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

 

Are you tempted to hibernate during this winter season?

Teaching Tip:

Are you tempted to hibernate during this winter season?

This time of year in South Dakota can really be a time when we’re tempted to be on the couch and hibernate! However, with 4 boys in our family, movement is a necessity.

A scheduled recess after lunch gets the kids moving.

We’ve found that it really helps to have a scheduled recess right after lunch. This works well because lunch is a time when we are all sitting down together for a scheduled break already.

Recess can be outdoors.

If we are heading outside, lunchtime is usually the warmest part of the day. So, after lunch is an ideal time to head outside. When our boys were younger, we told them unless it was raining, they would be going outside for recess no matter what. This cut down on the discussion as to whether it was too cold (or in the spring/summer too hot) to be outside. We just made sure to dress appropriately for the weather.

Recess can be indoors.

As our boys have gotten older, we have also added indoor recess options. The boys play ring toss, beanbag toss, mini-basketball, bulzibucket, mini-frisbee golf, ramp shot, nerf guns, etc. Sometimes they play board games.

A recess makes the rest of the day go better.

A non-negotiable recess time really makes the rest of our day go so much better. Our boys look forward to being together for recess. Even our older boys enjoy the break from school! So, how about you? Do you make sure your kiddos have a recess break as a part of their day? Try it and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

Kids Listening to Music While Doing Their Work

Dear Carrie

What are your thoughts on your kids listening to music while doing their work?

My kids listen to their own music playlists. I would prefer classical music, if anything. I find it distracting, personally. How can you fully concentrate on something you are reading with music that has words? I guess my question is, what are your thoughts on your kids listening to music while doing their work?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me with Kids Wanting to Listen to Music While Doing Their Work”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with Kids Wanting to Listen to Music While Doing Their Work,”

This is a great question and is one we have grappled with too over many years of homeschooling! We give our boys a lot more autonomy in this area once they get to high school. Prior to the student reaching the high school years, my husband and I have decided that music is distracting to the rest of us who are nearby, often slows the student down, makes the student less able to listen to the teacher’s voice, and also often affects the child’s work negatively causing them to lose attention to detail and rush through their work to get to the music.

High school marks a change in our response to our kids listening to music while doing work.

Prior to high school, we have our boys dock their iPods during school hours. Once they get to the early years of high school, we let them listen to music during inspirational type subjects. When they get to the later years of high school, we don’t monitor it and let them choose what they think is best as to when they listen to music and when they do not. They are required to wear ear buds/headphones when listening. With these few guidelines, we have had good success with making music an option during schoolwork.

Blessings,
Carrie

Do you have a plan for checking school work?

Teaching Tip:

Do you have a plan for checking school work?

It is a good idea to have a plan for checking school work as part of your school day. Otherwise, the work will just pile up and may never get checked!

How do you handle checking work for younger students?

At our house, with our younger kiddos, we just check their work as we go through the day. We have them make needed corrections right away. They put away their work and their books as soon as they finish. This helps keep the clutter down.

How do you handle checking work for older students?

With our older kiddos, who have more independent subjects, we needed a more organized approach to checking work. So, we assigned each student a separate place on the kitchen counter to pile his completed work. Our older kiddos hand their work in open to the page that needs checking or closed with a sticky note marking the page. Our older boys also hand in any needed answer keys from the answer key shelf for us to use in checking.

Once work is checked, what happens next?

When we check something, we mark any errors. If there are few to no errors, we give the page a star or a grade. Then, we place the checked work in a new pile in a different spot. At our house, we move work from the counter to the right of the oven to the counter to the left of the oven. This provides an easy way for our boys to see what work has been checked.

How does this method allow us to stay on top of checking?

In this way, we can check work throughout the day as time allows. Our boys can see at a glance, depending on which side of the counter something is on, if their work is checked. Before putting work away, our boys make any needed corrections. Then, they either show us the corrections or turn the work in to be checked again. This helps us stay on top of the checking and keeps clutter to a minimum. It also keeps us from skipping the checking, as the piles are there as a reminder!

Ponder your plan for checking work.

Take a few moments to ponder your plan for checking work. A new plan might really change how you feel about the clutter of school work at your house. Then, try your plan and see if it helps your day go more smoothly!

Blessings,
Carrie