The checkmark method: a way to save sanity while teaching multiple guides!

Teaching Tip: 

Here is a sanity-saving tip for tracking your child’s work each day!

This week’s tip is a sanity saver for my family, especially as we are running multiple HOD guides each year! The “checkmark method”  is a very simple and effective way to keep track of what work has been completed and corrected each day.

Are you using your HOD guide as a correcting tool?

You may not know it, but your HOD guide was designed to aid you in keeping track of your child’s work. On each two-page spread of plans, your child’s work is conveniently divided into boxes. Each box contains assignments to be completed and corrected. Once a box has been completed and corrected, simply make a small checkmark in the top corner of the box. This checkmark shows that all work within the box has been completed and corrected.

Why is it it important for the parent to check the boxes?

The two operative words for our household in checking the boxes are “parent” and “corrected.” We used to let our kiddos check their boxes as they completed their work. Our boys sometimes became overly zealous in checking boxes before the work within the box was actually completed. At other times they missed things that were assigned within the box. Then, they checked the box off thinking they were done. This method left us unsure of whether the work had actually been corrected. So now, we make sure only the parent does the box checking! We check the box after the work has been corrected by the parent first.

Having a parent check the boxes provides a quick visual of what remains for your child to complete.

A checkmark in the corner of the box provides a quick visual of what has been looked over by a parent. At a glance, both parent and child can also see what still needs to be completed and corrected.

The checkmark method keeps your child accountable.

The checkmark method keeps your child accountable because he/she knows every box is going to be checked. With this method, only the parent can say when the work is truly done. Try this simple tip today! See if it makes it easier for you to keep track of correcting.

Blessings,
Carrie

Is your child placed in the right guide?

Teaching Tip

Is your child placed in the right guide?

At Heart of Dakota, correct guide placement is so important! This is because we do not have one-size fits all placement advice. Instead, we look at each child as an individual to determine his/her best placement. One of the gifts of homeschooling is being able to meet our children where they are and teach from there. So, correct placement makes a huge difference in how successful your child is in school. It also makes a huge difference in how much time a guide will take each day.

Wise counsel will help you determine your child’s best placement.

This is where wise counsel comes in to charting a good path. Surround yourself with wise counsel on this important decision from those who have used Heart of Dakota with their children. These wise advisers can help you talk through an accurate placement plan for your child. Remember that each child is a unique individual with unique needs. This means that placement may look different for same-aged students. By following the age line on our program selection chart, you can see several possible options for each age.

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for wise counsel, our Message Board is a great place to look! In addition to our wonderful community, Carrie and Julie also have a combined 18,000 personal responses to our users there. It’s a wonderful place to engage and learn with other homeschool moms!

Different family dynamics may result in differing guide placements.

Another factor in guide placement is family dynamics. Whether you desire to combine a student with another sibling is a factor in guide placement. Using our placement chart will help you determine whether children in your family could possibly be combined. Due to skill level some combinations work while others do not.

Different children in a family may have a different path.

Looking at each child as an individual means that different children in a family may have a different path. For example, one child may do Creation to Christ at age 9. Another may do the same guide at age 10. A third child may do the guide at age 11 or 12. Each of these placements will work, as long as the child is well-placed according to skill and family dynamics.

If a child is routinely struggling in a guide, it’s wise to check for correct placement.

If you find a child is routinely struggling with a guide, your child may be incorrectly placed. Or, if a guide seems way too easy, perhaps a move forward is needed. Sometimes changing guides is easier than tweaking guides for years to come. We are here to help with placement questions. To discuss your child’s placement, feel free to call us at 605-428-4068. Or, ask questions on the Message Board. As you ponder ask the Lord for discernment, and I know He will answer!

Blessings,
Carrie

Are you tempted to hibernate during this winter season?

Teaching Tip:

Are you tempted to hibernate during this winter season?

