Why You Should Continue With Copywork Once Dictation and Written Narrations Have Begun

Dear Carrie

What benefits do you see for children to continue copywork once dictation and written narrations are well underway?

Dear Carrie,

The reasons for continuing dictation, oral narration, and written narration through the middle and upper years make sense to me. I myself have seen fruit from these methods! I’ve been grateful for how much they have helped my children in the process of learning to write. Copywork also makes sense to me in the elementary years, and it helped my 3 oldest when they were learning to write. One thing I don’t understood though is the continuation of copywork beyond 5th grade. I have noticed copywork continues through high school. What benefits do you see for children to continue copywork once dictation and written narrations are well underway?

Sincerely,
“Please Help Me See the Benefits of Copywork for Olders”

Dear “Please Help Me See the Benefits of Copywork for Olders,”

This is an excellent question! Heading into upper levels of education, copywork begins taking on a new focus. As students copy from increasingly difficult narrative history books and classic literature, more in-depth elements are present. An author’s style, voice, word choice, descriptive language, use of humor, foreshadowing, mood, and important dialogue can be perceived. In essence, students are copying from great writers and beginning to internalize the author’s use of language.

Many of our founding fathers used this strategy.

This strategy was used by many of our founding fathers as part of their education and all through their lives. Benjamin Franklin was known for copying lengthy passages from the Bible and from Pilgrim’s Progress. He then later tried to write these verbatim, without looking at the model. Thomas Jefferson was also known to copy extensively from various works to internalize the material and note important phrasing.

Charlotte Mason advocated the practice of keeping a Common Place Book through high school.

High school students continue keeping a Common Place Book, selecting meaningful quotes or passages from classic literature for their book. Charlotte Mason advocated this practice throughout high school, and we feel it is an excellent use of students’ time. As students read, they watch for notable quotes or passages and select their favorites from among them. Finally, they copy them into their book for later reference, creating a ‘Common Place’ for their special quotes or passages.

Copywork of Scripture and poetry is especially beneficial.

Continuing copywork of Scripture is another area that is well worth the time spent copying. Within Heart of Dakota, students typically copy verses and passages that they have been asked to memorize. This makes the Scripture within their Common Place Books especially meaningful. Poetry is another area worthy of copywork. Poetry copywork reflects the structure of poems, the flow of words, the sentiments evoked, and the style of the poet.

Continuing copywork ensures students take note of excellent writing.

Copywork is such an overlooked skill especially as students begin doing more of their own writing. However, the inclusion of copywork in Heart of Dakota ensures students are continuing to take note of excellent writing. It keeps students watching how strong writers express themselves and thinking of ways they can imitate great writing. When students read and then copy from what they read, they remember better what was read. The quotes help the student recall the book to mind. So, there are many benefits to copywork all throughout life, no matter what age you are!

Blessings,
Carrie

Are you encouraging your children to do the independent boxes of plans on their own?

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 reading aloud material meant for the children to read on their own?

Are you taking over assignments from the Independent (I) boxes, reading aloud material meant for the child to read? If so, this will definitely add time to your day. It is no surprise that parents often want to keep reading aloud long past the point at which children can read well on their own. This can be because the material is so interesting that the parent doesn’t want to miss out! Other times the parent doesn’t want to lose special time spent reading with the child. Or, perhaps the child doesn’t want the added responsibility of reading his own material. Eventually, a point arrives at which your child will actually prefer reading his own material. Sometimes this is a natural progression, and sometimes children need nudging in this direction. But the progression toward children reading their own material is an important one.

There are many benefits to children reading their own school assignments.

Typically, kiddos can read to themselves much more quickly than you can read aloud to them. Also, students usually retain better when reading to themselves. Even if students’ first independent reading efforts are less than stellar, there is much to be gained from developing this important skill. Training children to read their own material is critical preparation for higher levels of reading, analysis, and application.

Learning to read purposefully is a skill that takes time to develop.

It can take time for children to learn to read purposefully. By high school, almost all students are asked to use this skill regularly. So, be sure to encourage your children to do any reading assigned in the ‘I’ boxes on their own. Then, don’t forget to check your children’s work in any ‘I’ boxes to be sure they have done it! At our house we trust, but verify!! Try training your children to read their own material and see what you think.

Here are some previous posts in this series that you may also want to consider:

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

Have a Written Routine and Provide it to Your Child

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

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.

Follow our blog with Bloglovin

Thanks!
Heart of Dakota

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

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.

Follow our blog with Bloglovin

Thanks!
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

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.

Follow our blog with Bloglovin

Thanks!
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.

Follow our blog with Bloglovin

Thanks!
Heart of Dakota