Making the Five Love Languages a Part of Your Average Homeschool Day

From Our House to Yours

Hello fellow homeschool moms! If you’re too busy to read this post, try listening to the audio version of it by clicking on the link at the bottom!

The Five Love Languages

I bought both The Five Love Languages and The Five Love Languages of Children at a Christian book fair booth many years ago. These books by Gary Chapman teach that there are five love languages. These five love languages are words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service, and gifts. The premises is that each adult or child has a preferred love language. In other words, each person has one more predominant way he/she feels loved. Each person also has one more predominant way he/she shows love to others. Ironically, this may be a different way than the way in which he/she feels loved. So, what does this have to do with Heart of Dakota and homeschooling? Well, let’s see!

Love Language #1:  Words of Affirmation

Does your child thrive when you speak words of affirmation? Well, sincere verbal compliments or kind words are easy to make part of your Heart of Dakota homeschool day! When your child finishes giving an oral narration, share what you loved best about it. On top of your child’s passed dictation passage, write “Terrific work!” When correcting your child’s creative writing story, jot some encouraging words in the margins about what you liked best. In your child’s Common Place Book, take a moment to write an encouraging comment. When discussing your child’s Bible Study, be sure to affirm how much you love your child and to share the Christian qualities you see blossoming in your child. If words of affirmation is not your own love language, remember Thessalonians 5:11 says: So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now. Give it a try!

Love Language #2:  Physical Touch

Does your child love to be hugged? Well, physical touch is easy to make a part of your Heart of Dakota day! As you begin your homeschool day, give your child a big hug! When reading aloud to your child, cuddle close together on the couch. If you are working through a tough math problem together, give your child a little neck or back rub to ease stress and provide encouragement. Every now and then, give your child’s shoulder a little squeeze of encouragement as you say “I love you!” Share a fuzzy blanket and a cup of hot cocoa as you go through your child’s completed independent work. If physical touch is not your own love language, remember I Peter 5:14 says: Give each other a kiss of Christian love when you meet. For your child’s sake, give it a try!

Love Language #3:  Quality Time

Does your child love to spend time with you and have your undivided attention? Well, quality time is easy to make a part of your Heart of Dakota day! Whenever you have “T” teacher-directed plans, give your child your undivided attention. Look your child in the eye, nod as you listen, share your thoughts, and be really present in that moment. Set up your day to have teaching blocks of time alone with your quality time-loving child. Then, be sure to spend that time together without distraction. Show your child how much you care by not taking phone calls, checking text messages, posting on Facebook, or giving that child’s quality time to another child. If quality time is not your own love language, remember Jesus said in Matthew 28:20: I will be with you always, even until the end of the age. And, give quality time a try!

Outdoor “recess” can become quality time with cousins too!
DITHOR Projects are great quality time opportunities for siblings too!
Science projects offer quality time chances for brothers too!
Love Language #4:  Acts of Service

Does your child love it when you show you care by performing acts of service? Well, acts of service are easy to make a part of your Heart of Dakota day! Any “T” teacher-directed or “S” semi-independent boxes of plans in your child’s guide are a great place to step in with some loving acts of service! For the “I” independent boxes of plans, you can help set out your child’s books, art supplies, or science experiment things. You can make your child a cup of hot cocoa for break time. Simply asking, “How can I help?” or “How can I make things better?” are great ways to see what acts of service would be most appreciated. If acts of service is not your own love language, remember I John 3:18: My children, we should love people not only with words and talk, but by our actions and true caring. Give it a try!

Who doesn’t love being served hot cocoa?!?
Helping a little brother with school is an act of service too!

Love Language #5:  Gifts

Does your child love to receive gifts or little surprises? Well, this love language is easy to make a part of your Heart of Dakota day! “T” teacher-directed and “S” semi-independent plans help you offer the gift of your presence every day! Have a fun HOD ‘box day’ by wrapping your child’s books like a gift at the start of the year. Or, make a ‘treasure hunt’ with your child’s HOD books as the ‘treasures!’ Choose some inexpensive special art supplies (i.e. twistables) or school supplies (i.e. glitter) for your child to open as gifts throughout the year. Surprise your child with a special drink (i.e. bubble gum soda) or snack (i.e. caramel popcorn) during the homeschool day. Get a new dollar store candle to light during seat work.  Remember, James 1:17: Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. These good gifts come down from the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, who does not change like their shifting shadows.

