HOD Guides: A Journey to Enjoy Not a Race to Complete

Teaching Tip

Think of the Heart of Dakota guides as a journey to enjoy rather than a race to complete.

Are you getting closer to the end of your school year? If so, you may feel like rushing or cramming things in to finish your guide by a designated time. I encourage you to resist that urge. Instead, think of the sequence of Heart of Dakota guides as a journey to be enjoyed each step of the way. One guide’s skills will prepare your child well for the next guide to come. So, it’s best to use each guide to its fullest along the way.

Do you feel like rushing or doubling up days to finish your guide on time?

You may have had a year full of life’s unexpected surprises, or maybe you began Heart of Dakota later in your year. Either way, there is little benefit to doubling up days or doing multiple days in one in order to finish “on-time.” However, there is a huge benefit to solidly teaching the skills that are wound within each guide one day at a time. This steady progress forward will help students practice and form skills they will need life-long!

So what should you do if you find yourself “behind” in your progress by “year-end”?

First of all, accept where you truly are in the guide. No amount of rushing will change that fact. Second, make a realistic plan to teach a day within a day until your designated break date. During your break, reassess whether your children are still correctly placed in their current guide(s). Most likely, their current placement will still be best. If you have gotten very far off track for an extended period of time, it is possible that your children may need to be placed in a different guide. Third, after your break, either pick the guide back up where you left off or begin your new guide(s). Steady progress forward pays big dividends.

What did our family do when we were “behind”?

I share this tip with you, because I know from personal experience what it’s like to be “behind.”

In one of our years of schooling, we were behind by 10 weeks by year-end. The year had started with some medical challenges that ground our year to a halt before it even began! My husband finally stepped in and set a finish date for school regardless of where we were in the guide. During our break, we reassessed our boys’ placements. Our older sons needed to move forward to a new guide. So, after our break, they did. Our younger sons needed to keep going in their current guides. So, after our break, they did. For our younger sons, we just picked their guides back up where they had left off. Once this decision was made, I felt a huge sense of relief! We felt like we had done what was best for our boys in a difficult year.

We would love to help you too!

If you need help deciding whether your children are correctly placed for the coming year, please contact us! We would love to help!!

Blessings,
Carrie

Why Doesn’t Heart of Dakota Use a Weekly Grid for Their Lesson Plan Format?

Parent and Student Roles in Homeschooling Work with Heart of Dakota

Help for a Child Who Has a Math Disability

Pondering Placement

Question: Hello to the Austin family! My 11 yo son is in Preparing… in Heart of Dakota now and doing great going full-speed! However, math is another story.  Could you please help me with placement in Heart of Dakota’s Singapore Math for my son with a math disability?

A Little Background on His Math Struggles

My 11 yo son used another math program (ACE) this year and has 1 ½ books left before he is done with the 2nd grade level. This has not been the best math curriculum for him. But, we used it as he could do it by himself, due to other time constraints I had. I now have more time to spend with him on the subjects in which he struggles. I am considering the Singapore math Heart of Dakota recommends. My question is if Singapore can be used successfully with a child who has a math disability? Thank you for help in pondering this placement!

Reply:  Thanks for sharing about your son’s math background!

This is an interesting dilemma. With the age of your son in mind, and considering the challenges he has had in math thus far, Singapore Primary Math could work well. The reason for this is because it is easier to move at a varying and/or accelerated pace through Singapore than it is with other programs that are more lock-step and have large volumes of daily work for each level.

Be sure to give the Singapore Math placement test first!

Singapore Math has a free and accurate placement test.  I would definitely give him the placement test, by clicking here.  Be sure to give him the placement test for the Primary U.S. 3rd Edition. I would begin with the 2A test and see how he does. I would be inclined to think he might begin in 2B, but with testing you will know better.

Be sure to assist your son during math time by sitting near him and drawing his attention to the word bubbles!

Since math is a challenging area, I think you will have to commit to sitting with him or being available nearby to help often as needed. Be sure to teach the Singapore method in the word bubbles of each lesson, as this will help! Then, I would move quickly through what your son knows and spend longer on what he does not. In this way, you could cover more ground. Be sure to use the U.S. Edition of Singapore, as the other editions have too much volume added to them which will slow you down.

Once you place your son, you can click here and scroll down on the following to order the needed levels of Singapore. This honestly may be a good option with only a semester or so of instruction time to move forward. I hope this helps!

Blessings,

Carrie

Does having my child with special needs write create bad spelling habits?

