As you begin planning a schedule for school…be realistic!

Teaching Tip 

As you begin planning a schedule for school…be realistic!

It is so easy to make a perfect school schedule on paper that falls apart in practice!  So, here are a few tips to help you make a more realistic schedule.

Consider whether you are a morning person.

When making a “school” schedule, be sure to take into account whether you are a morning person.  Then, set a realistic start time for your days. I am not a morning person!  So, for me breakfast at 9:00 with teaching at 9:30 is realistic. It is better to make a plan you can stick to rather than a “wishful” plan that quickly falls by the wayside.

Consider your child’s best work times.

It is also wise to take note of your child’s best work time.  Is your child a morning person?  Or, does he/she do better with a slower start? It is a good idea to schedule accordingly. For example, don’t schedule a child who has a hard time getting going in the A.M. with his/her hardest subjects first.

Consider your little ones first.

When planning for school, often our first thought is to schedule the school-age children.  If you have a 2 or 3 year old, it is more important to schedule that little one first.  If we expect our little ones to just “go with the flow,” what will happen?  A busy 2 or 3 year old can drag everyone else along as he/she quickly derails the day!

Spend some time over the next week noticing when you and your children are at your best.

As you begin mulling over a schedule, remember to be realistic with your expectations! Your year will run more smoothly if you schedule both you and your children when you are at your best!

Blessings,
Carrie

The way you handle breakfast sets the tone for your day

A streamlined lunch is a huge help in the homeschool day

Charlotte Mason’s Picture Study Inspires Art Appreciation

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason’s Picture Study Inspires Art Appreciation

Charlotte Mason loved to inspire children to appreciate art by using the format of picture study. According to Charlotte Mason, We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture. (Volume 1, p. 309)

So, how do you do Charlotte Mason style picture study?

It is not as hard as one might think! In fact, many times people try to over-complicate Charlotte Mason’s picture study. Simply put, during picture study children spend time studying artist’s pictures, absorbing their details, and discussing what they noticed. In the process of picture study, the goal is for children to learn to appreciate art. Through picture study according to Charlotte Mason, Children learn not merely to see a picture but “to look at it”, taking in every detail. (Volume 6, p. 214-215)

So, what does Carrie have to say about her journey with Charlotte Mason’s picture study?

Our family pursued Charlotte Mason style picture study for many years before I wrote it into our guides. I must admit I was extremely skeptical about the simplicity of the Charlotte Mason approach to picture study in the beginning. But, I have become a firm believer in it as the years have passed! Because of picture study, my kiddos and I have learned to appreciate and love beautiful art. We spent time studying pictures, absorbing each picture’s details, and discussing what each of us individually noticed. Best of all, we did find we truly learned to appreciate art in the process. We also learned art study doesn’t have to be long or in-depth to resonate. It just needs to be meditated upon and shared.

So, when is picture study included in Heart of Dakota?

Heart of Dakota includes picture study one day in each unit of Resurrection to Reformation.  Parent and student get to do art appreciation together, so both can enjoy it! Art prints for the picture study either use full-color prints from Looking at Pictures or from the full-color “Art Gallery” provided in the back of the Resurrection to Reformation Student Notebook. Looking at Pictures with its 150 stunning illustrations in full color from The National Gallery in London (including entries from Leonardo, Rembrandt, Matisse, Seurat, Picasso, and many more) partnered with the full color Art Gallery in RTR’s notebook work together beautifully!

Closing Thoughts

I don’t know about you, but I am personally thankful we get to enjoy Charlotte Mason’s ideals in such a way that I can actually do them! If I were to try to do every Charlotte Mason ideal every day or even every homeschool year, I think I would fall down eventually. I feel I have the best of both worlds with the way Carrie has written HOD’s guides. The tenets of Charlotte Mason are always present in the guides – dictation, copywork, oral narrations, written narrations, timelines/Book of Centuries, and living books. But, the other Charlotte Mason led activities (such as hymn study, composer study, nature study, and picture study) rotate. Each gets their moment in the sun! We get to do each activity thoroughly and completely, so we can remember and enjoy it for years to come.

