Graduation for Homeschool Students

From Our House to Yours

Our oldest son is 18 years old and just completed his last Heart of Dakota guide!  It is hard to believe he is graduating.  He has done every HOD guide from PreK through 12th grade, and the years have truly flown by.  We are so proud of him!  Homeschool graduations can be celebrated many different ways. To show one way, I thought for this post I would share some of the things we are doing for graduation.

Take pictures earlier in the year if you can!

Last October a good friend of ours took Wyatt’s pictures for graduation. Fall is a beautiful time of year here.  I knew we’d be crazy busy this spring, so taking the pictures ahead of time really helped.  Our friend just took pictures on her camera different places around where we live.  God’s creation is always a beautiful backdrop!

We picked one dressy outfit and two casual outfits.  I tried to stick with a similar color scheme. I washed, pressed, and set aside the clothes.  We told our friend to just give us at least a few hours’ notice for when she thought the pictures would be good to take.  This is something we can do when we are homeschooling, right?!? Having our son’s senior pictures taken ahead of time allowed me to be able to make the invitations for our open house ahead of time on Shutterfly.  So, all I had to do was fill in the date of our open house later.  My son chose his favorite photos for the invitations and picked a Bible verse for them. Easy peasy!

Choose a date that is different from the dates of public and private school graduations!

We picked a different open house date than local public and private high school’s dates.  We can choose any date for our graduation!  I love the flexibility of homeschooling! Visiting with family and close friends, we picked the date and time that worked best. Choosing a date other than the typical graduation gatherings helps family and friends be more able to attend.

Choose a place that can be set up ahead of time if possible!

We have chosen our garage for an  informal outdoor graduation open house.  This is common where we live, as summers are lovely, and we live on an acreage!  Plus, it gives us a great reason to clean the garage, right?!? I don’t know about your garage, but ours could use a reason for a good cleaning!  We’ve borrowed tables and chairs from my husband’s workplace.

Choose simple table decorations that can be reused for your other children who will be graduating someday!

As we live in the country, we have chosen red gingham tablecloths.  I don’t have to spend much money on them, and I can reuse them. Each 6 foot table will have ball canning jars with Wyatt’s favorite snacks – cashews and M & M’s!  I’ve made a family photobook each year for my husband for Christmas, so I’m setting a different photobook on each table too.  There are many pictures of Wyatt with our family growing up, and I think this could be a good conversation piece!

I’m also planning on having a card table with red gingham tablecloth and with a premade poster for people to sign for Wyatt.  They can write comments as well here, and I think it will be a neat keepsake of the party for him.  I’m putting a red geranium on this table as well (thanks mom for that wonderful idea)!  I’m also going to put his baby photobook on this table.  Finally, the backdrop leaning against the wall will be a metal art wall hanging I made for him with all his senior pictures.  This can hang on the wall in his bedroom after the party (thanks Carrie for this awesome idea)!

Choose food that won’t prevent you from visiting with guests!

I love to cook and to bake!  However, I don’t want to be consumed with this so much leading up to the graduation or during the graduation.  I want to be able to visit with family and friends and be there for Wyatt.  So, we are making pulled pork ahead of time and putting it in crock pots for sandwiches.  We are also putting baked beans in crock pots.  Premade potato salad, chips and dip, coleslaw (thanks Cindy for this idea), and 2 kinds of layered cake from Costco will round out the menu.  Lemonade, coffee (good idea, mom), and water bottles will be available as well.

I hope this has given all of you amazing moms some ideas to simplify graduation for your homeschool senior!  What a blessing to be able to celebrate ‘pressing on toward the goal to win the prize‘ with our graduating teens!!!  God bless!

In Christ,


Encouraging Students to Make Oral Narrations Their Own

 From Our House to Yours

How can we encourage our students to make oral narrations their own?

Narration is a key component of Charlotte Mason’s method of instruction. In simplest terms, narration is the telling back in your own words what you just read or heard. It provides an excellent evaluation method for homeschooling, as the student must do much thinking and assimilating to narrate. No two narrations should be the same. Rather, the student is to ‘make the narration his own.’

Heart of Dakota includes various forms of narration in each guide’s plans as a type of assessment. Each year new kinds of narrations are added, while others continue to be practiced and honed. So, narration is easily a part of a student’s homeschooling just by following the plans in Heart of Dakota’s guides. However, encouraging personal style is a little more difficult to ‘plan.’  So, let’s answer this question for this blog post! How can we encourage our students to make oral narrations their own?