History Projects can be ‘gifts” when shared!
History-inspired meals can be shared ‘gifts’ too!
The dollar store is full of fun little surprise gifts!
The Lord cares so much about us showing love that He commands us to do so!

God made each of us His own special creation. We all feel loved and show love in different ways. Knowing how our children feel most loved and showing them we love them during our homeschool day is so important! The Lord cares deeply about us showing love to one another. In fact, He cares so deeply that He said in John 13:34-35: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.

Putting Love Languages into Practice

Knowing how each of my children feels loved is key. It saves time! Showing love in the way each of my children truly feels loved fills their ‘tank’ faster and longer than trying to show love in just the way(s) I feel loved. The love language a child prefers can change through the years. So, be ready to make a change if need be! When in doubt, I try to show each child each love language and see which one each seems to prefer. Being sincere and not judging a child for his/her preferred love language is crucial. Remember, there is no one right way to love or to be loved! On a side note, it never hurts to tell your children how YOU feel loved too! We don’t want to feel like showing love to us is a difficult task with an unknown target. Hope you have fun discovering how love languages can enhance your homeschool days!

Click the following link to listen to the audio version of this post!  If you have trouble finding the audio in the email version of this post, try copying and pasting the URL at the very bottom of the email in your browser!

In Christ,

Julie

A Hybrid Approach to Beyond Little Hearts and Bigger Hearts for 6-8 Year-Olds

From Our House to Yours

A Hybrid Approach to Beyond Little Hearts and Bigger Hearts

Heart of Dakota’s (HOD’s) Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond) has a target age range of 6-8 years old. This means the bulk of the guide is geared toward children within this target age range. So, the history, geography, timeline, science, Bible study, devotional, music, art projects, poetry activities, and read-alouds all are very appropriate for children ages 6-8. These subjects are more inspirational, and as such, have a wider range of appropriate placement. In contrast, language arts and math are more disciplinary subjects. These subjects have a smaller range of appropriate placement. They require more fine tuning. There are already multiple levels of reading, spelling, math, and copywork in Beyond’s plans. However, what if you are combining a 6 year-old with an 8 year-old that is just ready for more in language arts and math? Well, you take a hybrid approach!

A Hybrid Approach to Handwriting

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond) already has writing options for copywork. Students use classical poetry provided in the Appendix of Beyond for copywork. You can already customize handwriting by choosing how many lines of the poetry each student copies. Younger students might begin by copying one line of poetry each day. Older students might copy four lines of poetry each day. But what if your 8 year-old is advanced in handwriting and is ready for cursive? Well, you take the hybrid approach by adding either Cheerful Cursive or Italic D from the Bigger Hearts guide!

A Hybrid Approach to Math

Beyond has two math options. The first option includes 1A/1B Singapore Math. The Beyond guide has wonderful hands-on daily math plans to teach the 1A/1B math. In the Appendix of the Beyond guide, there is a second option for using 2A/2B Singapore Math. This schedule uses the textbook to teach 2A/2B, with the workbook to follow. However, if you prefer hands-on math plans to teach 2A/2B, or if you have one super smart little one that places in Singapore Math 3A/3B, it’s time to take the hybrid approach! How? Well, you use the Bigger Hearts teacher’s guide. With daily hands-on math plans for 2A/2B, by using the Bigger Hearts guide, you don’t even need to buy the 2A/2B Textbooks. So, really, by using this hybrid approach for 2A/2B, you’re getting the Bigger Hearts guide for nearly $30 less (the guide less the cost of the textbooks).

A Hybrid Approach to Spelling

Beyond includes two spelling options already. Spelling list one is easier than spelling list two, and both are included in Beyond’s daily plans and Appendix. However, if your 8 year-old is ready for harder spelling in the form of Charlotte Mason’s studied dictation, it is time to take the hybrid approach! The Appendix of the Bigger Heart’s teacher’s guide includes Dictation Level 2. This is the first of eight levels of studied dictation, and it is the next, harder level of spelling instruction after Beyond’s spelling list two. So, if you have an 8 year-old in Beyond who is ready for studied dictation, take the hybrid approach by adding the dictation plans from the Bigger Hearts guide!

