Are you doing the daily oral drill in Rod and Staff English?

Teaching Tip:

Are you doing the daily oral drill in Rod and Staff English?

If you’ve been neglecting the oral drill in English, I would encourage you start making it a part of your routine. The oral drill mainly begins in the Rod and Staff Teacher’s Guide in English 3. It is included in each guide after that. The drill reviews concepts that were taught previously. Its purpose is to cement new concepts and to keep old concepts fresh in your students’ minds.

Don’t skip the daily oral drill in Rod and Staff English.

The daily oral drill at the beginning of each lesson is truly an integral part of the lesson! It is a short daily drill that reaps big rewards. While you may be tempted to skip the oral drill, I would encourage you to think again! In the long run, the daily drill is time well-spent. Kiddos remember what they have learned much better simply due to the oral drill. It really makes a difference over time!

Try doing the daily oral drill at the beginning of your English lessons.

Give the oral drill a try. Don’t be surprised if your students can’t answer all of the oral drill right away. Be ready to help with a quick nudge if needed. Don’t drag the oral drill out, or turn it into a review lesson. Simply move through the drill giving hints and help as needed. See if you notice better retention in your students over time!

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: Want more tips on how to achieve success with Rod and Staff English? Have a look at this article:

How can you achieve success with Rod and Staff English?

Is it normal for parental involvement to lessen in Creation to Christ?

Dear Carrie

Is it normal for my level of parental involvement to lessen in Creation to Christ?

Dear Carrie,

I have 2 children doing Creation to Christ. I’m blessed Heart of Dakota has taught them independence! They are wonderful at using the guide and finishing their work. Praise God! I answer questions, check work, and lead the teacher-directed things. But, I find it’s different this year. In the younger years, I read aloud all of the books. Now, I spend more time with my 7 yo in Bigger, my 5 yo in LHFHG, and my 3 yo. I feel like it’s impossible to be much more involved than I am! I’d love to have time to sit and read the CTC books with the olders, but I just can’t! I guess I need either encouragement or constructive criticism! Is it normal for my level of involvement to change in Creation to Christ?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Know If It Is Normal for My Level of Involvement to Change in Creation to Christ”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Know If It Is Normal for My Level of Involvement to Change in Creation to Christ,”

This is a great question! Whenever we write an HOD guide, we strive for balance. We especially find it important for us to have a balance of “Teacher-Directed,” “Semi-Independent,” and “Independent” activities. While we may have more ‘I’s in a guide, that doesn’t necessarily mean we spend more time on “I” activities. It just means that we often keep the ‘I’ activities shorter. We do this in order for them to be truly independent (so it takes more ‘I’ activities to equal out the minutes spent on ‘T’ and ‘S’ activities).

We systematically move skills we have taught toward being independent.

As kiddos progress through our guides, we systematically move skills we have taught toward being ‘Independent.’  This allows us to teach and practice new skills in each guide. With this thought in mind, once kiddos are able to read their own history and science material, we desire for them to be doing the reading. This aids in better retention, produces stronger written and oral narrations, increases a child’s vocabulary as they see and read difficult words in print, and gives the child a chance to pace the reading as needed to suit his/her specific reading level. We do keep storytime as an area where the parent can cuddle up with the child to share great books, and we tie follow-up skills to the readings.

Older children benefit from reading on their own, and teaching time is precious, so we choose teaching tasks carefully.

As homeschool parents, we likely have limited time each day to formally “teach” our children. If we choose to utilize that precious teaching time with our older children to read aloud material that the children would benefit from reading on their own, then we draw from our well of teaching time by doing a task like reading aloud that isn’t really a teaching task. We want to be sure that any task we choose for the teacher to do is truly a teaching task.

Allowing older children to read their own material frees up time to teach important things that otherwise could be missed.

By allowing the children to read their own material, we free up time to teach important things that may otherwise be missed. We can interact with our students in studies like the Genesis study in The Radical Book for Kids, or purity studies like Beautiful Girlhood or Boyhood and Beyond, or in Biblical worldview studies through Who Is God?. Likewise, we can enjoy working  through poetry, art, and music appreciation. Additionally, we can spend time teaching writing programs, interacting with grammar lessons, hearing narrations, and dialoguing as the students show us their notebooking. We can focus on interaction with the student that goes far beyond reading aloud.

Our guides incrementally prepare students for the level of independence needed in high school and college.