My children will never walk into an art museum without appreciating the art they see, and I have Charlotte Mason and Carrie Austin to thank for that!

 How do we prepare a child, again, to use the aesthetic sense with which he appears to come provided? His education should furnish him with whole galleries of mental pictures, pictures by great artists old and new. (Charlotte Mason, Volume 6, p. 43)

 We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture. (Charlotte Mason, Volume 1, page 109).

In Christ,

Julie

 

How Best to Use the BJU Teacher’s Guide in HOD’s World Geography

Dear Carrie,

How do I best use the BJU Teacher’s Guide in HOD’s World Geography year?

We have used Heart of Dakota for many years and enjoyed it very much. My son and I just started World Geography, and our start went so well!  However, I have a quick question about the BJU teacher’s guide for literature. There are so many facets to the BJU teaching guide. So, my question is, do I have my student only answer the questions after the story when HOD’s World Geography plans say to do so? I hope so!  But, I am just checking to be sure. Thanks in advance for your help!

Sincerely,

“Please Help Me Know How to Best Use the BJU Teacher’s Guide”

Dear “Please Help Me Know How to Best Use the BJU Teacher’s Guide,”

I’d be happy to help you decide how to best use the BJU Teacher’s Guide!  I’ve had some practice figuring that out myself. We just completed the HOD World Geography guide this past year with our third son. So, I’ll share a few things we’ve discovered about the literature.

You can view the Student Reader as a series of living stories to be enjoyed.

As far as the BJU lit goes, it really helps if you can view the Student Reader as a series of living stories that we want the students to primarily enjoy as they read. We don’t want them to feel like they must also be dissecting as they read.  Likewise, we don’t want them to feel like they must elicit a whole host of specific responses. So, in order to allow them to enjoy the story, we must not get between the story and the reader. This means we need to let students just read the story from the reader without the aid of any Teacher’s Notes or without focusing on the end story questions the first trip through.

You can follow the HOD World Geography guide’s plans to know how to assign the questions in BJU.

Next, after reading the story, the HOD guide will assign the student questions from the end of the story. The World Geography plans will note when to answer in writing and when to meet with the teacher to discuss. Even at this point, it’s not advisable to be sharing all of the Teacher’s Notes for each question with the student. In fact, we don’t want to expect the student to answer even remotely as fully as the notes suggest. In my opinion, the notes are exhaustive and are meant to provide any and all possible answers that any student may share.

You can think of the Teacher’s Notes as Cliff Notes rather than as required answers.

I see the Teacher’s Notes as a Cliff’s Notes version meant to aid the teacher rather than as a grading rubric meant to show the ideal answer a student should give. Keep in mind that these notes were written for a classroom teacher. In a classroom, the discussion of a question would result in many varied responses. There would be a lengthy discussion from a whole group of students. This is a very different situation than we have in the homeschool setting with a single student being required to answer all the questions alone!

Students can read through the Teacher’s Notes just for the questions they are struggling to answer.

If the student is struggling with an answer to a question or has been especially short with an answer, then this is the time I’d have the student read through the Teacher’s Notes for only that question. The purpose of this is to simply give them a few more ideas of the direction he/she could have gone with his/her response. There is no need to have the student read the Teacher’s Notes for every question. This may result in the student feeling inferior and inadequate in his/her responses. We definitely don’t want the student thinking he/she can never come up with the breadth and insight the manual suggests for a response.

I learned a lot from using BJU American Lit along with full-length novels for my oldest son’s 11th grade year.

Before scheduling BJU lit for grade 9 in our World Geography guide, my oldest son and I went through BJU American Lit for his 11th grade year. The BJU American Lit is even fuller than the grade 9 lit! I also added a lot of full-length novels to my poor oldest son’s year. We learned a lot that year about what was too much for lit, about how many novels are appropriate to read,  and about what was really helpful or enjoyable overall.