Well, first we can find clues about how to encourage our students to make narrations their own in Charlotte Mason’s own words.

Narrating is not the work of a parrot, but of absorbing into oneself the beautiful thought from the book, making it one’s own and then giving it forth again with just that little touch that comes from one’s own mind. (The Story of Charlotte Mason, p. 125)

We are determined that the children shall love books, therefore we do not interpose ourselves between the book and the child. (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 2, p. 231)

Narrating is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education. A creative fiat calls it forth. ‘Let him narrate’; and the child narrates, fluently, copiously, in ordered sequence, with fit and graphic details, with a just choice of words, without verbosity or tautology, so soon as he can speak with ease. (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, p. 231)

Second, we can also find clues about how to encourage our students to make narrations their own in Carrie Austin’s own words.

Children who have gotten into the habit of reading good literature absorb what they will from it themselves, in their own way, whether it’s a lot or a little. Reading living books and narrating from them helps children to begin to form their own literary style. Because they have been in the company of great minds, their style will not be an exact copy of any one in particular, but will instead be shaped as an individual style from the wealth of materials they possess to create a natural style of their own.

Narration done properly develops the power of self-expression and invites a child’s personality to become part of the learning process. A child should choose vocabulary he finds appealing, make it his own, and then give it forth again with that own unique touch that comes from his own mind. This is why no two narrations should be exactly alike, and it is also why teachers should not expect their children to give the same narration they would have given. (Carrie Austin, taken from the Appendix of Heart of Dakota’s guides)

Third, putting it all together, we can encourage our students to make narrations their own in these ways.
  • To encourage our students, we can be open to them adding their own personal touches to the narration.
  • To help our students love to narrate, we can help them learn to love reading first. We can do this by not interposing ourselves between the book and the child.
  • We can view narrating to be a work of art done by the child, flowing freely from them and unheeded by interruptions from us.
  • As students grow and mature, we can expose them to many different literary styles. From this, we can expect their own narrating style to emerge slowly over time.
  • We can expect our student’s personality to become a part of the narration.
  • As students connect with what they have read, we can expect them to choose vocabulary or phrasing from the author that appealed most to them.
  • Finally, we can encourage our students to narrate in their own style by not imposing our own narration style upon them. We have our own style of narrating, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be their style.
So, what are some examples of students making oral narrations their own?

My son, Emmett, likes to give most of his oral narrations cuddled up on the couch with me. He does not want any time to compose himself before narrating. Rather, he likes to charge into it, beginning narrating immediately following the reading. He tends to remember exact phrasing or vocabulary easily. He really seems to love ‘words’ or certain ‘phrases’ and commits them to memory naturally. So, he automatically includes his favorite ‘turn of the phrase’ type quotes from the author within his narrations. His best narrations are those that I’ve remembered to tell him he will be narrating prior to the reading. He seems to just pay attention better, and he plans his narration as I read or as he reads.

What type of narration fits Emmett’s style the best, and what type doesn’t?

His favorite type of narration assigned in the plans is the ‘props’ narration. Gathering a few props, he retells the story with incredible detail. During his favorite narration ‘props’ assignment, he narrates for looooooong periods of time. I’ve learned to let him. He loves this narration so much that he will look ahead in the guide. He counts the days until he can narrate in this style again. However, it is the narration he does not enjoy as much, the summary narration, that he needs the most.

I have taught him to notice the subheadings or to think of the biggest things that happen during the reading when he will have to do a summary narration. He doesn’t like it because he can’t work all of his favorite quotes from the author into 5 sentences, but that’s ok. He can on virtually every other kind of narrating, and I’ve grown to love his style of orally narrating because of it!

Oral Narration with Props for CTC’s Storytime (Notice the toothpick ‘staff’ for the Beanie Balz and his ‘shepherd’ headdress.)
What if movement is something a narrator wants to incorporate into his style?

My son, Riley, likes to give his oral narrations standing. He is a pacer, and he likes to gesture with his hands. When he was younger, he would fidget on the couch, bumping into me, sloshing my coffee. Sometimes he would be sitting up on his haunches, like a rocket ready to launch! I don’t know why it took so long to occur to me that sitting on the couch next to me was not the best location for his narrations! I guess we just had always read on the couch, and the narration followed.

