t want him to get further behind.

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Stuggling Third Grader”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Struggling Third Grader,”

Struggling in two of the 3R’s is a challenge when doing Bigger. In looking down the road, I would be concerned that even if he manages to get through Bigger, by the time he gets to Preparing on up, I worry that each year will feel like an overwhelming task for both you and your son. In looking at the fact that he isn’t doing the cursive or copywork of the poem right now, I am also assuming that you might not be getting to the written part of DITHR either? Or, perhaps your son is doing the Emerging Reader’s Set?

The copywork and reading assignments are important preparatory work to be successful in the next guide.

Honestly, the copywork and reading assignments are going to be very important right now. They will help him gain needed confidence and practice in his areas of difficulty. With the workload feeling too heavy in Bigger, it is likely that you will end up downsizing or skipping things that your son will actually need in order to be successful in the next guide.

I’d recommend shifting him down to Heart of Dakota‘s Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.

So, my recommendation would be to shift him down to Beyond. Due to his age, I would keep Rod and Staff English 2 to do daily along with Beyond. I would make sure that he writes a small portion on paper each day for English to practice getting comfortable writing on paper. Since he’s on the upper end of the age range for Beyond, I would also be sure that he completes several lines of copywork of the poem from Beyond each day. He can strive to copy the entire poem by the end of the week.

I’d be sure to do either the Emerging Reader’s Set or DITHR each day.

Then, I would be sure to daily do the Emerging Reader’s Set (if that is where he is) or do DITHR. With DITHR, when you get there, you can do some writing for him at first. You can also write on a markerboard for him to copy on his paper later. Eventually, move toward having him do more of the writing in DITHR in preparation for Bigger.

Give your third grader the gift of time to mature into needed skills.

With boys, it is especially important to give them every chance to mature into the needed fine motor skills. I taught third grade for many years in the public school, and it was easy to tell which kiddos needed a bit more time to mature (and most often they were boys). So, give your little honey the gift of time to grow into needed skills. Don’t worry about adding to the science, as he will still get twice weekly science lessons in Beyond. Just worry about the 3R’s right now and gently ease him into those needed skills daily, along with all of the other excellent skills found within Beyond. Doing all of Beyond well, rather than randomly skipping things or downsizing within Bigger will help your son be more prepared for the next guide the following year.

Blessings,
Carrie

How much “together time” is beneficial?

Teaching Tip: 

How much “together time” is beneficial?

In my last teaching tip, I mentioned how we can always be assured of plenty of “together time” in a homeschooling setting! One thing to weigh is how much “together time” is truly beneficial? Often as homeschool teachers, we default into thinking that anything done together is better. Often we think that knowledge shared in a group is better, because it is shared.

How do you learn best?

Think through the way that you learn best. Would you say that the “group experience” is the only way or the best way for you to learn? I know for me this isn’t necessarily true.

Be specific in choosing which experiences are shared.

This is why it is important to be specific in choosing which experiences are shared and which ones are individual. Sometimes experiences are shared only between teacher and one student.

What kind of experiences are best done one-on-one?

Personal/private sharing is best done one-on-one. Difficult subjects are best done one-on-one. Subjects that require concentrated attention are best done with few interruptions.

Make a conscious choice about how to handle each subject.

Try making a conscious choice about which subjects are best as a group experience and which subjects are best one-on-one. This specific choosing will make each subject more meaningful. It will also help each subject be better suited to your students’ needs! Try make conscious choices today, and see if your school day goes more smoothly!

Blessings,
Carrie