So, as I began World Geography with my second son, I took a lower key approach to the BJU lit. I simply allowed him to read and do exactly what it says in the HOD World Geography guide’s plans.  Likewise, I did not delve so deeply into the BJU Teacher’s guide and all of its materials. We had a much better year, my son loved the stories, loved the boy set novels, and learned a lot!

You can use the manual more as a reference for your student’s answers.

So, I would encourage you to keep the manual only for reference for you as your student answers. Share the answers from the manual for only the questions that the student either misses entirely or answers very succinctly. Make sure you let your student know that the manual gives every answer you might encounter in a classroom of students. Be sure the student doesn’t feel like he never gets the answer “right.” So, by following the lit plans in the World Geography guide and by using the BJU Teacher’s Notes in this manner, your year in lit should be a terrific year!

Blessings,

Carrie

P.S. If you are new to Heart of Dakota, check out our Top Ten Questions!

P.S.S. If you are wondering about placement in high school in Heart of Dakota, click here!

 

Third or Fourth Grade Homeschooling – Preparing Hearts for His Glory

From Our House to Yours

Third or Fourth Grade Homeschooling with Heart of Dakota- Preparing Hearts for His Glory

With Heart of Dakota, there are flexible age ranges because, as we all know, not all kiddos at one age are the same. Preparing Hearts…, which will be the focus of this blog post, has a target age range of 8-10 (third or fourth grade), with extensions for ages 11-12 (fifth to sixth grade). It has complete plans for all necessary subject areas but customizable plans in reading, spelling, grammar, and math.  It is Christ-centered and full of Charlotte Mason style unforgettable living books. I’ve ‘met’ Preparing Hearts… myself 3 times with my 3 sons, so I’m pretty confident in saying, I think you will love her!

Preparing… says let’s give our children the backdrop. Let’s give them the timeline of history running from start to finish. Then, we will know they are well prepared for the ‘hooks’ of each of the 4 time periods to come in Hearts for Him Through Time.  Let’s also get them prepared for middle school work, by having them gradually take on some necessary independence. But, hold on to your hat! Let’s still recognize they are not all that grown-up, and let’s still plan for some needed time together. So, you can see Bigger Hearts… laid the foundation, but how does Preparing Hearts… answer back?

Preparing Hearts says, “Let’s grow up a little, but not too fast!”

Little brother Bigger Hearts… planned for a big teaching year.  He didn’t let anything slide because he knew how important it would be to prepare for Preparing.  He took a little time, depending on you as the parent to work side by side your child to lay that foundation well.  But, this is when you thank him, because here comes Preparing to prove your time in Bigger was well spent. Bigger… bows and happily hands the reins over to Preparing Hearts. Bowing back, Preparing Hearts… tips her hat to Bigger Hearts…, and says, “Thank you kindly, Bigger. I’ll take it from here! Now let’s just see what we can do!”

Introducing Some Notable and Exciting Changes in Preparing Hearts

You know how you worked alongside your children for most of Bigger Hearts? Well, Preparing Hearts will change that and in a way that is in no way confusing.  Little letters begin to show up in each box of your teacher guide’s plans. “T” for teacher-directed, “S” for semi-independent, and “I” for independent.  Why?  Because there is less confusion about who does what.

Charlotte Mason said when children reach the age of 9, they should begin reading their own books for all school subjects. Preparing recognizes this, but eases children into it by only assigning a manageable amount of reading each day.  A part of history with just a few directions to follow, all of science, and all of reading become the student’s reading responsibility for the day.

These readings and directions are short, and they are on the student’s appropriate reading level, so they can feel success with this newfound independence.  The Self-Study History Package for the Newly Independent Reader, the Science Package, and a choice of either the Level 2 or Level 3 or Level 4/5 Boy/Girl Drawn into the Heart of Reading book packages comprise their reading for the year. But, what else is a notable change, you may ask?