A Hybrid Approach to Grammar

Each Day 5 of each weekly unit in the Beyond teacher’s guide already includes an activity to teach a grammar skill. The grammar lessons in Beyond usually don’t require much writing, so they are perfect for 6 or 7 year-olds ready for grammar but not ready for a lot of writing! However, if your 8 year-old is ready for daily grammar with more writing, it’s time to take the hybrid approach! Just add the Bigger Heart’s R & S English 2 grammar plans for your 8 year-old!

A Full or Partial Hybrid Approach

So, if you have an 8 year-old or nearly 9 year-old using Beyond for a core guide, either solo or combined with a younger sibling, consider a hybrid approach! Choose a full hybrid approach for an 8 year-old ready for more in all language arts and math areas. Or, choose a partial hybrid approach for an 8 year-old ready for more in just one or two areas. Either way, you can easily use a full or partial hybrid approach alongside Beyond as your main guide. Better yet, you won’t be out your Economy Package savings the following year when you use Bigger Hearts as your main guide! Just let HOD know you already purchased your Beyond guide from them the year before, and HOD will still apply your $20+ package savings when you order the rest of the Economy Package later. Hope you enjoy some of these hybrid approach ideas!

In Christ,

Julie

 

Criteria to Choose Half-Speed in a Higher Guide, or Full-Speed in a Lower Guide

From Our House to Yours

Hello fellow homeschool moms! If you’d enjoy it, try listening to the audio version of this post by clicking on the link at the bottom!

Criteria to Choose Between Going Half-Speed in a Higher Guide, or Full-Speed in a Lower Guide

On the phone for Heart of Dakota, I am often asked what a good criteria is for determining whether it is better to go half-speed with a higher guide, or full-speed with a lower guide. I have used half-speed pacing and full-speed pacing throughout the past 17 homeschooling years with my sons. My criteria isn’t a set list necessarily, but I will try to describe it here as best I can! (Keep in mind, placement for children with special needs is done on a more case by case basis. It is based more on parents’ preference on personal goals and level of involvement than what I am describing here.)

Criteria for Choosing Half-Speed Pacing

My criteria for running a guide half-speed is dependent on how my child is doing overall. If I can see my child has the skills intact to do a guide well, is trying his best, is choosing a good attitude, is working his hardest, but still just seems to be struggling – not with the skills in a guide – but with completing his guide in a timely fashion – I might go half-speed for awhile. Half-speed seems to help me teach time management skills better, as well as the routine of the guide. For example, I started “Bigger Hearts” half-speed with Riley at the end of his second grade school year. The next school year, I thought we’d start full-speed, but he was not ready. He still needed time to grow in his time management skills.

He loved school! However, using his time well was something he needed to learn. I knew this was an important habit to instill, as it would effect his work habits lifelong. So, we changed to half-speed. We worked on how to better use time (with a timer), how to transition between subjects better (with a markerboard listing of what needed to be done), and how to work through a project in a way that allowed creativity but didn’t let dawdling surface (by talking through the steps of a project, noting what I’d be looking for in the guide as far as assessment, and how to break the project down so he finished in a fairly timely manner). He then easily moved into doing Bigger Hearts full-speed.

Poor attitudes or work habits are character-based problems and are not a good criteria for going half-speed.

Sometimes children are properly placed and have the academic skills and ability to do a guide well. However, pesky things like poor attitude and poor work habits are the problem. If this is the case, and if “character-based” traits such as these need to be worked on, then we do that through focused encouragement and discipline instead of by slowing work to half-speed. Poor habits are not “rewarded” by a lowered work expectation in the form of lessening work in school. Character-based issues are not good criteria for going half-speed.

Criteria for Children Who Don’t Have the Academic Skills to Proceed Ahead to Full-Speed Successfully

A final placement scenario is if it becomes obvious the child does not have the academic skills to proceed full-speed ahead successfully. If this criteria is the case, then doing a lower guide is the better placement. Half-speed will not fix the fact that he or she did not have the skills in place to start the guide. The skills he or she needs are not taught at an introductory level in the guide. They were taught at the introductory level in the previous guide. Therefore, he or she needs to go back and be taught those skills first.