Anyway, we began to experiment with movement for Riley during his narrations. All did not go well at first. Sometimes he would pace to the next room, his narration fading so I couldn’t hear him anymore. Other times he had something in his hand while gesturing, like a clicky pencil. The pencil began clicking, tapping, flipping, and the storyline was lost.

We ended up settling upon movement was fine within his oral narrations if he stayed in a small area in front of me. Also, gestures and movements had to fit with what he was saying and not detract from it. Finally, he had to imagine he was giving his narration to a group of listeners rather than just ‘mom.’ Riley has made movement a natural part of his narrations now. He does so well!

What type of narration fits Riley’s style the best, and what type doesn’t?

Riley’s favorite kind of narration is the detailed narration. He narrates as if he’s having a conversation with me. He likes to first catch me up on anything I may have missed in the story since the last time he narrated. Really, it is kind of like he’s narrating twice, but I let it go. He loves it! Then, he tells me he’s ‘officially starting his narration.’ He likes to then look at the book, skim it, and mentally plan for a bit before he begins. He usually quotes the first sentence at the start.

During the narration, he includes a fair share of emotions. He laughs telling parts he things are incredulous. During parts that are upsetting or unbelievable to him, he shakes his head or sighs. For exciting parts, he raises his voice – he might even say, “It was just so amazing! I mean, can you believe they were able to build that structure with no machines and have it be rock solid?!? Amazing! Anyway…” He truly interacts with the author by connecting to the storyline, and I have grown to love his style of narrating because of it!

Riley’s Oral Narration for World Geography (Notice his favorite place to stand is in front of the fireplace in our living room, as it has lots of space to move.)
How can a logical narrator add personality and style to narrating?

My son, Wyatt, likes to give his oral narrations sitting separate from me. Often times he will even lay down on the couch as he gives his narration, while I am sitting in the chair opposite him. He finds this much more relaxing than standing in front of me as if he were addressing a group. He also likes a little space between us, sitting separately so he can compose his thoughts. Wyatt is a logical narrator, and he loves to tell stories chronologically, from start to finish. As a younger child, he much preferred summary narrations. He liked how concise they were, and he enjoyed giving sequential points in response to the readings. His narrations sounded somewhat encyclopedia-like, and I did not know how to draw out his personality in them. Turns out I didn’t have to. Time and varied oral narrations planned in the guides did it for me.

What type of narration fits Wyatt’s style the best, and what type doesn’t?

Wyatt is a big picture narrator, and he absolutely loves to read! He always has a book in his hand, in or out of school. This exposure to excellent literature in HOD over time has helped him develop his own narrating style. Years of reading excellent living books have given him countless connections. When I think of Charlotte Mason’s ‘broad-backdrop’ of history needing to be learned prior to putting ‘hooks’ into it for specific time periods, I think of Wyatt. He has the broad backdrop running in his mind seamlessly. Whatever he reads gets simulated into that backdrop, and it makes his oral narrations all the better.

When he narrates about Teddy Roosevelt, it is like he personally knows him. Then I remember he read “To Carry a Big Stick” earlier, and it makes sense to me why he talks about Teddy like an old friend when he’s really narrating on what he read briefly about him in America: The Last Best Hope. He narrates drawing upon all of his years of reading living books and crafting the best big picture narration he can, and I have grown to love his style of narrating because of it!

Wyatt’s Oral Narration for USII (Notice he is comfiest on the couch, with me sitting opposite him in a chair.)
Students become well-rounded narrators by giving a variety of narrations, rather than just their favorite type.

You may be wondering why I didn’t share what type of narration doesn’t fit Wyatt’s style.  That’s because there isn’t one anymore.  His style has become so adaptable that he can apply it to any kind of narration quite naturally. He enjoys narrating.  Any kind.  To share his thoughts on what he has read is as natural to him as breathing, and he has learned to love it as much as he loves the books he reads.

So, though it is tempting to just have the child narrate in their favorite way all of the time, it does them no favors. Often it is the case that if a narration assignment is not their favorite, they are not as good at it. To encourage our students to be the best narrators they can be, they need to learn to narrate in many different ways. It is through years of exposure to various authors’ styles in living books that your own students’ styles of narration will emerge! And then, through patience and encouragement, you too will be able to say ‘you have grown to love their style of narrating’ because of it!

