Nine year old daughter – finish Beyond or start Bigger?

Pondering Placement

Placement Advice for My 9 yo Daughter 

Hello to Heart of Dakota! I hope you can help me! I need some placement advice for my 9 yo daughter. She is currently placed in Beyond…, and we are completing Unit 20. I feel like I have messed up her elementary years, so I am looking at the placement chart and seeking advice. She has struggled greatly with reading since we started, but she is working through the emerging readers now. We are currently reading the Christian Liberty Nature Reader. She now reads independently American Girl books and Magic Treehouse books, usually on her own in 2-3 days.

A Closer Look at Her Placement for Language Arts and Math

As for writing, she copies one stanza of the Beyond poem a day in about 10 minutes. Writing and copying is her least favorite part of school. Part of me wonders if it is because I have pushed her too much. I tend to be quite the perfectionist, so if she writes something that isn’t her best, I make her write it over. We are currently working through Spelling List 1 (Unit 20). As for language arts, we are working through the activities in the Beyond guide. And for math, I have intended to buy the Bigger guide and Singapore 2A and 2B. But, life circumstances put this on the back burner.

So, should I finish Beyond…, or start Bigger?

As for the length of the school day, it seems appropriate. She is my very creative child, so she tends to drag the “fun” activities out. I tend to save those for last. She LOVES Beyond, and her favorite part of the day is history and storytime.  So, should I continue to plug along with Beyond until we finish? Thanks in advance for your advice!

Carrie’s Reply:

Thanks so much for taking time to share about your daughter in regard to the placement chart! It really helps to gain an even fuller picture of your daughter’s skill level in various areas. I think from what you’ve shared, I see two possible options. Keeping in mind the fact that she is 9 and also keeping in mind her current skill level, I do think that she could begin Bigger Hearts now. I think it would stretch her in a good way.

She sounds ready to begin Bigger Hearts overall!

She may have to ease into some of the copywork length-wise, and you would have to be prepared to help her with the vocabulary cards and the notebooking assignments quite a bit, but that is true for most kiddos beginning Bigger Hearts. You could go half-speed for a little while to ease her into the guide, but then I do think it would be a good idea to pop up to full speed within a month or two if at all possible.

This would allow you to get her started on her English, get her going on the math she needs, and address her growth in reading. She would do List 2 in spelling, just beginning with the first set of words as directed in the plans.

But, a second option is to finish Beyond, but add to the language arts and math.

The second option I see, if you do not desire to begin Bigger Hearts now, is to add English 2 (doing a lesson a day) and Singapore 2A/2B to Beyond. You will also be adding DITHR to Beyond coming up as your daughter finishes the Emerging Reader set. This would be a back-up option if you feel that Bigger would be too big of a jump.

Typically, we do not recommend skipping forward in a guide, but with the gains that your daughter has made in reading and writing, and in looking at the placement chart with fresh eyes based on her age, I would say that your situation is an exception and your daughter could do Bigger Hearts if you feel it is best.

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

Tired and Overwhelmed Young Homeschool Mom Asking for Help

Dear Carrie,

I am a young overwhelmed homeschool mom who needs some tips to help us be more productive with homeschooling. My daughter is in 1st grade in Heart of Dakota now. Last year I overbooked us with too many extracurricular activities. Lesson learned! This year we bought a house, moved, had a baby, and just sold our first home on Friday. But, I feel like I am drowning and cannot accomplish much of anything. My children are 7, 3, and 3 months. I have made reading and math a priority, but I cannot seem to keep us disciplined to do Little Hearts full-speed on a daily basis. She might even be ready for Beyond…, but I’m afraid to introduce a guide that takes longer when we cannot even finish LHFHG.

I think the biggest problem area for us is that I do not start my day early enough. I am NOT a morning person, and the waking every 3 hours to nurse does not help. My shower in the morning is my coffee, but that puts an even later start to the morning. Meal planning and prepping is another big drain! It seems to take at least 1-1.5 hrs to get everyone fed and the dishes cleaned after every meal. And dinners take longer! My oldest loves Heart of Dakota when we get to it! I’d love to start my 3 yo with Little Hands… when she turns 4 yo soon. Thank you in advance from a very tired and overwhelmed mommy!

Sincerely,

“Please Help This Tired and Overwhelmed Mommy Make Time for Homeschooling”

 

Dear “Please Help This Tired and Overwhelmed Mommy Make Time for Homeschooling,”

Thank you for sharing here! My tips vary a bit due to your specific situation, but I want to encourage you! Small changes make big gains! Since you’ve just moved and have a new little one, you are in a transition phase in life. With this in mind, I would seek to do the following:

