Are you encouraging your children to do the independent boxes of plans on their own?

Teaching Tip

This is the next post in our series of things to check if your school day seems too long. I know this can happen to any of us, and hopefully these tips may help!

Are you reading aloud material meant for the children to read on their own?

Are you taking over assignments from the Independent (I) boxes, reading aloud material meant for the child to read? If so, this will definitely add time to your day. It is no surprise that parents often want to keep reading aloud long past the point at which children can read well on their own. This can be because the material is so interesting that the parent doesn’t want to miss out! Other times the parent doesn’t want to lose special time spent reading with the child. Or, perhaps the child doesn’t want the added responsibility of reading his own material. Eventually, a point arrives at which your child will actually prefer reading his own material. Sometimes this is a natural progression, and sometimes children need nudging in this direction. But the progression toward children reading their own material is an important one.

There are many benefits to children reading their own school assignments.

Typically, kiddos can read to themselves much more quickly than you can read aloud to them. Also, students usually retain better when reading to themselves. Even if students’ first independent reading efforts are less than stellar, there is much to be gained from developing this important skill. Training children to read their own material is critical preparation for higher levels of reading, analysis, and application.

Learning to read purposefully is a skill that takes time to develop.

It can take time for children to learn to read purposefully. By high school, almost all students are asked to use this skill regularly. So, be sure to encourage your children to do any reading assigned in the ‘I’ boxes on their own. Then, don’t forget to check your children’s work in any ‘I’ boxes to be sure they have done it! At our house we trust, but verify!! Try training your children to read their own material and see what you think.

Here are some previous posts in this series that you may also want to consider:

Are you having your child work toward the suggested level of independence in Heart of Dakota?

Have a Written Routine and Provide it to Your Child

Are you training your older children to read from the guide?

Blessings,
Carrie

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Heart of Dakota

Save money as you add to your Heart of Dakota Library!

Library Builder

Coupon Code – LB-ER: Save 10% on this month’s Library Builder book set – The Emerging Reader Set!

We are excited to announce the first 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-ER on our website for the entire month of March to apply the savings to your order. The coupon applies to both of the Emerging Reader sets. The only difference between the two sets is the Bible. The Early Reader’s Bible is a little bit easier for your child to read than the Beginner’s Bible. 

Emerging Reader Set - Heart of Dakota
Use coupon code LB-ER for the entire month of March to save!

To view all of the books in this set, just click here!

Regardless of which Bible you choose, these books will be a great resource for your beginning reader! We suggest that this set of books be used right after phonics instruction. Since each book in this set gets progressively more difficult to read, the strength of your child’s reading ability will be constantly moving forward to that of an independent reader. Just follow the Scheduled Books for Emerging Readers found in the Appendix of Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory and in the Appendix of Bigger Hearts for His Glory. The schedule listed in the Appendix has been carefully planned to utilize interesting books that gradually increase in reading difficulty throughout the year.

Use coupon code LB-ER to save!

To apply this month’s savings, just enter coupon code LB-ER 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

How to Teach Bigger Hearts for His Glory on a 4 Day Schedule

Dear Carrie

How would you suggest doing Bigger Hearts for His Glory on a 4 day schedule?

Dear Carrie,

I’m considering using Bigger Hearts for His Glory 4 days a week instead of 5 days a week. How would you suggest doing Bigger Hearts for His Glory on a 4 day schedule?

Sincerely,
“Four Days Only Please in Northwest MO”

Dear “Four Days Only Please in Northwest MO,”

As you ponder what will work best for your family, I want to share a few things for your consideration. Each guide is designed to have a daily workload that is appropriate for the skill level of your student. So, each day of plans is written with a careful balance in mind of visual, kinesthetic, and auditory assignments. Likewise, creative and more structured assignments are balanced within a school day. Also, activities on the left side intertwine together within a day of school to allow kiddos to make connections. Even some of the activities from the right side of the guide have planned connections such as this as well.

Shifting boxes around causes loss of intended balance and connections.