Well, say ‘goodbye’ to 5 days of school each week, and say ‘hello’ to 4!

Bigger Hearts was laying the foundation, so 5 days a week was important.  But, Preparing Hearts takes 5 days of work and converts them to 4 days a week, so your child (and you) can have a day off to explore other interests (or to just do the laundry).  Hmm, we like that, right?  But, what else?

Well, say ‘goodbye’ to 1 day history activities, and say ‘hello’ to 3 day history projects!

History activities in Bigger Hearts were 1 day responses to the history readings.  In contrast, Preparing Hearts recognizes students need to learn to follow directions to complete multi-step projects from start to finish. (Project-based assessment is the spine of much of high school and college.)  Before you as a possible project-phobic parent want to throw in the towel, know that Preparing’s projects are never fluff.  They are connected to the history reading, and they are often the basis for multi-media history-based research.

Small increments of 15 minute segments are planned on Days 1-3 for students to step-by-step complete history projects directly related to their history. Every week is a different project, and every week they are done in 3 days. So no projects left out for weeks on end on your kitchen table, and no strange materials either.  An average kitchen and an average amount of typical art supplies are all you need.  But now you may be asking, if the history project is on Days 1-3 of the plans, what fills its place on Day 4? Written narrations – that’s what!

Say ‘hello’ to written narrations, but don’t say ‘goodbye’ to oral narrations – just take them up a notch!

Oral narrations were modeled and practiced previously, and children continue to hone those skills in Preparing.  Orally narrating on the read-aloud Storytime book was practiced in Bigger and is continued in Preparing.  Narrating on the Reading about History read-aloud is a new skill. Oral narrations are taken up a notch even further as children orally narrate on history readings they have read by themselves independently.  Likewise, children orally narrate on a totally new subject they also read by themselves independently – and that is science.

Finally, written narrations are introduced one day each week in response to the history read-aloud. But, as always, this skill is taught in a guided incremental way, so children can get off to a good start with it.  Plans let kiddos write narrations on smaller segments of the history read-aloud, with guided questions according to Bloom’s Taxonomyto get them started.  Simple step-by-step editing tips in the Appendix help make this transition even easier. Kiddos get off to a good start in written narrations, so they are sure to do well!

So, what else is added to Preparing Hearts, you may ask?

Well, creative writing lessons are added to Preparing Hearts in response to the classical poetry.  Likewise, the poetry study becomes more in-depth, focusing on the work of one poet, Robert Louis Stevenson (very Charlotte Mason-like).

The Poetry Study includes the following skills each week:
  • First Day: questions and discussion related to the meaning of the poem
  • Second Day: creative writing lesson based upon the poem’s style, content, pattern, or poetic devices
  • Third Day: personal connections with the poet and the poem
  • Fourth Day: suggested ways to share the poem with another person
  • *Each 12 week term: memorization of a previously studied Robert Louis Stevenson poem of the student’s choice
Other Noteworthy Changes

Other noteworthy changes to Preparing Hearts include the addition of history-based research using an encyclopedia.  This includes a specific topic to be researched, as well specific questions to be answered orally.  Geography quick-finds are included, and though they are matched nicely to the history, they are also matched nicely to typical state standards.  Comprehension questions must be answered each week for science, five questions to be exact, and they include the page number to locate the answer, as this is a new skill.

The Bible Study ‘grows up!’

Two days of Bible Study are led by the parent, but two days are practice for an independent Bible Quiet Time. Charlotte Mason’s Common Place Book is introduced. Instead of one Scripture verse being memorized, passages are being memorized, and further reflection and personal application are added, as well as the ACTS model of prayer. This is training for next year, when students will have daily Bible Quiet Time and parents will have Bible Study that is more in-depth.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s first check out the Bible layout of Preparing:
  • First Day : Discuss a portion of a Psalm using heartfelt questions that encourage students to read and reflect upon God’s word.
  • Second Day: Identify the mood and purpose of the Psalm, and pray about the Psalm.
  • Third Day: Have a personal quiet time filled with prayer and praise based on a portion of a Psalm.
  • Fourth Day: Copy the Scripture memory selection in a Common Place Book (Note: See the description of a Common Place Book in the “Bible Study” box of the plans for Day 4 in each unit.)