Not everyone is a morning person!
  1. Accept that you are not a morning person. I am not one either. With this in mind, set a time that you can realistically begin school each day, and then stick to it. I began school at 9:00 or 9:30 for many years (until my older sons, who are more morning-focused workers could get up on their own and begin without me)!
Focus on half-speed LHFHG for 45 minutes by setting aside distractions.
  1. Make sure that when you begin school you are focused on school. Set aside the distractions (i.e. mess, phone ringing, doorbell ringing, laundry, meals, texting, computer) as much as possible. For now, I would downsize to half-speed LHFHG. Do the left page one day and the right side the next. Do this until your house gets in order. It will only take 45 min. a day this way, and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel! You can still do reading every day but make sure that it takes 15 min. or less to do reading. You can alternate days of math, doing it every other day for now until your house gets into shape. Can you set aside everything except school and caring for your little ones for 45 min. a day? Definitely. At the end of the year, you can assess again and see if she is ready for Beyond. For now, use the materials that you already have and work on moving through LHFHG steadily until year end. Think of this as much about routine as it is about the skills.
You can start Little Hands… half-speed with your little one.
  1. When you get ready to start your little one on LHTH, do it half-speed too. This means 3-4 boxes one day and the other 3-4 the next day. This will add 15 min. to your day. Can you school for an hour a day total every day? Yes! Manageable goals done every day mean steady progress forward. This is better than random forward motion.
Plan how your kiddos will spend the rest of their day to buy yourself extra time for other tasks.
  1. Next, have some sort of plan every 30-45 min. or so for your kiddos throughout the rest of the day. This may sound exhausting, but in reality it will save your sanity. List all of the things each child does throughout the day, and make a loose schedule for each child to keep them rotating along through things during the day (changing every 30-45 min). Use your timer to time their activities and have them clean up when the timer rings. Doing this will buy you 30 min. here and there throughout the day that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
Routine breakfasts and lunches save the day!
  1. Make a routine easy breakfast menu that is the same every week for Mon-Fri. Do the same for lunch. Type it and post it on the fridge. Enlist your older child to help make breakfast and lunch. Keep the menu easy prep-wise and clean-up wise. Having the same menu each week for breakfast and lunch helps you know what to shop for and helps your kiddos know what to get out when it is time to eat. It will cut down significant time in preparation and clean up too. Make dinner your bigger meal and use your crock pot for that as much as possible to save you prep. before dinner. Assign each child a “set the table” and a “clean-up after meals” chore(s) to do. Keep the chores the same all the time, so your kiddos get good at them and always know what “their” chores are to do automatically.
This is a good time to set routines that help get your house and homeschooling in order!
  1. Think of this time as a time to get your house in order, grow your baby up a bit, set some routines in place, and figure out how to calm the chaos. Start schooling steadily at a similar (realistic) time every day and school in a similar order. If you do this for even a week or two, you’ll begin to see the benefits! Make sure you allow yourself to sleep when you can. Think of this as a plan you’re striving to work up to! You can do this!!!

 

Blessings,

Carrie

P.S. Please check out our new youtube video that has an overview of Little Hands to Heaven!  Please ‘like’ and ‘subscribe’ to help us become ‘branded!’  Thanks!!!

Summer is a great time to work on math fact practice

Teaching Tip 

Summer is a great time to work on math fact practice.

Summer is a good time to work on firming up needed skills. Math fact practice is an easy skill to work into your summer. It is important for kiddos to memorize their addition facts and their multiplication facts. Once children know their addition and multiplication facts, they often automatically know their subtraction and division facts.

When should children learn their math facts?

Public schools often have little ones learning their addition facts as early as first grade. They typically have students learning their multiplication facts as early as third grade. I tend to be on the later side for working on memorization of facts. I usually wait until the end of second grade or third grade to make sure kiddos have their addition facts down. I’ll wait until the end of fourth or even fifth grade for drill of multiplication facts.

Why wait to drill the math facts?

I tend to wait for several reasons. First, I want to give the child every chance to learn these facts on his/her own through the math curriculum. Second, I want the child to see the need for learning the facts to solve math problems more quickly. Third, I want the child to understand the “why” behind the “how,” or the meaning of what he/she is memorizing. Whenever your child learns his/her facts, summer is a great time to work on this important area.

How can you make easy flashcards for drilling your child?

One easy way to do this is to cut index cards in half. Use the cut cards to make a set of addition cards for the 0’s. Make separate cards for 0+1, 0+2, 0+3, 0+4, 0+5, 0+6… all the way up to 0+12. Use a black marker on a white card to write the facts. Then, use a pencil to very lightly write the answer on the back of the card. To conceal the answer better, you can put a small piece of masking tape on the back of the card. Then, write the answer lightly in pencil on top of the tape. After your child has learned the 0’s set, make a set of cards like this for the 1’s. Continue making sets of cards for the 2’s, 3’s, and so on…up through the 12’s.

What simple process can you use to help your child learn the facts?

Set a time limit that your child must meet to “pass” the set of cards. 15-20 seconds is a good range, depending on the child. Time your child in passing the 0’s. Give an appropriate small reward once the child passes the 0’s. Then, move on to the 1’s. This same process works well for memorizing multiplication facts. Have the child practice only one set of cards each day and come to you when ready to test.

How can you motivate your child to learn the facts?

We paid our kiddos a quarter each time they passed a set of cards. We gave them a dollar upon completion of all 12 sets of cards. You can structure this any way that works for you.