How can you know if this is the case?

Well, the placement chart and the first week of plans can make this criteria clearer. The placement chart skills need to be solidly in place for children to begin a guide. They are not skills to shoot for, to work on developing, or to grow into. Whatever the skills are listed in the column for a guide, the child should possess those skills to begin that guide. Using this criteria, a child will be well-placed for the entire year.

An Example of Criteria for the Storytime of Little Hearts for His Glory

For example, when the placement chart lists the criteria that a child needs to be ready to listen to “Daily read-alouds that are classic short stories that foster listening skills and beginning narration skills” for the Storytime of Little Hearts for His Glory, and a child does not have the attention span to listen to short “classic” sounding books with fewer pictures, that child is better placed in Little Hands to Heaven. I am not talking about being able to immediately narrate well upon these books. Instead, I mean that the child has the ability to listen to the books being read, without saying things like “Where are the pictures?” or “I like this book better because I understand it better,” and that book is a book that has a bunch of pictures, or is a book with a more simplistic plot or storyline.

An Example of Criteria for Reading in Bigger Hearts for His Glory

The placement chart lists the criteria that a child needs to be “done with phonics and be either an Emerging Reader or be Reading Independently to begin Bigger Hearts.” That means a child needs to be able to (at the very least) read the Emerging Reader’s Set of books well. So, if a child is still doing phonics, and cannot read the Emerging Reader’s Set books, he should be placed in Beyond Little Hearts instead.

An Example of Criteria for Copywork in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory

When the placement chart lists the criteria that a child needs to be “able to copy sentences and study/copy spelling words to begin Beyond Little Hearts,” that means a child needs to be ready to (at the very least) copy 1 sentence a day, as well as do the spelling word activities in the language arts box of plans. So, if a child can only write one word of the poetry, or if a sentence of copywork a day is too much, that child should be placed in Little Hearts for His Glory instead.

An Example of Criteria for Reading in Creation to Christ

When the placement chart lists the criteria that a child needs to be “Reading independently – able to use Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR) Level 4/5 to begin Creation to Christ (CTC),” that means that child needs to be able to read his history and science well independently, as well as able to read at least 4/5 level books independently with DITHOR to be able to start CTC. So, if a parent is having to read aloud the history and the science, or if the child is unable to read 4/5 level books for DITHOR well, then that child should be placed in Preparing Hearts, or Bigger Hearts instead.

Age is only one part of the criteria in placement.

I am trying to answer this question fully with not just the ages of children in mind. When using the placement chart, a child should not be “growing into” the skills within the columns of a guide. Rather these are the academic skills a child needs to already posses to be able to do the guide properly. Skills cannot be fast-forwarded. If a child does not have them, then a child must go back to get them. Going forward will only cause more skills to be missed. Eventually, a child must drop back to be taught them anyway.

Other Criteria That Impacts Placement

Sometimes when looking at the placement chart, parents think children have skills they actually do not have. When they begin a guide, it becomes obvious they do not have them intact. Therefore, they must be placed a guide back. If children have not had a Charlotte Mason education, or are coming home from public school, or have been used to a textbook-style education, or have been used to a parent doing all of their reading, or have not done many follow-up activities in the form of skill-based learning, then often times it is more difficult to place them accurately, even with the placement chart. It just can be tough to tell which skills they really do have intact.

By completing all the plans in a guide, children are well-prepared for the next guide.

I have not had to drop back a guide, as I have been with Heart of Dakota from the start. The criteria I am sharing here is more for initial placement. Each guide truly does prepare children for the next guide, provided children are doing everything in the guide each day. A word of caution – skipping boxes results in skipping skills. This further results in children not having the skills in place to do the next guide. We have always made sure to do all that is planned in a guide. This ensures our children are learning the skills they need to progress.

