How to Teach Bigger Hearts for His Glory on a 4 Day Schedule

Dear Carrie

How would you suggest doing Bigger Hearts for His Glory on a 4 day schedule?

Dear Carrie,

I’m considering using Bigger Hearts for His Glory 4 days a week instead of 5 days a week. How would you suggest doing Bigger Hearts for His Glory on a 4 day schedule?

Sincerely,
“Four Days Only Please in Northwest MO”

Dear “Four Days Only Please in Northwest MO,”

As you ponder what will work best for your family, I want to share a few things for your consideration. Each guide is designed to have a daily workload that is appropriate for the skill level of your student. So, each day of plans is written with a careful balance in mind of visual, kinesthetic, and auditory assignments. Likewise, creative and more structured assignments are balanced within a school day. Also, activities on the left side intertwine together within a day of school to allow kiddos to make connections. Even some of the activities from the right side of the guide have planned connections such as this as well.

Shifting boxes around causes loss of intended balance and connections.

When you shift boxes around, you lose the carefully timed workload, balance of skills, and connections designed to happen effortlessly. To show you what I mean, I’ll share this example. Imagine that you are a classroom teacher in a Christian school. Each week you spend your entire weekend and many nights writing a week of plans for your class. You work to be sure that each activity has a special purpose in that particular day. Carefully you plan things from the history reading or the Bible or science that you desire your kiddos to connect. As you arrive on Monday, you learn of a two hour assembly being scheduled, taking place during your written plans. So, you begin shifting the plans, trying to keep what was really important together. You can do this fairly well because you wrote the plans. Now, later in the week there is a fire drill, and the plans shift again. Later in the week the guidance counselor stops in to talk about playground troubles, and more shifting occurs. By the week’s end, how well do you think those original lesson plans are functioning? How cohesive are they at this point? You sigh, and hope the next week will be better.

Shifting boxes around causes loss of the cohesiveness of following the 2-page spread of plans.

However, if you do this shifting every week with Heart of Dakota, you can quickly see what is lost! No longer can your kiddos just follow the two-page spread and know when the boxes are checked they are done. No longer do you view your school day that way either, as you are constantly squeezing more into less time. At that point, you are pretty much rewriting the plans in a way they were not designed to be taught. Moms who have shifted too many things in the plans are often on different days of plans in many areas. They share their days feel disjointed instead of cohesive, and their kiddos are completely confused as to where they are.

Homeschooling is a journey of many years rather than a race to the finish line.

I share this not to discourage you, but rather to encourage you with some wisdom I’ve gained through the years. As we homeschool our kiddos, we have to ask what it is we are racing to do? Why must we approach schooling in a way that has us cramming more into fewer days? Homeschooling is a journey that goes on for many years. It is not a race to the finish line, but rather it requires steady progress forward.

Give your family every chance to succeed with Bigger Hearts… by using it the way it was written.

So, you have a child in Bigger…, and you need a 4 day schedule? Why not just teach a day within in a day? On your day off, simply set the guide aside. Then, when you return to your school, pick the guide up where you left off and go forward. Once you get to Preparing Hearts… on up, you will switch to a 4 day plan anyway. So, why not give your family every chance to succeed with Bigger Hearts… by using it the way it was written? You always want to leave your kiddos begging for more in the early years, rather than leaving them (and you) barely getting done. Enjoy the younger years, when the school day isn’t so long, because it will get longer soon enough!

Blessings to you as you ponder,
Carrie

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Heart of Dakota

Are you training your older children to read from the guide?

Teaching Tip

This is the next post in our series of things to check if your school day seems too long. I know this can happen to any of us, and hopefully these tips may help!

Are you training your children in Preparing Hearts on up to read directly from the Heart of Dakota guide?

In the guides from Preparing Hearts on up, coding appears in each box of the daily plans. This code guides you in the suggested level of independence for each box. I = Independent, S = Semi-Independent, and T = Teacher Directed. Moving your child to take over the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes takes training. Reading right from the guide is an important step in that training.

Are you treating the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes like ‘T’ boxes?

Eventually, your student should do the ‘I’ boxes independently and the ‘S’ boxes semi-independently. This includes reading directions from the guide independently and following them. If you are treating the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes like ‘T’ boxes, this will add significant time to your day. It will also leave your child without the stepping stones he needs to be prepared for the level of independence expected in the next guide.

You may also want to read these previous teaching tips about independence:

Do you allow your children to have the guide in hand as they work?