In Christ,


P.S. To learn more about Charlotte Mason’s written narrations as a form of assessment, click here!

P.S.S. To understand where summarizing comes into narration, click here!

Five Simple Steps to Help Your Student Become a Strong Writer

From Our House to Yours

A Trend in Writing to Ponder

Each day I get to help families with placement in Heart of Dakota. I’ve enjoyed doing this for over a decade and consider it an incredible blessing and a privilege! I see a trend for many students who come to Heart of Dakota from other curricula.  They are often placing lower on the placement chart in writing, spelling, and grammar.  They have done much work orally. But, now that they are getting older, parents are looking ahead to middle school and high school work. They are concerned their students won’t be ready.

Impact on Spelling and Editing Skills

Since much of the work was done orally by students, their spelling has also been impacted. They just have not written enough to form the habit of spelling well. Likewise, they have done little to no editing of their own written work. The parent has not been editing either, as students have been doing their work orally. This leaves the parent with all of the responsibility of editing a larger volume of work, as students should be writing more as they mature.  So, a responsibility that should be shared or shifting more to the student has landed soundly in the parent’s lap!  Not what we busy homeschool moms need, right?!?

How Reading Aloud Everything Can Impact Students’ Writing

When older students are combined with much younger students and therefore everything must be read aloud either by them or the parent, their writing is impacted. Seeing the text on the page as you read in your head fixes proper spelling in your mind.  This in turn helps you have a better chance of spelling words correctly in your own writing.  Older students who have not read independently often do not write well independently for this reason. This is why Charlotte Mason advocated students at the age of 9 be responsible for their reading. Can you think back to yourself as a 5th grade student? I know, for some of us, this is going waaaaaay back.  But, thinking back, how would your teachers reading everything aloud to you have impacted your writing?  Probably significantly, and not in a way you’d like.

The good news – Heart of Dakota’s plans are designed to help students improve their writing!

Students incrementally become stronger writers using Heart of Dakota’s plans!  Simply following the daily plans and using the writing helps in the appendix of each guide helps students gradually improve.  However, what do you do if you are coming to Heart of Dakota later?  Or, what if you did Heart of Dakota from the start, but you altered the plans so work was done orally instead?  Well, take heart!  Students can and will improve given time, as they create new writing habits.  So, here are 5 tips to help your children strengthen their writing skills and be on the road to writing well!

#1: Follow Heart of Dakota’s plans by requiring all writing in assignments to be completed.

Start small if need be!  Students assigned to write 5- 7 sentences for a written narration should start with 5 good short sentences.  Quality trumps quantity to begin with!  Students should use proper spelling in all copywork, written narrations, and formal writing assignments. However, editing writing in all subject areas helps as well.  So, if you see a word spelled wrong in science, for example, try to help them fix it. Though work need not be perfect, spelling is something to try to edit in all subject areas as much as possible.

A word on this poster had to be fixed because it was misspelled. Not fun to fix, but in the end, he was happier to share his work knowing it was spelled right!
#2: Use the editing tips in the back of the guide.

Take time to edit to help your student become a strong writer! Working through the list following the directions in the Appendix will help students form good editing habits.  The responsibility for editing will gradually shift more from you to your students.  As this happens, your kiddos will learn writing carefully from the start equals less editing at the end. Keep in mind, students write one draft for written narrations.   A parent should not require a student to rewrite an entire written narration in a second or third draft.  Rather, students edit their first draft to the best of their ability with a parent offering help and encouragement as needed.

Riley’s Written Narrations in World Geography
#3:  Do dictation every day you homeschool.

Heart of Dakota’s plans assign dictation 3 out of 4 days a week.  Struggling spellers can see more improvement in their spelling by doing dictation daily. Be sure to follow the directions at the start of dictation carefully, as they follow Charlotte Mason’s tried and true methods.  For one of my sons who struggled with spelling, we did dictation daily.  It took his scores on standardized testing from below average to above average.  He didn’t become a stellar speller overnight, mind you!  But, slow and steady consistent dictation and editing helped him improve greatly!

#4:  Students should read when assigned to do so.