In Closing

So, when using placement chart criteria, it is a good idea to really ponder if children have the skills intact to begin that guide, or if they need to go back and solidify some skills first instead. Second, it is a good idea to really ponder if children have the Godly character traits, good work habits, and solid time management skills in place to do their work well – and if not, to use encouragement and discipline to help them learn these skills. If it is a matter of managing time or teaching good work habits, then half-speed can be utilized to help in this training phase. Third, it is a good idea to routinely have children be responsible for all of the work in a guide each day, so they do not fall behind in skills and find themselves unprepared for the next guide.

In Christ,

Julie

Click on the play button below to listen to the audio version of this post! Hope you enjoy this! (Note: If you’re reading this blog post in an email and having trouble playing the audio, scroll down to the very bottom of the email and click on the link to this post.)

P.S. Need some help with placement? Heart of Dakota has many placement helps available! I will list them below for your convenience:

  1. placement specialist by phone (call (605) 428-4068 any afternoon Monday through Friday)
  2. HOD Message Board (free to join, please post on the Main Board)
  3. placement chart
  4. catalog (free to order, full of lots of helpful placement information)

 

A Hybrid Approach to Little Hearts and Beyond Little Hearts for 5-7 Year-Olds

From Our House to Yours

A Hybrid Approach to Little Hearts and Beyond Little Hearts

Heart of Dakota’s (HOD’s) Little Hearts for His Glory (LHFHG) has a target age range of 5-7 years old. This means the bulk of the guide is geared toward children within this target age range. So, the history, science, Bible study, devotional, music, art projects, rhymes, activities, read-alouds all are very appropriate for children ages 5-7. These subjects are more inspirational, and as such, have a wider range of appropriate placement. In contrast, language arts and math are more disciplinary subjects. These subjects have a smaller range of appropriate placement. They require more fine tuning. There are already multiple levels of phonics, math, fine motor skills, handwriting, and even science in LHFHG’s plans. However, what if you are combining a 5 year-old with a 7 year-old that is just ready for more in language arts and math? Well, you take a hybrid approach!

A Hybrid Approach to Reading

Little Hearts for His Glory (LHFHG) already has two phonics options – The Reading Lesson and Reading Made Easy. However, if your 7 year-old is reading Level 1 or 2 books quite fluently (such as Frog and Toad Are Friends or Amelia Bedelia), it’s time to take a hybrid approach. How do you do this? Well, you use the Emerging Reader’s Set and its plans with the Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond) teacher’s guide. With a daily reading schedule and oral comprehension questions targeted to each day’s specific reading, The Emerging Reader’s Set and the Beyond guide offer the perfect hybrid approach!

A Hybrid Approach to Math

LHFHG has two math options. The first option includes Essentials Kindergarten Math A and B. The LHFHG guide has wonderful hands-on daily math plans to teach the K math. In the Appendix of the LHFHG guide, there is a second option for using 1A/1B Singapore Math. This schedule uses the textbook to teach 1A/1B, with the workbook to follow. However, if you prefer hands-on math plans to teach 1A/1B, or if you have one super smart little one that places in Singapore Math 2A/2B, it’s time to take the hybrid approach! How? Well, you use the Beyond teacher’s guide. With daily hands-on math plans for 1A/1B, by using the Beyond guide, you don’t even need to buy the 1A/1B Textbooks. So, really, by using this hybrid approach for 1A/1B, you’re getting the Beyond guide for nearly $30 less (the guide less the cost of the textbooks).

A Hybrid Approach to Spelling

LHFHG does not include spelling plans, as most children this age do not need them. However, if your 7 year-old is ready for spelling, it is time to take the hybrid approach! The Appendix of the Beyond teacher’s guide includes two levels of spelling lists. Four days each week, the Beyond guide provides lessons for each week’s spelling list. These plans do an excellent job of preparing children for the later, more challenging spelling skills used in Charlotte Mason-style dictation. So, if you have a 7 year-old in LHFHG who is ready for spelling, take the hybrid approach by adding the spelling plans from the Beyond guide!

A Hybrid Approach to Grammar

LHFHG does not include grammar plans, as most children this age do not need them. However, if your 7 year-old is ready for a basic introduction to grammar, it’s time to take the hybrid approach! Each Day 5 of each weekly unit in the Beyond teacher’s guide includes an activity to teach a grammar skill. Each week teaches a new grammar skill that prepares kiddos well for the later, more challenging grammar skills taught in R & S English. The grammar lessons in Beyond usually don’t require much writing, so they are perfect for 7 year-olds ready for grammar but not ready for a lot of writing! Click here and scroll down to the “Grammar, Mechanics, and Usage” section of the Beyond guide to see a list of the grammar skills taught.

