Placement Help for Changing to Heart of Dakota Mid-Year

Pondering Placement

Placement Help for Changing to Heart of Dakota Mid-Year

I will be changing my 9 year-old son back to Heart of Dakota (HOD) mid-year. He completed Little Hearts for His Glory for first grade and Beyond for second grade. Then, I switched to something else. I don’t know why really because we loved HOD. Now my son is in week 18 of this other homeschool program for 3rd grade. We are both so unhappy. My son now hates to write. This program doesn’t have much notebooking or narrating this year. Basically, I am reading books to him, but we are really not doing anything else. We’ve done a little copywork, but not much. We use other programs than HOD for math and spelling. A few days a week, I’m using BJU for writing and English. We are both missing HOD terribly. I’m also just not seeing the growth in my son like I did with HOD. Please help me with changing my son back to HOD mid-year!

My son’s two favorite things this year have been the two I’ve kept from HOD.

I knew my son would love reading HOD’s Emerging Reader’s Set.  So, I did get those. However, he hasn’t been doing any kind of literature study with them. I also liked HOD’s recommendation for R & S English 2, so we are doing that. Really the only two things we have liked doing this year are from HOD. He reads well and is really enjoying the books in the Emerging Reader’s Set. He’s reading Tornado and can’t put it down! But then when he finishes reading, I don’t do anything with him. I’m just so depressed about homeschooling. I feel like I’ve wasted this whole year. Changing my son back to HOD – and soon – is a necessity.

I’m pondering changing my son to full-speed Bigger Hearts or half-speed Preparing Hearts. Thoughts?

So, now I know I want to make the switch back to HOD, even though it is mid-year (and then some). But, I am between two placements – stopping what we are doing now and changing to Bigger Hearts for His Glory? But then, he won’t finish all of HOD’s high school guides. So, would it be better changing to half-speed with Preparing Hearts for His Glory? What are your thoughts, Carrie?

Carrie’s Reply:

From what you’ve shared so far about your son, I would lean toward changing what your son is doing by placing him in Bigger Hearts. The jump up to Preparing with the struggles you mentioned in writing and narrating would be very challenging. Bigger is such a foundational year in helping kiddos grow in the areas of writing, reading, copywork, and spelling. I wouldn’t want your son to miss that. So, placement in Bigger Hearts makes good sense.

I’d suggest finishing R & S English 2 and changing from BJU

Whenever you head into Bigger, I would just finish Rod and Staff English 2 and move into Rod and Staff English 3. I wouldn’t use both BJU and Rod and Staff for English as you go up. This would be double-dipping.  We don’t want your son worn out from writing for grammar when we want to get him copying daily for practice. You wouldn’t need to continue on with BJU for writing either, as Rod and Staff will include writing in the coming levels when he is more mature and ready for it.

I’d suggest changing to studied dictation for spelling and continuing with your math.

For spelling, I’d be lean toward changing him to studied dictation (which is included in Bigger‘s Appendix). If you would rather continue with the spelling you are using, you surely could! However, I will say Charlotte Mason’s method of studied dictation is a very effective method for teaching spelling in a time conscious way. No matter what, I wouldn’t do both spelling programs though because his day will get very long. If your math is working well, I’d just keep on going with it. If it is not, you can give your son the Singapore Primary Math placement test by clicking here.

Your son can finish the Emerging Reader’s Set and then move into Drawn into the Heart of Reading.

It sounds like he is doing well with the Emerging Readers Set (ERS), which you can feel so good about. Rather than changing from that, he can just finish the ERS out. I would have him start doing the follow-up comprehension questions with the  ERS books he has left. Then, he can head into Drawn into the Heart of Reading Level 2/3 (DITHR). He can use the DITHR Level 2 Book Pack or books of your own choosing. The Sample Book Ideas List provides some good books to choose from as well.

Changing to Full-Speed Bigger Hearts vs. Half-speed Preparing Hearts

Honestly, changing to Bigger Hearts full-speed with daily grammar, math, dictation, and DITHR will probably be harder than changing to half-speed Preparing Hearts. It sounds like your son would be so well-placed in Bigger and be challenged by the work. Being well-placed means that he will be getting what he needs as he moves into each successive guide. Shooting for a challenge level can really result in frustration and in being unsure of how much to downsize each day to suit your child’s needs. It’s so much better to be accurately placed and know you can expect your child to do all that is within the guide each day. There are many families who will not finish all of the HOD guides, and that is fine. We can make sure that your son still gets what he needs to count credits for graduation and for his future plans.

Blessings,
Carrie

What would my son be missing out on if he doesn’t have proper placement?

Pondering Placement

What would my son be missing out on if I combine him in a guide  that isn’t his proper placement?

