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

Why homeschool? House rules can change!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? House rules can change!

Having homeschooled for 17 years with Heart of Dakota, I have found many worthwhile reasons to do so! In this From Our House to Yours series, we are exploring reasons to homeschool. My sons and I came up with our own list of reasons, just for fun one day. I left a piece of paper on the counter, and throughout the day, we all added reasons to homeschool. The list grew and grew!  I am sharing some of our family’s reasons to homeschool here each week, in no particular order. Some of these reasons come from my own experience teaching in brick and mortar schools prior to homeschooling my children. This week’s reason is kind of an eclectic grouping of reasons that I will call “House Rules Can Change.”

No Gum Rule

A few students in every brick and mortar school always seemed to ruin it for everyone. Basically, they would not chew gum or dispose of it properly. In other words, they’d blow big bubbles loudly. They’d stick their gum in each other’s hair. Or, they’d stick their gum to the bottom of their desks… repeatedly. Many children chewed gum quietly and responsibly. However, since a few students could not do so, the “No Gum Rule” was established. In homeschooling, my children can chew gum if they can do so responsibly. As long as they chew it quietly so as not to bother others, as long as they dispose of it properly, and as long as they don’t chew gum when talking, I am fine with it! Our house rule can change for one child only if needed (like for the child who stuck gum on his end table). When that child turned a year older, he had another chance at chewing gum. So far, so good.

No Snacks Rule

A few students in every brick and mortar school always seemed to ruin it for everyone. Basically, they would take snacks that were outrageous. In other words, they would take King-sized candy bars, leftover pizza, or a six-pack of Coke. Or, the reverse would be true. Some students simply had no snacks, and others could not share their snacks (another school rule due to allergies). Many children took responsible, reasonable snacks to school. However, since a few students could not do so, the “No Snacks Rule” was established. In homeschooling, my children can have a morning snack or an afternoon snack whenever they are hungry. I have a list they can choose from, but they can come up with their own snacks within reason. Our house rule can change for one child only if needed (like for the child who thought a cup of chocolate chips would be reasonable). When that child had a week  with no snacks, he had another chance at snacking. So far, so good.

No More Than 2 Books from the Library Rule

A few students in every brick and mortar school always seemed to ruin it for everyone. Basically, they would be irresponsible with their library books. In other words, they would check out 30 books and return none… ever. Or, the reverse would be true. Some students simply checked out no books, and others could not share their books because the books were their responsibility (another rule). Many children checked out the number of books they could actually read and return within a week. However, since a few students could not do so, the “No More Than 2 Books from the Library Rule” was established. In homeschooling, my children can have as many books in their possession as we own, and we encourage them to share. Our house rule can change for one child only if needed (like for the child who thought he could take his brother’s books and lose them). When that child returned the books, he had another chance at borrowing brother’s books. So far, so good… I think.

In Closing

In closing, one reason why it is a good idea to homeschool is you can make and change rules on a case by case basis. A rule that once made sense may not anymore. Or, a rule that makes sense for one child may not for another. In homeschooling, we can make sensible rules that are subject to change. So, why homeschool? House rules can change!

In Christ,

Julie

P.S. One ‘teacher rule’ I don’t miss is the NO COFFEE RULE!  That was nearly the death of me. Come to my house anytime! We will have a cup (or two or three or four) of coffee together, as fellow homeschool moms. At least until noon. That’s my coffee rule for now at least, but it may be subject to change.

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