Homeschooling promotes the family as a unit and creates strong ties that last!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? Homeschooling promotes the family as a unit and creates strong ties!

My dad attended a small country school from kindergarten to 8th grade. He had about 12-15 children in his school. Only 1 or 2 students were his same age, and 1 teacher taught them all. Dad rode his horse to school. When he arrived, he would tell his horse to ‘go home.’ The horse would obediently head back home on his own. Children took their lunches to school. They would play baseball, even though they were short players. They would play board games and improvise rules, as they had a wide range of ages. At the end of the day, Dad’s parents would tell his horse to ‘go to school.’ The horse would obediently head back, so Dad could ride him home. The children in country school were like one family that learned to look out and care for one another. They formed strong ties that last still today!

Homeschooling promotes the family as a unit and has strong ties that last!

As little girls, my sisters and I used to pretend we were teaching in Dad’s country schoolhouse. We had chalkboards, books, paper, and one filing cabinet we covered with blue and white checked contact paper. What fun we had! We only had a class of 3, but we loved every minute of ‘school.’ Real (or public) school was alright, but not nearly as much fun. Class sizes were big and the homey feeling was gone. How we missed our one-room schoolhouse at home! Maybe that is why all 3 of us girls decided to homeschool, or maybe it was because our best ‘teacher’ was always our mom. In homeschooling, our family works together as a unit. We form strong ties, and we look out for one another.

In homeschooling, strong family ties can last long past the homeschooling!

My dad has now passed away, but he used to love getting together with past classmates at the All School Reunion. In fact, he actually attended the reunion more than 50 years! When my dad and mom moved to town, my dad surprised my mom by coming home and saying he’d invited his whole class over. There weren’t that many, but still! Even though my dad’s passed away, my mom still gets invited to the reunions, even though she really didn’t attend the school. I guess she just became part of the ‘family.’ In homeschooling, we may not have the ‘right’ number of people or the ‘right’ age of people for everything, but we improvise, and we have all the more fun! Everyone is part of the ‘school.’ No one is left out. And that kind of bond creates strong family ties that last, long past the homeschooling.

In Christ,

Julie

 

Why homeschool? A small class size means more personal attention!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? A small class size means more personal attention!

One of the most well-documented ways to improve student achievement is to reduce class size. Students in small classes score higher on tests, receive better grades, and attend school more regularly. They also show increased persistence, motivation, and self-esteem. The benefits of reducing class size in early grades have been proven to last well into the later grades. Furthermore, gains in upper grades associated with smaller class size can even surpass the gains in the lower grades. Teachers are often asked what the most effective way to improve their teaching would be. Their response? Reduce class size. So, why homeschool? You have a very small class size, which means more personal attention from the teacher for children to do their very best!

With a small class size, we can better see our children’s strengths!

In homeschooling with Heart of Dakota, we can give our children personal attention day in and day out. With our small class size, we can simply better see our children’s strengths. We might see one child is better at math, so we can move this child along more quickly. Perhaps we might see another child is better at reading, so we can choose a higher level of DITHOR. Possibly we might see yet another child is better at drawing, so we can give more time for creative projects. We might see in still another child the mind of a young budding scientist, so we can give extra time for experiments. With a small class size, we can better see our children’s strengths and adjust our homeschooling accordingly!

With a small class size, we can better see our children’s struggles!

In homeschooling, we can give our children personal attention each and every day. With our small class size, we can better see our children’s struggles. We might see one child struggles with math, so we can spend longer on fact memorization. Perhaps we might see another child struggles with reading, so we can spend longer on phonics. Possibly we might see yet another child struggles with writing, so we might experiment with different pencils, grippers, and paper. We might see in still another child the struggle to focus and pay attention, so we can choose a quieter room with less distractions, or we can add more time to get up and move. With a small class size, we can better see our children’s struggles and adjust our homeschooling accordingly!

With a small class size, we can better provide space, supplies, and resources for our children!