I am on the fence about which guide(s) to choose for proper placement. One son likes American history and reading about wars. The other son doesn’t say what he likes. He is probably too young to know. Honestly, he doesn’t even know much about history yet to say what he’d like. I don’t want to choose to combine in a guide just based on my oldest son’s placement and interests. I really like the progression of skills and learning I see in Heart of Dakota’s guide sequence. Both sons would benefit from proper placement.

Deep down, I know my younger son can’t do the same work my older son can do. I don’t want to combine just to combine. I want both sons to have proper placement. So, I THINK I know the answer, but still, I’ll ask the question. What would my son be missing out on if I combine him in a guide that doesn’t fit him on the placement chart?

Carrie’s Reply:

When I was in high school, I played volleyball and basketball. I had always “started” throughout middle school and into high school, until my sophomore year. In that year of basketball, I had a coach with whom I had a personality conflict. The conflict was that he did not like my personality, and I didn’t particularly love his! Now hopefully I have grown and matured since then. However, the point is that I ended up on the bench for almost the entire season. After that year, I went on to a different coach and was back to “starting” again.  No one can ever tell me that you feel a part of a team when you’re sitting and observing, watching, and listening from the bench!

Proper Placement Considerations for Little Ones

Often in homeschooling, we let our little ones sit on the “bench”, simply observing, watching, and listening in but rarely getting them truly involved in the “game”. So, at HOD, we write our guides with family balance in mind. It is so easy for families to get out of balance by targeting one or more key members of the family and targeting the teaching toward that child. When grouping large age ranges together, the parent must choose what age to target their teaching toward, and often teaching is targeted toward the older child. In that case the older child is receiving the skills he/she needs, while the youngers are simply tagging along, which often equates to sitting on the bench.

Proper Placement – the Key to Balance

Proper placement in HOD is the key to balance within a family, making sure all learners are getting the needed balance that gets them involved in the learning. Our HOD guides seek to balance time spent on various subjects within the school day, the amount of time required to complete a guide each day, the teaching time required by the teacher in presenting and guiding lessons each day, the time and attention given to various skills within the day, the way various learning styles are addressed within the day, and the individual time given to children at various age levels during the day. In this way, every child is participating and learning, and no one is left simply watching and listening.

Blessings,
Carrie

Does MTMM need the extensions to be appropriate for grade 9?

Pondering Placement

Does MTMM need the extensions to be appropriate for grade 9?

Great question! Yes, it does! That is the reason for the MTMM Extension Pack. It is meant to raise the level of the study in the guide to be able to include high school students. (High school students are technically outside of the target age range of the guide). The extension books are chosen to show different sides of issues and situations that students are often reading about briefly in the text. This is a different experience than simply reading books for pleasure. Instead, each extension book holds a purposeful place in the telling of history. It adds many facets to the study that require the student to think and assimilate information on a higher level.

High school students should do both the extension readings and the follow-up assignments.

Additionally, we are assuming that students at the extension level are also doing the recommended written narration/oral narration/and research follow-ups. This really raises the level of the Extension Pack.  The student is made to sift and sort through what was read to share about it in a Charlotte Mason way. Without doing the follow-ups, your child is missing the upped level of skills needed for a high school student in writing written narrations, giving oral narrations, and choosing topics of interest to include for research/notebooking. (This is described fully in the Appendix). I would consider both the extension readings and the follow-ups to be a necessary part of the readings at the 9th grade level. 

Extension books may be found on audio or read by a parent for students who have reading challenges.

I will mention that for those students who have reading challenges, my response may differ. That is because students who have difficulties reading will flounder under the weight of more reading. In this case, perhaps some books in the Extension Pack could be found as audios to listen to. Some could also possibly be read aloud by a parent. Others who have difficulties in the area of reading may have to omit the extensions all together. This is because school is such a challenge already without adding more. This would definitely be the exception, however.

Blessings,
Carrie

Choosing Between Preparing Hearts and Creation to Christ

Pondering Placement

Choosing Between Preparing Hearts and Creation to Christ

My fourth grade daughter is just turning 10. She has taken her time in becoming independent in her reading. Last year she got through about Unit 24 in Bigger Hearts and did really well. She did not continue into Preparing Hearts because I wanted her to spend lots of time on intense phonics review and reading. Blessedly, she’s grown leaps and bounds in her reading. She can orally narrate and write about 3-5 simple sentences. Also, she’ll complete Singapore 3B, Dictation 2, Rod and Staff 3, WWE 3, and 3rd grade readers. She is self motivated. Yet, she can be a big complainer if she thinks she cannot do something. I’m not quite sure if she can do DITHOR 4/5. One minute I’m convinced she should be in Preparing Hearts then I switch to CTC. What do you think?