Carrie wrote Heart of Dakota’s plans to include living books. She chose these books specifically with reading roles in mind.  Students placed properly in a guide can independently read what has been assigned or quickly grow into the reading.  Carrie didn’t forget parents’ love to read aloud either! Parents always get to enjoy reading something too.  I love the books I get to read aloud with my sons!  But, I also love my sons enjoying reading on their own too! Keep in mind not all living books function best as read alouds.  Likewise, the reading assignments vary in length.  Some readings are long!  Students are meant to read them more quickly independently. As Charlotte Mason advocated children 9 years or older begin doing their own reading, Carrie chose books with this in mind.

#5: Teach students to shrink their writing to fit on notebook paper.

Students who are new to writing often write quite large.  They also often do not know how to write with proper spacing.  Writing on lined notebook paper for subjects such as R & S English, science questions, Common Place book entries, etc. can be a challenge.  You can help by pointing out the left and right margins.  Likewise, you can draw their attention to spacing between words.  Helping them visualize a dotted line within the wide line also helps with writing lower case letters.  Students can skip lines, as this helps them better see how to edit their written work.  They can also experiment with various pencils and grippers, until they find what they like best. Parents can jot editing notes in the margin for easy reference.

Emmett’s Writing on Notebook Paper and My Editing Marks in the Margin

I use these tips with my own sons each day!  I have seen such improvement in writing, spelling, and grammar through the years with Heart of Dakota.  My job as editor decreases and shifts to my sons’ job as they mature.  This is what helps them be able to write well without me!  And that, in my mind, is the final goal for writing!  Hope this helps as you encourage your own kiddos to become the best writers they can be!

In Christ,


P.S. For more on written narrations as a form of assessment, click here!

P.S.S. For more on dictation as a way to teach spelling to struggling students, click here!

Meeting Times for Correcting Homeschool High School Work

From Our House to Yours

Heart of Dakota’s plans make it easy to see what must be accomplished each day!

This From Our House to Yours will focus on high school planned meeting times.  High school is a new and exciting time for parents and students alike!  Heart of Dakota makes this transition smoother in 4 ways! First, Heart of Dakota guides use easy-to-follow 2-page daily plans, just 4 days a week.  Second, each credit includes detailed plans labeled “T” teacher-directed, “S” semi-independent, and “I” independent.  This makes parent and student roles clear.  Third, parents love the detailed course descriptions, suggested grading, and transcript helps. Fourth, students love the clear plans for each day’s work!  Finally, you should always check your individual state requirements for high school. But, your student should typically earn all credits and electives necessary by doing HOD’s 4 high school guides!

So, now that we know the plans are complete, how do we as parents correct high school work?

Each high school guide’s introduction has detailed suggested grading for each credit earned.  From this, we can make professional transcripts easily and inexpensively by using each HOD guide’s course titles and descriptions.  We can also use the website to input our student’s transcript details.  I especially love this website because it figures my students’ GPA automatically!  With all of this help, the only thing I’m left with is finding time to teach and to correct work. I’ve found one successful way to do this is to use planned meeting times!

What are planned meeting times?

I use planned meeting times to teach and to correct my children’s work.  We set specific times to meet within the day.  I’ve found 2-3, or even 4 planned meeting times work well.  My kiddos often complete some work independently first, and then they take this work to our first meeting time.  My first meeting time with my 9th grader using World Geography happens around 7:30 AM in the morning.  He comes with his completed independent work from the night before.  (As he is a bit of a night owl, he likes to do about 1 hour’s worth of independent work for the next school day the night before.)  He also completes his Bible from 7 to 7:30 AM prior to the meeting. Our first meeting time includes going over completed work from Bible, the Living Library, Spanish, and World Religions and Cultures.

World Geography Mapping the World with Art
So, what does he share from each of these subjects?

For Bible, he reads aloud his answers to me from Rooted and Grounded.  He also shares his prayer journal, unless it is more private.  On days 1 and 3, I have him say his memorized Scripture verses for me.  I also correct his Common Place Book entry if he had one.  (If he had Practical Happiness, I read it on my own and so does he, annotating as we read.  We meet at the third meeting time to go over the devotion.) For the Living Library, he reads aloud his sentence summary.  I check to be sure it contains the main characters, main goal and action taken, main conflict, and the setting.  Skimming the pages of the book’s daily reading is enough for me to see if he is on track for this 10% extra credit assignment.  I also check any special assignments noted for this in the plans (i.e. if he was to star, cloud, circle, etc certain things).  I correct his Spanish using the answer key, and I have him orally translate/read the odd problems aloud referencing the key as needed.  For World Religions and Cultures, I have him hand me the book he read open to the first page’s reading.  I skim the beginning, middle, and end of the reading.  Also, I read the key idea in the guide.  Finally, we either correct his bookmark together, or I listen to his oral narration with book in hand.