In homeschooling, we can always give personal attention to each child. With our small class size, we can better provide space for our children to spread out and work. We can also provide enough supplies for our children. Each child can have his own art supplies, his own work area, and his own place to leave out creative projects that are ongoing. Likewise, we can better provide resources for our children. Each child can do his own science experiments, his own demonstrations, and his own art projects, rather than watching one teacher or a few children do them. Similarly, each child can have his own computer to work on, his own books to read, and his own favorite chair to sit upon. With a small class size, we can easily provide enough space, supplies, and resources for each of our children!

In Closing

In homeschooling, even with a very large family, our ‘class size’ is still smaller than the average class size in other forms of education. Why not start giving your children some personal attention within the ‘small class size’ of your family, by homeschooling them right within your own home today?

In Christ,

Julie

Homeschooling provides ample opportunities to be servant-hearted!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? The home setting provides ample opportunities to be servant-hearted!

In this Heart of Dakota From Our House to Yours series, we continue to explore why it is a good idea to homeschool! In homeschooling, we spend much more time with our families. Often times, we share all 3 meals together. We also share our space with one another, creatively using every nook and cranny of our homes. Likewise, we share our chores together, and there are more of them, simply because we are using our homes from sunup to sundown. We share communication tasks, for someone must answer the door, the phone, the email, or the answering machine, and all are home. Finally, we share hospitality needs with one another, as the home is the hub for visitors. When the whole family is home, there are ample opportunities to be servant-hearted!

Serving, Instead of Sitting and Being Served

Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner together as a family gives ample opportunities for serving! Children can help make the meal, set the table, serve the meal, clean up the table, rinse the dishes, load the dishwasher, put leftovers away, and vacuum the floor after the meal… all 3 times a day. Many children who are not homeschooled are used to their parents quickly getting breakfast for them, a lunch lady serving them at school, and a drive-through attendant serving them a fast food supper in between activities. In homeschooling, meals are a family affair, and everyone is expected to be a part of the serving instead of just sitting down and expecting to be served.

Being Servant-Hearted by Sharing Space and Chores

Homeschooling is like a one room schoolhouse, as many different ages are learning together under one roof. Children who share a room and are homeschooled are sharing the room more than just at night. When their roommate fails to pick up, it is an annoyance every time they enter the room during the day. The same is true with sharing space in the rest of the house. The kitchen table, dining room table, and desk space must be shared. Couches, computers, closets, and cupboards must be shared. We can train our little ones to pick up, while training our older ones to patiently help them. We can assign chores for maintaining an orderly, organized, clean home. This is much different than children who are not homeschooled arriving at a school that has just been freshly cleaned by a janitor.

Being Servant-Hearted in Communicating with Others

When someone calls the home, any person in the household needs to be prepared to answer. It is not just one person taxed with this task. We are all busy in the home when we are homeschooling. Likewise, when someone comes to the door, any person needs to be prepared to answer. When an email is sent or a message is left on the answering machine, more than one person may have to be prepared to respond. We are busy in the home when homeschooling, so all must pitch in and help.  For this very reason, I have been forced to teach all my children to answer the phone, to greet someone at the door, to email someone a response, and to retrieve a message from the answering machine. This is much different from children who are not homeschooled leaving all of these tasks to the classroom teacher.

Being Servant-Hearted by Showing Hospitality

If you are living on a “mountain top,” give praise to the Lord. There will be valleys. We draw closer to the Lord in the valleys, and we sometimes forget Him on the the mountain tops. One very unique, special thing about homeschooling is the drawing closer to the Lord in the valleys, as a family. We have had both, and so will you. Valleys give the chance to either be servant-hearted by showing hospitality, or to be humble by accepting servant-hearted attempts at showing hospitality. We have servant-heartedly cared for my mom when she was sick, and she has servant-heartedly cared for my children when I was sick. Likewise, we have servant-heartedly cared for my sister, when she was weary, and bedridden with fever and dizziness, and she has servant-heartedly cared for me when I was so ill I could not care for myself or my baby.