The design of our guides is also intended to prepare students incrementally for the level of independence that will be needed in high school and college. We teach a high level of reading and following written directions through the ‘I’ boxes of each HOD guide. Students also need time management skills to complete the boxes independently. The students learn these skills, yet parents always have a follow-up or a product that is produced, so they can monitor students’ progress in every subject area. Students love to move toward taking on more of their own learning as they get older, and our guides tap into that God-given path toward maturity by giving the child a bit more responsibility each year.

We are seeking for meaningful interaction moments in every teaching day.

We have truly enjoyed the interactions we have with our children at each level of our HOD guides. I must admit that my 3 youngest kiddos using HOD have had many more opportunities for interaction with me than my oldest son had. This is because we had previously tried so many of the various curricula out there on his homeschool journey. At HOD, we are seeking for “meaningful interaction” moments in every teaching day. We plan for them in each of our guides. So, rest assured, you can know teaching time is there for you each and every day.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together?

Teaching Tip: 

Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together?

Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together, when school and laundry seem to take up much of the day? I have trouble if I don’t have a plan in place for getting the evening meal on the table. So, here is my plan for avoiding the “what shall we have for dinner” panic!

Once a week, make a list of evening meals for each day of the upcoming week.

On Friday, I make a list of evening meals for the week. I list the days of the week on a sticky note. Then, I list the meal including side dishes for each day. I make the list in pencil, so I can change the day for the meal if needed. I always plan one easy meal my hubby or older sons can make for nights when I might be gone. It works best to make the list of meals for the week prior to making the grocery list.

Place all needed recipes for the week in an envelope attached to a kitchen cabinet.

I place all needed recipes for the week in an envelope attached to my kitchen cabinet. This way, I can easily refer to my recipes to see what to add to my grocery list. I also have easy access to the needed recipes as I am cooking or baking. As the week progresses, I love knowing that I have the ingredients for what I am planning to make! Even though it takes me a couple of hours on Friday afternoon, it is worth it to get organized for the week.

Place the list of meals on the refrigerator door.

I place the note with the list of meals for the week on the refrigerator door. This makes it easy for me to see what I am making each day. My boys also can easily see what is for dinner…which they love! This quick reference also helps me see what I could prepare ahead for the evening meal.

Lunch time is a great time to do a little dinner preparation.

My kiddos head outside for their recess after lunch. I find this to be a great time to get a bit of my dinner prep underway. If the evening meal has a crock pot part, I put it in during this time. If it isn’t a crock pot type meal, I might scrub potatoes or cut up needed veggies or fruit. Or, I might put ingredients in my bread maker or bake a batch of muffins during this time. I just make sure that the cooking prep doesn’t exceed my kiddos recess time. Otherwise, I find it hard to return to teaching after recess. By getting a bit of dinner prep out of the way, I have an easier time when the evening meal arrives.

Try planning ahead for a week and see what you think!

Planning ahead has become essential for me in feeding our family. As our 4 boys are growing, they are really getting to be big eaters! This makes the evening meal an important one in their eyes. Try planning ahead for a week and see if it helps you too!

Blessings,
Carrie

A streamlined lunch is a huge help in the homeschool day

How can I beef up Bigger for 5th graders so they are ready for CTC?

Pondering Placement

How can I beef up Bigger Hearts for fifth graders so they are ready for Creation to Christ?

We are lovers of Heart of Dakota and completed LHTH, LHFHG and Beyond! However, then we discovered our twins have dyslexia. We had many issues and took a hiatus from HOD. I tried to keep a Charlotte Mason approach but didn’t do so well. We did manage to read aloud Preparing’s history books, most of the science, some read alouds, and a few extensions. I love Carrie’s book selections! Now we are ready for a new chapter. My twins just turned 10 last week and will be in 5th grade. I’m going to put them in Bigger. I am thinking to then skip Preparing. My question is how can I beef up Bigger so we can make a smooth transition into Creation to Christ? I’m so excited to be back. I really need the structure I get with HOD. Otherwise, I feel like a wanderer with no clear direction.

Carrie’s Reply: The easiest way to beef up Bigger is to add the extensions.

Welcome back! It sounds like you have a good plan forming. As I was thinking through some of what you shared, I do think that Bigger sounds like a good placement for your twins. The easiest way to beef up Bigger is to use the Extension readings as assigned in the Appendix. I’d recommend reading those aloud to your kiddos if time permits, since the reading level is likely a barrier for them to read the extension books independently.

You could possibly omit the Storytime books, but then you would definitely need to do DITHR.

You could possibly forego the Storytime books in lieu of the Extension books to add greater depth to the study. However, the Storytime books have excellent literary skills that you would then miss. In this scenario, you would for sure need to do DITHR then, in order to compensate for losing those skills from the Storytime box. I hesitate to suggest this option, as it would benefit your kiddos so much to have the Storytime and follow-up skills as a daily part of their learning.