World Religions and Cultures Bookmark
What does the rest of his day look like?

After the first planned meeting time, he checks off the Living Library, World Religions and Cultures, Foreign Language, and Bible boxes.  They are done – hooray!  Next, we discuss what he needs to do for his EIW composition or R & S English grammar part of the plans.  He works on this independently then, while I do a planned meeting time with a different child.  His next planned meeting time is around 8:20 to 8:30 AM, whenever he completes his composition or grammar. I correct his written work by having him read it aloud to me.  He reads with pencil in hand, making any corrections he sees he needs to make first on his own. Then, I help him correct any mistakes using the grammar answer key or the EIW daily plans/rubric.  We check the Composition/Grammar box off in the plans, and he is off to chores and breakfast!

How does he finish out the plans?

After breakfast, he completes his World Geography, Geography Activities, Literature, and Logic boxes.  I pop in the living room to hear his oral narrations, correct his map work, edit his written work, discuss/check his literature, and check his logic answers.  We love this time together, and the key ideas and answer keys make it fairly easy on me!  If he had Practical Happiness, we meet on the couch go discuss our annotations.  (It is more private there, and this is a special time 1 on 1 for us!) Finally, he completes his Science with lab and leaves it out on the counter for me to correct.  (I’ve let him correct his own science the second half of the year, as I corrected it the first half, and he always did well. He loves science!  So, I never worry about him skimping on this.)

Seven Wonders of the World Geography Activity

His math is taught by my oldest son, as he loves it and is a business major!  This was their idea – apparently I get somewhat tense teaching math, and they prefer doing it together without me.  Who knew?!?  Anyway, the math answer key makes this last subject easy peasy to correct. Then, drumroll, we are done!  Usually by 1:30 PM or so.  Not bad for 4 days a week of high school!  Hope this helps you see how planned meeting times can provide both special 1:1 teaching time and time to correct work!

In Christ,

Planned Meeting Times Make Correcting Homeschool Work Easier

How can planned meeting times help with correcting work more easily?

Plans may differ in level of involvement of teacher and student. But, they have one thing in common… the teacher must make sure the work has been done. This may be done by asking noted questions, checking written work, listening to the student, assisting in editing, etc. But, no matter how correcting is done, it is the teacher making sure all work is completed properly. One thing that makes correcting Heart of Dakota homeschool work super easy is to do it during planned meeting times!

This week, I’ll share how I correct work for my son who is using Creation to Christ. Next week, I’ll share how I correct work for my son in World Geography. Finally, the following week, I’ll share how I correct work for my son in U.S. History II.

Planned Meeting Time for Correcting Creation to Christ’s Bible Quiet Time and Teaching Dictation and Math

For all planned meeting times, Emmett must come with his guide, his books he’s used, and all completed work.  He must also bring any subjects I will be teaching during our meeting time.  For the first planned meeting time, he has completed his Bible Quiet Time.  I also teach dictation and math during this first meeting time.  For Bible Quiet Time, I simply ask him if he did each part and then follow the question up with additional checking.  Children are generally honest when asked direct questions!  I have the guide in hand, he has his Bible in hand, and we meet upstairs first thing in the morning.

Our conversation (which is in italics) during this first planned meeting time goes something like this…
  • Did you read pages 123-124?  What did you find most interesting about it? Oh, I love that part about Jesus too!  Did you pray your prayer of ‘supplication?’  Do you want to share what you prayed for, or is it more private? Ok, that’s ok!  I keep some of my prayers private too!
  • Highlighting your verse in your Bible was part of this lesson.  Can you show me your highlighted verse? Good job!
  • Did you sing with your Phil 2 CD?  Oh good, singing praises to the Lord is so important!  Why don’t you sing or say your verses for me?  Thanks – great job! (I only have him say his verse 1 or 2 times a week.)
  • Today was a day you were supposed to copy your verse in your Common Place Book.  Can you show me that?  Oh shoot!  You forgot!  Let’s do it now then.  Next time, try to read your plans more carefully and have your work done by the time we meet, ok?  But, good job overall!
  • Finally, I end this first planned meeting time teaching dictation and math.  I correct both of these immediately, with answer keys in hand.  I help him fix any mistakes in his dictation and math.
  • Then, we check off Bible Quiet Time, dictation, and math!  Hooray!
Planned Meeting Time for Correcting Creation to Christ’s Reading about History and Teaching Storytime, Genesis Study or Geography of Holy Lands, Poetry, and History Project