When you shift boxes around, you lose the carefully timed workload, balance of skills, and connections designed to happen effortlessly. To show you what I mean, I’ll share this example. Imagine that you are a classroom teacher in a Christian school. Each week you spend your entire weekend and many nights writing a week of plans for your class. You work to be sure that each activity has a special purpose in that particular day. Carefully you plan things from the history reading or the Bible or science that you desire your kiddos to connect. As you arrive on Monday, you learn of a two hour assembly being scheduled, taking place during your written plans. So, you begin shifting the plans, trying to keep what was really important together. You can do this fairly well because you wrote the plans. Now, later in the week there is a fire drill, and the plans shift again. Later in the week the guidance counselor stops in to talk about playground troubles, and more shifting occurs. By the week’s end, how well do you think those original lesson plans are functioning? How cohesive are they at this point? You sigh, and hope the next week will be better.

Shifting boxes around causes loss of the cohesiveness of following the 2-page spread of plans.

However, if you do this shifting every week with Heart of Dakota, you can quickly see what is lost! No longer can your kiddos just follow the two-page spread and know when the boxes are checked they are done. No longer do you view your school day that way either, as you are constantly squeezing more into less time. At that point, you are pretty much rewriting the plans in a way they were not designed to be taught. Moms who have shifted too many things in the plans are often on different days of plans in many areas. They share their days feel disjointed instead of cohesive, and their kiddos are completely confused as to where they are.

Homeschooling is a journey of many years rather than a race to the finish line.

I share this not to discourage you, but rather to encourage you with some wisdom I’ve gained through the years. As we homeschool our kiddos, we have to ask what it is we are racing to do? Why must we approach schooling in a way that has us cramming more into fewer days? Homeschooling is a journey that goes on for many years. It is not a race to the finish line, but rather it requires steady progress forward.

Give your family every chance to succeed with Bigger Hearts… by using it the way it was written.

So, you have a child in Bigger…, and you need a 4 day schedule? Why not just teach a day within in a day? On your day off, simply set the guide aside. Then, when you return to your school, pick the guide up where you left off and go forward. Once you get to Preparing Hearts… on up, you will switch to a 4 day plan anyway. So, why not give your family every chance to succeed with Bigger Hearts… by using it the way it was written? You always want to leave your kiddos begging for more in the early years, rather than leaving them (and you) barely getting done. Enjoy the younger years, when the school day isn’t so long, because it will get longer soon enough!

Blessings to you as you ponder,
Carrie

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Heart of Dakota

Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 2

From Our House to Yours

Can you encourage personal style within the provided structure of Heart of Dakota’s plans?

You certainly can! In fact, as I shared last week, the opportunity for personal style is already part of Heart of Dakota’s plans. You may be wondering, then how are both included? Well, the daily plans provide specific guidelines for each school subject, which gives structure for each assignment. Structure might include which kind of oral narration to give, how many sentences to write, what headings to use, etc. So, needed parameters are given, but they need not squelch the creativity of personal style!

If you would like to see last week’s post (Part 1), click below:
Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 1

How can students get creative with their personal style then?

Excellent question! Well, blessedly personal style is a natural part of a living books approach to homeschooling. Better yet, a living books approach to learning is already included in every Heart of Dakota guide! Narrations have structure, like which book to read, which pages to narrate upon, and which kind of narration to give. But, they also encourage personal style. Students can choose which parts to retell, what manner to retell them, and what connections they’ve made. This is the opposite of a textbook and workbook approach, which includes a more encyclopedia-like ‘facts only’ response. Similarly, the different assessments included in the structure of the plans are the opposite of ‘test and forget it’ assessments.

Do you have some examples of personal style being encouraged within the structure of the plans?

I sure do! I’m so glad you asked because this is what I wanted to share with you in my weekly check-in. Let’s chat about my son, Riley, this week, who is using World Geography this year. I’ll start with the Living Library one-sentence summary assignment. This assignment is harder than it seems! In fact, as Riley is my detailed narrator, trying to respond to his reading with a one-sentence summary is difficult. At the start of the guide, he chose the option to write 3 sentences on scratch paper first. Then, he took each of the most important parts from the 3 sentences and consolidated them into one sentence. Twenty-three units into the year, he no longer chooses to start with 3 sentences. In fact, he has become adept at writing a one-sentence summary with every part the guide asks him to include.