As parents, we often view any homeschool guide as ours! To hand the guide to our child seems like a foreign idea. Yet, the Heart of Dakota guides are written for you to do just that! Preparing Hearts is written partly to the student. Each successive Heart of Dakota guide is written more and more to the student. We intend for the child to have the guide in hand while he works.

If your student does not have the guide in hand, the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes will be very difficult!

Working without a guide in hand leaves the child striving to remember a lengthy list of directions. If the student cannot remember the directions, he will be running back to the guide often. If you summarize or list directions instead of allowing the student to have the guide, you add time to your day. Plus, the student must decipher your interpretation of the guide’s directions. A dual set of directions and expectations is always confusing! Simply allowing your student to have the guide in hand fixes these problems.

What are two crucial steps for success with the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes?

Train your kiddos to read from the guide early and often. Allow your students to have the guide in hand as they work. These two steps are crucial to being able to do the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes as written. Reading and following directions independently pays big dividends not just within Heart of Dakota, but all throughout life. So, begin training your children to read from the guide today, and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

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Heart of Dakota

Please Explain How to Set Up a Routine Instead of a Schedule

Dear Carrie

If I need a routine instead of a schedule, how do I go about setting that up?

Dear Carrie,

I am having trouble trying to stick to my homeschool schedule. Part of my problem is I think I need more of a routine instead of a schedule. The times are driving me up a wall. I don’t like my schedule telling me I have to do such and such at 10:15. Sometimes at 10:10, the baby wakes early, the toddler needs a diaper change, and the 4 year has a tantrum!!! But, that is the way my scheduling book says to do it. So, that is what I’ve been trying to do it. It isn’t working! I am wondering if I should try more of a routine instead of a set schedule? What do you think? If I do prefer a routine to a schedule, how do I go about setting it up?

Sincerely,
“Please Explain Setting Up a Routine Versus a Schedule”

Dear “Please Explain Setting Up a Routine Versus a Schedule,”

What a great question! I agree that I begin with a schedule and move to a routine. Making the schedule helps me be sure I will be available for the teaching times I have planned during the day. It also helps me make sure not everyone will need me at once (which can quickly descend into chaos)! During the first several weeks, I make sure I pay attention to how much time each subject really takes. Then, I can know I’m allowing enough time for subjects (or not allowing too much time, which leads to dawdling). Knowing how much time each subject SHOULD take, helps me know what I’m asking my kiddos to do is reasonable.

Schedule independent things back-to-back last in the day.

Scheduling several independent things back-to-back for my older kiddos last in the day has been so helpful! This gives them independent things they can work on if they finish early or if they have to wait a bit for me. For more information about the independent things in Heart of Dakota, check out last week’s post Are you having your child work toward the suggested level of independence in Heart of Dakota? Scheduling independent things last (after lunch) still allows my boys to follow their morning routine or schedule as planned. This way, they don’t interrupt my flow to the day. It allows their after lunch subjects to be done whenever they finish early with something in the morning. So, they might not finish that particular after lunch subject in one sitting. Rather, they might do it in bits throughout the morning as time allows. Many times, my boys have finished those after lunch subjects earlier in the day to be done by lunch. This way they don’t have any wasted time, if I’m not available.

Make sure the little ones are engaged during bigger teaching blocks.

I also make sure when designing my original schedule that the little ones are engaged during my bigger teaching blocks. I don’t mind interruptions so much when we’re doing things like handwriting, spelling, grammar, and math in the younger years. However, when I’m setting aside time for something like the left side of Beyond…, I want to teach without interruptions. Or, when we’re doing phonics or any subject that is tough for a certain child, I don’t want any interruptions. So, I guard my uninterrupted teaching time carefully. This means the flow to everyone’s day must stay the same throughout the year. If my older kiddos jump around in any order in their schedule, then my uninterrupted teaching time is gone too. Hope that makes sense!

Make the schedule, but follow the order to have a routine.

So, I make the schedule and follow the order. I use the times as a gauge of whether we need to move along a bit more quickly or not. We do follow the same start-time everyday and try to have lunch at a similar time each day. Then, we just move through the rest of the items on the schedule in order, finishing when we do. Below, I’ll post the links on our Heart of Dakota Message Board for some of my past schedules and/or routines.

Here are links for some of our past schedules/routines and our “Let’s Share Our Schedules” thread.

Blessings,
Carrie

PS – For those of you who like to use the app Bloglovin, we wanted to let you know that we have added our blog to this site.

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Heart of Dakota

Are you having your child work toward the suggested level of independence in Heart of Dakota?