Our children watch and learn. Bring a blanket, a cup of coffee, a tray of food, a hug, or just quietly close the door. Get past yourself. Someone else is hurting, and you can ease their suffering. I often felt teaching in public school that it was survival of the fittest. Weakness was to be needy, and to be needy was an embarrassment. I have found teaching in the homeschool setting to be quite the opposite. Weakness gives the opportunity to be servant-hearted, and there is no embarrassment in that. Rather, we see someone we love hurting, and we long to help. We meet them in the valley, and when they rise to the mountain top, they lower themselves, in turn, to come back down and meet us in the valley.  Why homeschool? The homeschool setting provides ample opportunities to be servant-hearted. There is no greater honor.

In Christ,
Julie

Enjoy interest-led learning within the structure of daily plans!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? Enjoy interest-led learning within the structure of daily plans!

What are each of your children interested in? When they have free time, what do they like to do? Chances are, if you have multiple children, each will be motivated by different individual interests. Why is this important? Well, when we take into account children’s interests, their motivation naturally increases. Simply put, interest-led learning takes into account children’s interests and creates opportunities for those interests to be part of learning. At Heart of Dakota, we like to create opportunities for children to enjoy interest-led learning. However, we also like to balance this within the structure of daily plans. Children can have some say in what they choose to do, but parents can also have structure that ensures children are still learning what they need to. This is the best of both worlds!

We provide opportunities for interest-led learning by offering book choices!

One easy way to provide opportunities for interest-led learning is by offering our children book choices. At Heart of Dakota, we offer book choices within Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR). Students can choose their own books, or they can choose from our DITHOR book packages. They can even substitute several books within a package if they prefer. However, book selections are made within the structure of DITHOR’s genres. This helps children read from every genre and learn each story element, while still letting the reading be interest-led. We also offer book choices with the Storytime read-alouds in our guides. Students can choose books for parents to read aloud to them in our guides that have Storytime plans based on genres. Or, students can peruse our classic, boy, girl, and history-based read aloud options, and choose from those sets.

We provide opportunities for interest-led learning by offering multiple levels of resources! 

Another easy way to provide opportunities for interest-led learning is by offering multiple levels of resources. Some children prefer books with more pictures and less text, and some prefer less pictures and more text. For example, Little Hands to Heaven has multiple Bibles, devotionals, and science books that can be used. Likewise, starting with Bigger Hearts…, we have easier books to read aloud (Deluxe Package) or harder books for children to read independently (Extension Package). Each of these options still fit within the structure of the plans by making sure children are learning what they should each year.

We provide opportunities for interest-led learning by offering project choices! 

Different children enjoy different types of projects. We provide project choices in DITHOR’s genre kickoffs and in DITHOR’s genre projects. Children can choose among Godly character-based projects, book-based projects or group projects. Likewise, we provide for creativity and individuality in history projects and art projects. Children are not confined to create copycat history or art projects. Rather, they are encouraged to put their own personality into each of their projects, which makes for excellent interest-led learning. High school courses, such as Total Health, continue to provide opportunities for interest-led learning by giving multiple project options. Nothing motivates teenagers more than having a say in what they do!

We provide opportunities for interest-led learning by offering boy/girl choices!

Boys and girls often have different topics of interest. At Heart of Dakota, we embrace this by offering DITHOR book sets that are boy or girl interest focused. We also offer multiple devotional and Bible study choices that are focused on boy and girl interests. In high school literature, boy and girl options are given for book selections. Likewise, we offer boy and girl living book choices in high school as well. Sometimes children prefer a mix of boy and girl book choices. We have structured lesson plans that still allow for flexibility, so these can be swapped out if desired (i.e. World Geography’s substitution notes for Boy/Girl set literature).

We provide opportunities for interest-led learning by using portfolio-based assessments!