I would wait to decide what to do next until you are within 8 weeks of finishing Bigger Hearts.

In looking ahead, I would honestly wait until you are within 8 weeks of finishing Bigger to decide what to do next. This is because kiddos grow and change so much in a year’s time. By the end of Bigger, we will have a better idea of whether they should just head into Preparing, or whether they can make the jump to CTC. Even if they need to head into Preparing, doing the guide fully along with the readings will provide a very different experience from simply reading the books aloud. Not to mention it would be a terrific stepping stone for your kiddos to do the “I” boxes in Preparing by reading their own assigned material (which they may be able to do in a year’s time).

Whether you use Preparing or CTC next, your next step after Bigger will be a good one.

Kiddos often like hearing stories more than once, and Preparing is a whirlwind tour through all of world history. There is so much content that it actually would be good to cover it again. So, either way your next step after Bigger will be a good one. For now, I would just settle into Bigger and enjoy the journey. There are so many skills wound within Bigger that I think you will have a good year of growth ahead of your twins.

Blessings,
Carrie

Should we combine U.S. History I and II to have a lighter 12th grade year?

Dear Carrie

Should I combine U.S. History I and U.S. History II, so my son’s 12th grade year is lighter and he can pursue other interests?

Dear Carrie,

My son is currently doing Heart of Dakota‘s World History for 10th grade and enjoying it! Contemplating his next year, however, I’m wondering if it’s possible to combine the U.S. History I and II history portion? Our state only requires (1) credit of American History. While I’m sure the material is worth spending multiple years on, my son is anticipating a lighter course load his senior year. He wants some time to pursue other interests. If this is inadvisable, do you have any other suggestion? Thank you in advance!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Combine U.S. History I and II for a Lighter Year and to Pursue Other Interests Or Not”

Dear “Ms. Combine U.S. History I and II for a Lighter Year and to Pursue Other Interests Or Not,”

Many states require only 1 year of American History. Often that year of history does not even have to cover all of American History, making it fine from the state’s perspective to cover only a portion of American History as both the USI and USII guides do. This means that it would be fine to use either USI or USII to fulfill your state requirements. College requirements are often more rigorous than state requirements, so you may wish to check the requirements for any colleges your son may be considering before making any decisions.

I would suggest your son does U.S. History I next.

If your son is doing World History, I would be inclined to suggest he go into USI next. This will give him needed credits in Government and in American Literature, along with the required credit he needs in American History. It would also give him the needed Chemistry credit and allow him to continue along the foreign language path. In addition, he would be able to complete the New Testament Survey for Bible (after doing the Old Testament Survey in World History).

I like the options this leaves for your son’s 12th grade year.

I like that this choice leaves your options open for his senior year when he gets there. Much can change between a student’s junior and senior year. The USII guide has 1/2 less of a credit (with 6 1/2 possible credits) than the USI guide (with 7 possible credits). This makes the USII guide less time consuming than USI. The science is also lighter in USII with its astronomy/geology/paleontology focus instead of the more math-based Chemisty in USI.

I would not advise combining U.S. History I and II.

I wouldn’t advise trying to combine USI and USII for history, as it would be way too heavy both in volume and required output. You would also lose the connections by pushing through too much material too quickly. I will share that my two oldest sons truly enjoyed completing USII for their senior years. Since by the time they reach their senior year students (who have come up through HOD) have honed their reading, writing, critical thinking, and independent work skills, the senior year feels easier overall than previous years. It is a time of reaping what has been sown.

We purposefully front-load  a student’s credits the first 3 years.

At HOD, we choose to front-load a student’s credits the first three years of high school to be sure students are earning needed credits right from the beginning. This helps make the senior year less stressful and more enjoyable. From a personal standpoint, I would hesitate to miss the USII guide if at all possible, simply because there is such wonderful training for life in the Economics and Finance options, along with the apologetics course for Bible and the Speech course. The books in the literature study are not to be missed in my opinion, and the history part of the course is so helpful in understanding the times we live in today.

The science course may be a student’s last opportunity to know how to refute science that does not align with God’s Word. Simply being able to logically explain the creation-based perspective as adults when they visit museums, national parks, and planetariums makes doing the Astronomy/Geology/Paleontology course worthwhile! I pray this will help as you ponder your options! It is exciting to see students grow and mature. Congratulations on the hard work that has led to this point with your son!!

Blessings,
Carrie