This time of year in South Dakota can really be a time when we’re tempted to be on the couch and hibernate! However, with 4 boys in our family, movement is a necessity.

A scheduled recess after lunch gets the kids moving.

We’ve found that it really helps to have a scheduled recess right after lunch. This works well because lunch is a time when we are all sitting down together for a scheduled break already.

Recess can be outdoors.

If we are heading outside, lunchtime is usually the warmest part of the day. So, after lunch is an ideal time to head outside. When our boys were younger, we told them unless it was raining, they would be going outside for recess no matter what. This cut down on the discussion as to whether it was too cold (or in the spring/summer too hot) to be outside. We just made sure to dress appropriately for the weather.

Recess can be indoors.

As our boys have gotten older, we have also added indoor recess options. The boys play ring toss, beanbag toss, mini-basketball, bulzibucket, mini-frisbee golf, ramp shot, nerf guns, etc. Sometimes they play board games.

A recess makes the rest of the day go better.

A non-negotiable recess time really makes the rest of our day go so much better. Our boys look forward to being together for recess. Even our older boys enjoy the break from school! So, how about you? Do you make sure your kiddos have a recess break as a part of their day? Try it and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

Don’t interrupt the flow of the reading.

Teaching Tip:

What is a “living book”?

Heart of Dakota’s curriculum is full of living books. Each living book is typically written by a single author who is very passionate about his/her topic. These books stand out for their conversational, narrative style and their ability to make almost any subject come to life. Living books are read in smaller segments slowly over time to allow your students to “live” with the books.

As you read aloud a living book, don’t pause during the reading to explain or question.

In a Charlotte Mason style living book reading, it is important not to stop and explain or question during the reading. You may be tempted to define difficult words, explain what is happening, or question your child to be sure he/she is understanding. While you may think you’re helping your child comprehend better by doing these things, you really aren’t!

Interrupting the flow of the reading makes it more difficult for the child to comprehend and make connections.

Charlotte Mason says that stopping during a reading to explain or question actually interrupts the flow of the reading. This makes it more difficult for the child to comprehend and make his/her own connections. So, whenever you feel the urge to pause during the reading to “help” your child, resist the urge and read on!

Reading without interruption, helps develop the habit of attention.

As your child learns to attend to a single reading, your child will be developing the habit of attention. This is a much needed habit to cultivate and isn’t one that occurs naturally in all kiddos. Try making a point not to interrupt the reading and see if your child eventually begins to attend better. I know I have been pleasantly surprised with my own boys when I tried this essential step when reading aloud!

Blessings,
Carrie

Have you trained your children in Charlotte Mason style skills?

Teaching Tip

Did your students jump into an upper Heart of Dakota guide?

If so, it is likely some skills your child is being asked to exhibit were practiced in previous guides. This means there will be a learning curve as your child adjusts to what the guide is asking. This curve will be especially noticeable with Charlotte Mason style skills that may be new to your student. When you jump into an upper Heart of Dakota guide, extra time will be required at first for training in these skills. Additionally, you may want to check out this post: Is Your Child Placed in the Correct Guide?

What Charlotte Mason style skills might require some training?

Skills like giving oral narrations and producing written narrations may be totally new to your student. Taking studied dictation and studying classic poetry may be new as well. Next, reading living books, creating notebook entries, sketching, and learning in a Charlotte Mason style fashion all might feel new too. In the end, if you don’t take time to train your child in these skills, it will be harder for your child to succeed.

Have you trained your kiddos in Charlotte Mason style skills?

Allow time in your schedule to give your children extra help in Charlotte Mason style skills. Your HOD guide will aid you in training your student in gaining these skills. Know that these skills do not develop overnight. They take training and time to hone. If you are new to Heart of Dakota, remember that your student may need to work up to the level of independence suggested in the guide. Always err on the side of giving help and encouragement to your child whenever needed. Finally, be patient, and you will eventually see fruit!

Blessings,
Carrie