A Full or Partial Hybrid Approach

So, if you have a 7 year-old or nearly 8 year-old using LHFHG for a core guide, either solo or combined with a younger sibling, consider a hybrid approach! Choose a full hybrid approach for a 7 year-old ready for more in all language arts and math areas. Or, choose a partial hybrid approach for a 7 year-old ready for more in just one or two areas. Either way, you can easily use a full or partial hybrid approach alongside LHFHG as your main guide. Better yet, you won’t be out your Economy Package savings the following year when you use Beyond as your main guide! Just let HOD know you already purchased your Beyond guide from them the year before, and HOD will still apply your nearly $20 package savings when you order the rest of the Economy Package later. Hope you enjoy some of these hybrid ideas!

In Christ,

Julie

 

‘Twas the Night Before Homeschooling – A Time Saving Tip

From Our House to Yours

‘Twas the Night Before Homeschooling – A Time Saving Tip

‘Twas the night before homeschooling, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring – not even a mouse! What does this have to do with your Heart of Dakota homeschooling and saving time? Well, the night before homeschooling provides the perfect opportunity to get ahead so you have more time to homeschool tomorrow! In today’s time saving tip, let’s see how ‘the night before’ can save you precious time the next day!

Prepping Breakfast the Night Before

In homeschooling, making breakfast is a daily occurrence. On our especially busy days, I like to prep breakfast the night before. One of my favorite recipes is overnight cinnamon rolls. At supper, I set the frozen dough out. Right before bed, I make these super simple cinnamon rolls. They rise overnight, and in the morning I pop these in the oven for 15 minutes and drizzle on some frosting. Voila! Breakfast is served! Overnight oatmeal and egg bakes save time too. Or, last night I just set out the nonperishable ingredients, measuring cups/spoons, and waffle maker for waffles. This morning, I could whip those waffles together in a snap! Setting the table the night before for breakfast the next day is another time saver. So, if you find you have more time at night than in the morning, try prepping your breakfast!

Setting Out Clothes the Night Before

If I know I have an especially busy day tomorrow, I set out my clothes the night before. I might even have my sons set out their clothes. When they were younger, they had trouble finding matching clothes. They would come downstairs to start homeschooling only to have to head back upstairs to change clothes so they matched (or so they had on clean clothes – boys need a little more help in this area). Setting their clothes out the night before helped save a lot of time in the morning! When they were tweens, I snapped pictures of sets of matching shorts and shirts. I hung these pictures in their closets. That way, they could check the pictures and be able to match their clothes themselves. This also saved time! (If you have a personal goal to try to exercise in the morning, setting out exercise clothes helps too!)

Showering or Bathing the Night Before

When I had babies or little children, I had an especially hard time getting to my shower in the mornings! Little ones wake up, and ‘homeschooling’ is ON! Moving my shower or bath to the night before helped save so much time the next day. Likewise, moving babies’ and little ones’ baths to the night before helps the next morning too. Finally, moving tweens’ and teens’ showers to the night before when a busy homeschool day is ahead helps. This need not be an every night occurrence, but if an especially busy day is ahead, it helps to move showering or bathing to the night before!

Setting Out Homeschool Books and Supplies the Night Before

For teenagers, setting out homeschool books and supplies the night before works well. I have a nephew (now graduated) who set out whatever he needed for the next homeschool day the night before. He had several blocks of work time, so he made several piles of books/resources. This saved much time as he moved from block to block of work time. He also said he liked how this helped him envision his homeschool day well. For little kiddos who have a work area you won’t be needing for something else in the morning, you can set up their things for them. (This won’t work if their work area is the kitchen table though!)

In Closing

If you find you have more time and energy at night, these ‘night before’ tips may save you some time the next day.  I have not done all of these all of the time I’ve homeschooled, but in certain stages of life, each tip has served me well. I hope some of these tips save you some time too!

In Christ,

Julie