Teaching Tip

This is the next installment in our series of posts about things to check if your school day seems to be running longer than you would like. I know this can happen to any of us, and hopefully these tips may help!

Are you working toward the suggested level of independence noted for each box in the daily plans?

In the guides from Preparing Hearts on up, each box of the daily plans is coded ‘I,’ ‘S,’ or ‘T.’ This helpful code is meant to guide you in the level of independence you can expect from your child for that box of plans. I = Independent, S = Semi-Independent, and T = Teacher Directed.

Understanding the code will save you time.

If you are thinking that the ‘I’ boxes mean that the child is totally independent and you have no role in the box, this is a misunderstanding. ‘I’ means the child can complete the box “Independently,” but independent work also needs to be checked. So, I always go over all of the ‘I’ boxes with my child. I discus what is in the box and check any work done independently. This is a similar situation to when a classroom teacher assigns homework to be done independently at home. Imagine how quickly a child would quit doing homework well, or doing it at all, if it were never checked!

Following the code will save you time!

If you are having your child do the ‘S’ (Semi-Independent) or the ‘T’ (Teacher-Directed) boxes without you, you will likely find that it adds time to your day. This is because the ‘S’ and ‘T’ boxes are written with the expectation that the teacher is helping or guiding the student. Assigning the student to do these boxes on his/her own often results in problems during work time or mistakes that aren’t caught until later and need to be fixed. ‘S’ and ‘T’ boxes are harder and require more parent help. I compensate for this by sticking close to my kiddos during ‘S’ boxes, popping in at the beginning or middle to check progress. For the ‘T’ boxes, I am always present, as many of these boxes are discussion based.

Check to see that you are following the code.

You may want to check the way you are handling each box in your Heart of Dakota guide. Doing this will help you be more effective overall. The ‘S’, ‘T’, and ‘I’ codes are a good guideline for me on how to handle each box. Hopefully they will be for you too! Try following the code, and see if it helps your day run more smoothly.

Blessings,
Carrie

PS – You can check out the following previous tips as well:

Do You Have an Efficient Chore Routine?

Have a Written Routine and Provide it to Your Child

Have a Routine for Breakfast and Lunch

Is Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory meaty enough for 2nd grade?

Pondering Placement

Is Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory meaty enough for 2nd grade?

Question:
Hello to the Austin Family!

I’m planning to start Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory when my son starts 2nd grade. I’ve read some reviews from folks who have used it for 1st grade, but how about using it for 2nd grade? Is it meaty enough? How did your 7-8 year olds like it?

Thanks so much!!

Reply:
I actually used Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory with two of my sons for second grade. I will say we all thoroughly enjoyed it. We really did find that the age range was right on target for us. It also provided a great foundation for Bigger Hearts for His Glory, which we used as a follow-up for third grade.

The level 2 spelling list and level 2 book pack works well to “up” the difficulty of Beyond Little Hearts.

For Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, my sons did the Level 2 spelling lists in the back of the guide. They used the last half of the math lessons in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory for Singapore 1B and then moved on to the Appendix schedule for Singapore 2A for the second half of the year. Drawn into the Heart of Reading Level 2/3 with the more difficult books in the Level 2 book pack worked well for reading instruction.

Our sons were also able to read all of the science selections themselves, which they really loved (and I loved their growing independence). Likewise, they read some of the history selections to themselves (and could have read even more, except I wanted to keep that cuddle up and read time with me). They were able to copy all of the poems each week by doing a stanza or so each day. At the end of the year  they ended up with a beautiful poetry notebook.

Beyond Little Hearts works well for either a first or a second grade program. 

We found the once a week grammar lessons to be a short and sweet introduction to the more formal Rod and Staff grammar used in Bigger Hearts for His Glory. The minimal writing required in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory was a plus for us. Then my sons were old enough to handle the more difficult writing required in Bigger Hearts for His Glory. Even my oldest son listened in and enjoyed the read-alouds from the Storytime part of Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, since we read them aloud at lunchtime.

So, Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory works well for either a first or a second grade program. Be sure to take a moment to look at the placement chart on our site if you haven’t. That is the best way to tell which program will suit your son best.

For proper math placement, you can use the free and accurate printable math placement tests for Singapore Primary Mathematics 3rd and U.S. Edition.

As always, our family carries all of the needed resources for Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. You can check out these resources on our Heart of Dakota website here.

Or, just give us a call at 605-428-4068, and we’d be happy to help with any further questions. Please do leave us a message if we don’t answer right away, as we will probably be homeschooling ourselves!!! We usually return phone calls within 48 hours.

Blessings,
Carrie