Everything else from Bigger just grows up a little more in Preparing

The 1-3 vocabulary cards in Bigger become 3-5 vocabulary cards in Preparing. Biblical connections  are just part of more and more in the plans. There are more timeline entries, longer readings, more mature topics, and longer dictation passages. Children do more diagramming and complete writing assignments in English, and they practice both cursive and print throughout the year.

Drawn into the Heart of Reading covers more difficult story elements, Godly character qualities, projects, and comprehension questions. Draw and Write Through History adds step-by-step drawing assignments. History and science notebooking assignments become more involved, as do science experiments.

In Closing…

Preparing has some of our favorite all-time books.  Grandpa’s Box partnered with Child’s History of the World – amazing!  I dare you not to cry when you finish the last reading of Grandpa’s Box. It made me long for my Dad’s storytelling and want to learn how to whittle (don’t ask about the whittling… you’ll understand once you read it).  It also made my kiddos see how God’s plans truly are best, even when we don’t fully understand them.

Last, it made me see how my role as a homeschool teacher and mom was changing.  I would not forever only read aloud, but instead I’d embrace new and exciting things my kiddos needed.  And though I thought I might not like that, I did.  In fact, I loved it, because I got to know my children better and better – their ideas, their hearts, and their dreams.  I hope you enjoy it too!

In Christ,

Julie

P.S.  You can check out our placement chart to see if Preparing Hearts… is a fit for your kiddos! If your child places better in Bigger Hearts…, check out this blog post by clicking here!

P.S.S. Click on each link below for Preparing Hearts...
P.S.S.S. New to HOD?  Check out our top ten questions!

Use coupon code LB-BHB for 10% off the Deluxe Package – Boy Interest in Bigger Hearts for His Glory!

Library Builder

Use coupon code LB-BHB for 10% on this month’s Library Builder book set: The Deluxe Package – Boy Interest in Bigger Hearts for His Glory!

We are excited to continue our  Heart of Dakota Library Builder book set promotion! On the 1st Wednesday of each month we will be promoting one of our book sets with a 10% coupon code. For this month’s special use coupon code LB-BHB on our website for the entire month of August to apply the savings to your order. The coupon applies to the Bigger Hearts for His Glory deluxe package – Boy Interest set of books.   To view all of the books in this set, just click here!

This set of books contains nine read-aloud titles, one for each genre of literature that is scheduled in the storytime part of the plans in  Bigger Hearts for His Glory. Each book is used for 20 days of the plans.

How is the Storytime part of the plans in Bigger Hearts for His Glory used throughout the year?

(From the Introduction of Bigger Hearts for His Glory):

Storytime
Daily storytime sessions are based on literature that is read aloud from the following nine genres: Biography, Adventure, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Nonfiction, Humor, Realistic Fiction, and Folk Tale. Each type of literature is read aloud for 20 days, except for Folk Tale which is read aloud for 10 days.

The instructions and activities are written to be used with any literature. This flexibility allows you to use your own discretion in selecting literature to read aloud to your students. The structure also allows you to select the pace at which you’ll complete your read aloud selection.

Each 5 day unit in the guide includes the following reading activities in coordination with the read-aloud assignments:
*1st Day: introduce and study different types of literature
*2nd Day: model narration to foster comprehension
*3rd Day: identify and analyze a different story element for each genre
*4th Day: relate personally to one Godly character trait, compare Biblical and book characters, and make a bookmark as a reminder of the trait
*5th Day: practice narration by retelling the story in a variety of ways

Use coupon code LB-BHB to save!

To apply this month’s savings, just enter coupon code LB-BHB on our website when you check out! We hope these books will be as treasured to you as they are to us!

Have a great rest of the week!
Heart of Dakota