Dear Carrie,

My daughter with special needs is able to read, but spelling is a huge issue. I am wondering for a child that can’t spell if writing practice is counter productive? I’m worried having her write things out is actually reinforcing bad spelling habits. I’ve been having her do beginning dictation with Heart of Dakota. But, I wonder if written narrations, where she is creating ideas herself, is just maybe reinforcing poor spelling in her mind? I do correct it. But, she still sees it when she writes it wrong the first time, and she makes the same mistakes over and over. What should I do? I guess my question is, does having my child with special needs write create bad spelling habits? Thanks in advance!

Sincerely,

“Please Help with Special Needs Spelling in Writing”

Dear “Please Help with Special Needs and Spelling in Writing,”

Thanks for sharing about your daughter! Charlotte Mason viewed the mind to function like a camera.  As we see words spelled in written form over and over, we begin to think the word ‘looks right’ even if it is spelled wrong.  That is why spelling programs that include misspelled words for students to correct are detrimental to truly learning proper spelling!

You are so right that writing a word and seeing it incorrectly multiple times fixes the “wrong” spelling in your daughter’s mind, until the wrong way starts to look right!  So, whenever you do something where your daughter will write, copy a portion of it on the markerboard. She can then look at it to copy it on her paper correctly. Also, never have her copy so much that it wears her out. This will cause her copying to quickly go downhill, as I’m sure you know.

Or, if it is difficult for your daughter to copy from markerboard to paper correctly, you can write on paper instead. Just leave a space below each line for her to copy directly under your text letter by letter. Hope that helps!

Blessings!

Carrie

Summer is coming! Are you allowing distractions into your day?

Teaching Tip

As summer is coming, are you allowing distractions to creep into your day?

If you’re anything like me, as I’m getting closer to summer I seem to get distracted more easily. I allow things to creep into my school time that aren’t technically school-related. I find myself whipping together preparation for the evening meal, folding laundry, talking on the phone, or answering emails. Instead, I really need to be focused on schooling during school-time. Usually I know better than to do this, but lately distractions have been creeping in more and more.

Try focusing on school and minimizing the distractions.

So, today, I returned to focusing on doing just school (without letting my time and attention stealers creep in). We finished in a MUCH more timely fashion and my kiddos enjoyed their school day more too! What a good reminder to me to do what I usually do and just focus on school during school-time. This leaves me more time later to do all of my other tasks when school is done! Plus, my kiddos had free-time which they love too! Try focusing on school during school-time today, and see if your day goes better.

Blessings,
Carrie

A Wonderful Idea From a Veteran Homeschool Momma!

Should Charlotte Mason narrations immediately follow the readings?

Dear Carrie,

In our house, some time passes between reading and actually writing a narration in Heart of Dakota. Often my kids refer back to their readings. I understand that Charlotte Mason stressed the importance of their being only a SINGLE reading. So, here are my questions!  Does the written and/or oral narration need to follow the reading immediately? I am also wondering, can they refer back to the book?

Sincerely,

“Mom to 4 Precious Blessings”

Dear “Mom to 4 Precious Blessings,”

You asked some great questions, and I will be glad to answer them! Your first question is…

Does the written and/or oral narration need to follow the reading immediately, or does the time not matter?

The answer to this question really depends on the age of the children.  When kiddos are younger, it is advisable to have the oral and/or written narration immediately follow the reading. This helps them remember what they have read better. As kiddos get older, there can definitely be time between the reading and the narrating. In fact, Charlotte Mason advised spreading out the reading from the narrating more the older the kiddos get.  This is actually the more difficult skill, and it is  intended to be taught once students have had practice orally narrating.  Your second question is…

Can students refer back to the readings in the book as they are writing their narrations? 

This is another good question!  Due to the amount of names and dates in many of our readings, and the length of the readings, looking back at the reading while writing a written narration is helpful and advisable. Referring back to the reading helps so much with spelling and accuracy too! This is actually one of our spelling tips in our written narration skills checklist.  So, it is definitely alright for kiddos to use their living book as a reference for help in writing with proper spelling. Looking back at a reading reference-style wise is different than doing a second reading. Even though kiddos are referring back, it is still a single reading they are narrating from.  You’ve asked some excellent questions!  I hope this helps as you continue your journey with Heart of Dakota and Charlotte Mason!

Blessings,

Carrie

P.S. To find out more about Charlotte Mason and written narrations as a form of assessment, click here!

P.S.S. To find out more about training your kiddos in Charlotte Mason skills, click here!