Emmett and I meet on the couch for this meeting time, as we like to cuddle up and read there.  First, Emmett shows me his Reading about History work he completed independently.  Next, I read his Storytime and do the assigned follow-up skill with him.  Then, I read either his Genesis study or his Geography of the Holy Lands.  We do any follow-ups and then read his poetry.  Finally, we discuss what he needs to do to finish his poetry on his own.  We also read through his History Project box directions, and I help him set up for that at the kitchen table.

Genesis Study on the Couch Together
Our conversation (which is in italics) during this second planned meeting time goes something like this…
  • Did you read p. 83-85 of Ancient Rome?
    • Research – Day 1:  Where did you look to find your research answers? Then, I ask the research questions.  The directions say to answer one or more of the questions, so I don’t require answers for them all.  He has his answers jotted on a markerboard ready to share.
    • Copywork – Day 2:  Can you read me the portion you chose from today’s reading you found memorable?  Be sure to read with pencil in hand, so you can make any corrections you think you need to as you read.  Let’s see your picture you drew.  Great job!  Please fix these things. (I put a sticky note with editing corrections next to the box for easy reference.  He corrects these immediately.)
    • Timeline – Day 3:  Can you show me your timeline entries?  Oh, I love the shield especially!  Can you use your guide to fix the spelling on the caption though?
    • Written Narration – Day 4: Did you read p. 90-94 of Ancient Rome?  Please read aloud your written narration.  Please be sure to have pencil in hand, in case you notice any corrections on your own as you read.  Good job fixing that misspelled word!  I loved the part your chose about Jesus’ resurrection too!  You still need to highlight the main idea though.  Do you see, here, where it asks you do that in your guide? Let’s find the main idea together.  Looking at your editing checklist, you did a great job with indenting and choosing a topic sentence!  You’re missing some punctuation though.  Listen to me read this, and see where I pause so you know where to add punctuation.  Let’s fix the misspelled words too.  We fix this all quickly together.
  • Finally, I end this second planned meeting time teaching his Genesis Study or Geography of the Holy Lands.  We do any follow-ups questions.  Map work is saved for the kitchen table, and I use the map answer key to correct it there.  Finally, we read his poetry and make a plan for what he needs to do to finish it on his own.  We also read the directions for the history project and make a plan for him to complete that.
  • Then, we check off Reading about History and Genesis or Geography Study!  He finishes his poetry and history project independently at the kitchen table.
Creation to Christ History Project
 Planned Meeting Time for Correcting Creation to Christ’s Poetry and History Project, and Teaching Grammar, DITHOR, and/or Write with the Best

Emmett and I meet at the kitchen table to first quickly correct his poetry and his history project.  (If it is a sharing day for the poem, we meet in the addition, and he shares with me and his brothers.) Next, I teach grammar, Write with the Best, and/or DITHOR, depending which are scheduled for the day.  Then, I go through his Independent History Study and Science Exploration directions with him.  We set out anything he needs to complete these.  Finally, he finishes the independent parts of DITHOR, grammar, and WWTB with me nearby to help.  I correct them as soon as he’s done, and he finishes his day with his independent history study and science.  These are left out on the kitchen table for me to correct before or after lunch.  As this is getting long – sorry – I won’t include my conversation during this block!

Creation to Christ Science Exploration
Planned meeting times help me stay on top of teaching and correcting!

Planned meeting times help ensure I get both my correcting and my teaching done.  Usually around 3 meeting times have worked well with my younger children.  Two meeting times have been enough with my older children.  The times with older students are much shorter in keeping with the increase in independent work. Planned meeting times make every child feel special.  Important skills are taught from year to year, and meeting times help none to be missed.  Meeting times also mean I’m done with both my teaching and correcting by early afternoon.  My kiddos are too!  This makes our homeschool time a happy time! It is kept in balance, so we can enjoy both our homeschooling and our free time.  Try some planned meeting times in your day!  You may find you love it – just like we do!

In Christ,

P.S. To find out more about having a written routine, click here!