Carrie’s Reply to Choosing Between Preparing Hearts and Creation to Christ

With what you’ve shared so far, I’d be inclined to suggest Preparing Hearts. I am basing this mostly upon her reading and writing level. Creation to Christ (CTC) is also quite a step up in independence and in reading and following lengthy written directions. I would be hesitant to put a child who has been a bit of a late bloomer in reading into CTC without first having that child go through the stepping stones that are built into Preparing Hearts.

I’d recommend Preparing Hearts with DITHR Level 3 books.

I think that a year in Preparing Hearts would also keep her from being too overwhelmed with the addition of DITHR to her days. With this in mind, I’d lean toward having her do Preparing Hearts with DITHR Level 2/3 (if she hasn’t already done it) or 4/5 (if she has already been through DITHR 2/3). I’d also lean toward the level 3 Book Pack (which actually has a reading level in the range of 3.5-5.1). If you think that is too young, you could move into the 4/5 Book Pack. However, I would do that with some hesitation as you want to encourage her to feel good about her reading without overwhelming her.

I’d recommend R & S English 4 half-speed, as well as the Preparing Hearts poetry writing lessons.

I would have her move on into Rod and Staff English 4 at half speed, spreading each lesson out over 2 days. Then, I’d move onto dictation Level 3 (which is in the Appendix of Preparing Hearts). I would move away from Writing with Ease, as you’ll have too much duplication between that program and the writing across the curriculum we do in Preparing Hearts (through guided written narration, oral narration, and dictation). I would make sure to do the writing lessons from the poetry as scheduled in Preparing Hearts to build those writing skills that are not covered elsewhere in our guide or in Rod and Staff. She will also be getting quite a bit of writing instruction through Rod and Staff.

I’d recommend Singapore 4A and the Preparing Hearts Deluxe and Science packages.

She can also move easily into Singapore 4A as that is scheduled in the Preparing Hearts Appendix. I would have her do the Deluxe Package with Preparing and also the science too. These will be her independent areas and will do a great job of building independence incrementally.

I’d definitely encourage a year in Preparing Hearts with your daughter, rather than jumping ahead to CTC.

In looking down the road at the level of reading, written work, and independence required in CTC and RTR on up, I would definitely encourage you to spend a year heading through Preparing  first with your daughter. The leap from completing 2/3 of Bigger and then jumping to CTC would be very huge (without having Preparing in between first).

Blessings,

Carrie

Placement for a 6-year-old at the Beginning Stages of Writing

Pondering Placement

Placement for a 6-year-old at the Beginning Stages of Writing

My son will be 6 in October, and this fall will be his kindergarten year. He just finished Pre-K at a private school. Looking at Heart of Dakota’s placement chart, we’ve already done three lessons in The Reading Lesson. He has caught on beautifully! For writing, his skills are in the beginning stages. Any time he sits down to write or color it is forced. I think it’s an issue of his will because he can draw a stick figure with most the body parts. He’s ready to use oral skills for grammar study. Math will be no problem! With handwriting being number two on the chart in order of importance, should I do Little Hands to Heaven? I feel he’d do great in Little Hearts for His Glory now. But, what if he’s not ready for the fine motor skills in Beyond Little Hearts the next year?

Carrie’s Reply to Placement for a 6-year-old at the Beginning Stages of Writing:

As I was reading through your initial post, I was thinking that Heart of Dakota’s Little Hearts for His Glory (LHFHG) would be a good fit for your son. It sounds like he fits well there on the placement chart, and much of what you shared as far as fine motor challenges isn’t that uncommon for boys upon entering LHFHG. Your description actually fit my own third little guy when he began LHFHG as he was turning 6. Many kiddos are at the beginning stages of writing when they begin LHFHG. So, that is quite normal!

LHFHG with the K options would take him from his beginning stages of writing and move him forward.

Two factors in considering whether to do LHFHG or whether to do Little Hands to Heaven with K options from LHFHG are your son’s age and the fact that he has already been through quite a bit of kindergarten readiness. Another factor is that he seems to really make strides when you work with him one-on-one. So, these factors make me lean more toward LHFHG with the K options, perhaps doing 4 days a week (and stretching 9 weeks into the next school year to finish).

Doing LHFHG 4 days a week would give him more time to progress from his beginning stages of writing.

This plan would allow him more time to progress from his beginning stages of writing before getting to Beyond. But, it would also keep him moving forward more closely with his age-mates. While I dislike comparison greatly, age does help give us some guidelines when were trying to decide between two good options. In your son’s case I think it tilts the decision more in favor of LHFHG. Once you get the guide and the books that go with it in hand, you’ll be able to tell better. You also are welcome to return anything within 30 days for a full refund or in exchange for something else. This should help ease the decision-making process a bit! I hope this is an encouragement to you!

Blessings!

Carrie