What are the benefits of this method of fact memorization?

This method of memorization has several benefits. Memorizing a small set of cards at a time that follow a pattern is so helpful. Plus, the black writing on the white card really impresses the fact’s image in the child’s memory bank. Once the cards are made, you can save them for future kiddos! Try it and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

Nervous About Homeschooling in High School to Be Ready for College

Dear Carrie

I love Heart of Dakota and am excited by what I see is to come each year as we progress!  I especially see much progress now that I have each of my students placed properly, which is exciting to me! However, when I look far ahead, I get nervous about homeschooling in high school so my students are ready for college. So, how does HOD prepare students for college? How does HOD high school take a student from simply doing what is planned to being able to take a syllabus and knowing how to complete work more independently?  Thanks in advance for taking time to calm my nerves about homeschooling in high school!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Nervous About Homeschooling in High School”

Dear “Ms. Nervous About Homeschooling in High School,”

This is such an important topic that is near and dear to my heart!  Many truly amazing homeschool moms feel they cannot homeschool through high school.  Let me put your fears to rest! You can, and Heart of Dakota can be your best help!  I’ll begin by sharing that at HOD it is definitely our desire to prepare kiddos as best as possible for college, should the Lord lay it upon their hearts to go. Our guides are written to help students earn needed credits expected by most colleges.

More Than Enough Credits

We take a 4 x 4 +2 approach to this by including more than 4 social sciences (i.e. geography, world history, two years of American history, government, economics), 4 years of English/composition, 4 years of math, 4 years of science with lab, and 2 years of foreign language. We also include 4 years of Bible and additional courses beyond that such as Health, Fine Arts, Logic, World Religions and Cultures, Speech, etc. This is our first step toward making sure students are adequately prepared for what lies ahead.

Plans encourage independence, initiative, responsibility, and time management.

Students gain independence in a variety of skills as they move through the HOD Guides. They must accomplish a wide range of tasks each day with minimal supervision. Getting behind has its natural consequences as the work load continues to move forward daily. The guide does not adjust itself for students who are not completing their work on time. So, the plans set goals for the day, and the students must figure out how to meet them. Simply telling students what to do does not equate to students doing it! Instead, completing assignments on time requires initiative, planning, time management, diligence, and follow-through (all essential college skills). Consider that the HOD guide’s directions are a training ground where students learn essential skills needed for success in life!

Reading and writing skills are rigorous and train students well for college requirements.

Another area in which HOD shines is in its level of required reading and writing each day. The guides are rigorous in their expectations in these two areas.  So, students can readily do the two most common portions of any college level class. They can readily read and write, manage their time well, and independently incrementally complete work!  Having these skills intact helps students have an easier transition into meeting college requirements.

Deep thinking is encouraged as well.

Our guides also require students to think deeply about a variety of areas, often foregoing the easy route and opting for assignments that require higher level thinking which must be put into words. Years of oral and written narration practice prepare kiddos to put thoughts from their mind into words and/or onto paper cohesively and creatively.

Long-term projects help students learn to budget their time over multiple days and weeks.

This brings us to the question of long-term projects and their place within the curriculum. I do believe that long-term projects are good as students learn to budget their time over multiple days and weeks. As such, we have included projects in every guide leading up to the high school guides, spreading one project over a week or longer in each guide. Drawn into the Heart of Reading also has projects at the end of each unit. We have included long-term projects in all of our high school guides as well.

College will be an adjustment, but our goal is to make that adjustment as seamless as possible.

College will certainly be an adjustment! But, our goal is to make that adjustment as seamless as possible. Two of my own sons are doing online courses for college right now. They have transitioned very well. My sons find college to be easier than their high school courses in some ways! Though they are both pursuing very different majors, they both use their time well! They quite naturally figure out how much to study each day, so they are prepared to finish on time.

I firmly believe HOD prepares kiddos for the needed skills required in college. Students who do the guides as written should find themselves able to adjust to the expectations college brings. I also believe that for students who do not go on to college, the well-rounded education received within HOD will help them all throughout life in whatever they pursue!

“Head” and “Heart” knowledge are both so important!

I cannot conclude without mentioning that the high school years are very important years for molding our students’ character, strengthening their faith, directing their attention to God’s Word, pouring their hearts into living as Christ desires, and seeking God’s will for their future. These are the goals that matter for eternity. This is why the HOD high school guides regularly address these heart issues. If we lose are children’s hearts in the pursuit of academics, what have we gained? Head knowledge does not equate to heart knowledge. So, we must address both! This was a priority from start to finish in writing our guides.  I pray our graduates are strong in both ‘head’ and ‘heart’ knowledge, all to the glory of the Lord!

Blessings,
Carrie

P.S.  To read about some of our graduates who have been featured in our Heart of Dakota Graduate Spotlight, click on the links below and arrow down in the link to read about…

Garret

Gabrielle

Tanner and Taylor

Wyatt

Isaac and Eva

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

Does everyone homeschool year-round?