One final way we provide opportunities for interest-led learning is by using portfolio-based assessments. We encourage children to express their individuality by planning open-ended assignments. For example, we assign what should be drawn, in general, for timeline entries. But, we leave room for creative interpretation. So, we might assign children to draw and color a sword for the Battle of Salamis, but we expect each child’s sword to look different from another’s. Likewise, we might children  to write a 10-13 sentence narration in response to their history reading. But, we encourage children to choose their own details to include in their narration.

In Closing…

So, in closing, one reason we like to homeschool is we can easily provide opportunities for interest-led learning. First, we can offer book choices. Second, we can offer project choices. Third, we can offer boy/girl interest choices. Finally, we can offer portfolio-based assessment. At Heart of Dakota, we believe in offering interest-led learning opportunities within the structure of daily plans. We like this balance of providing time for interest to lead the learning and of planning time for skills to lead the learning. I think you will enjoy this balance too!

In Christ,

Julie

Better Beloved Living Books Instead of Less Loved Dry Textbooks

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? Use better beloved living books to teach your children instead of less loved dry textbooks!

There are many reasons to homeschool, and we are exploring some of them in this From Our House to Yours series. Take a moment to think back to your favorite books from your time spent in school. How many of them are textbooks? Now, think back to your favorite authors. How many of them are authors of textbooks? Chances are your answer to both these questions is ‘none.’ Why? Textbooks are often quite dry, utterly forgettable, and definitely less loved than the average book. Though we know this to be true, textbooks continue to provide the basis for the bulk of educational instruction in most brick and mortar schools. This brings us to a very good reason why you should consider homeschooling! You can use better beloved living books to teach your children rather than less loved dry textbooks!

Living books are better because they are remembered long after the last page has been read!

Have you ever read a textbook from cover to cover and longed to read it all over again? When you finish reading a textbook, do you rush to find another textbook by that same author? As you read a textbook, do you find yourself excitedly sharing what you’ve read? Chances are you don’t. Living books are the opposite. You do long to read them cover to cover, you do rush to find another book by that same author, and you do find yourself excitedly sharing what you’ve read with whoever will listen! When our children read living books for their education, the same holds true for them. They can’t wait to find out what will happen next. Finding books by the same author is a must. Sharing what has been read is exciting (and it’s called oral narration – thank you Ms. Charlotte Mason)!

Heart of Dakota provides a living books, literature-based, Christ-centered education!

There are many books that are lining the shelves of libraries, bookstores, and homes, that are simply not good books. We are a conservative family and try to have a similar standard for our children’s free reading time as we do for their homeschooling time. I must admit, hard as I try though, our children’s free reading books are not as wonderful as Heart of Dakota‘s book picks. I have really struggled with finding books for our children to read for free time, and these books don’t even have to fit into a specific historical time period, a particular science focus, a certain genre, or an exact age level! Having used HOD from PreK to 12th grade now, one of the things I am most thankful for is the book choices! Thank you, Heart of Dakota, for a living books, literature-based, Christ-centered education!

Build your own home library of wonderful living books!

I have a bookshelf in my bedroom that holds my most beloved books. Not one of my most beloved books is a traditional textbook. I have my favorite books grouped by authors as well. Not one of my sets of books grouped by authors is a set of textbooks. Why? Textbooks belong in my office with my bill-paying caddie. I use these books for occasional reference rather than for reading cover to cover. These books would never make it onto my beloved bookshelf in my bedroom. In homeschooling, you can build your own home library of wonderful living books that you and your children love! These are books you enjoy returning to from time to time and rereading just because they are THAT good! So, why homeschool? You can enjoy reading better beloved living books instead of wasting time with less loved dry textbooks!

In Christ,
Julie

P.S. Do you have a student who was used to textbooks in public school and seems to be more comfortable with textbooks than quality living books?  Click here to read Carrie’s thoughts on helping a mom who posed that very question!