This assignment is the perfect follow-up to his Living Library reading. It does not ‘get between the child and the book,’ as Charlotte Mason would applaud. Keep in mind, this isn’t a required part of earning credit, but rather a way to earn extra credit. So, as a follow-up to the already extra reading of the Living Library, the assignment is kept appropriately short.

Living Library One-Sentence Summary Assignment
Heart of Dakota World Geography Living Library
World Geography Living Library One-Sentence Summary Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•certain pages must be read
•a one sentence summary must be written
•the main character(s), the main action taken, any important conflict, the goal, and the setting must be included

Personal Style:

•option to write 3 sentences on scratch paper first
•chose what to include in summary
•chose to read aloud summary to me

A Few Things to Remember:

This is an extra credit option in the plans, so if the summary isn’t the exact sentence you would have written – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the summary is limited to one sentence and includes the main character, a main action taken, a conflict, a goal and a setting.

World Geography Written Narration Assignment
World Geography Heart of Dakota Written Narration
World Geography Written Narration Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•read assigned Mapping the World with Art pages
•needs to be 3-4 paragraphs long
•must be read aloud to try to catch any mistakes
•need to stick to the topic, support it with details, write in the author’s style, include a strong opening and closing
•must use the Written Narration Skills in the Appendix to edit

 

Personal Style:

•pick his own details to retell
•decide whether to write 3 or 4 paragraphs
•chose whether to write in print or in cursive
•pick his own way to open and close his narration

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a quiz! So, if your student didn’t write what you’d have written – for the sake of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands reading, writing at least 3 paragraphs, reading it aloud, including noted parameters, and editing. If it’s not legible enough for the student to read aloud, that’s not ok either. This is just one more reason not to skip this step!

Geography Activities Assignment:
World Geography Heart of Dakota Activities
World Geography Activities Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•need to watch DVD Scenic Cruises of the World
•must make bulleted list of important things to experience or see
•need to make lists for 3 provided topics

Personal Style:

•decide his own details to include in his bulleted lists
•pick whether to write list in phrases or in sentences
•decide whether to write in print or cursive
•chose to read his notes aloud to me

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a composition assignment for English credit. It’s a response to a DVD viewing of geographical places being studied. So, if your student didn’t write complete sentences or certain facts – for personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the DVD is viewed and bulleted notes are written pertinent to each provided topic.

World Religion and Culture’s Assignment:
World Religion and Culture - Heart of Dakota
World Religion and Culture’s Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•must read the assigned pages of the book
•need to answer each of the provided questions
•must answer the questions over multiple days as assigned

 

Personal Style:

•chose how much detail to include in his answers
•decide whether to write in phrases or in sentences
•chose whether to write in print or cursive
•pick to read his answers aloud to me (he orally shared his page numbers/quotes for #2)

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a composition assignment for English credit. It’s a response to a DVD viewing of geographical places being studied. So, if your student didn’t write complete sentences or certain facts – for personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the DVD is viewed and bulleted notes are written pertinent to each provided topic.

Next week, I’ll share Part 3 of this series on personal style within the structure of the plans. That final post will be in regard to my son, Wyatt, who is completing U.S. History II this year. Hope you had a good week, ladies!

In Christ,
Julie

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Heart of Dakota

Are you training your older children to read from the guide?

Teaching Tip

This is the next post in our series of things to check if your school day seems too long. I know this can happen to any of us, and hopefully these tips may help!

Are you training your children in Preparing Hearts on up to read directly from the Heart of Dakota guide?

In the guides from Preparing Hearts on up, coding appears in each box of the daily plans. This code guides you in the suggested level of independence for each box. I = Independent, S = Semi-Independent, and T = Teacher Directed. Moving your child to take over the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes takes training. Reading right from the guide is an important step in that training.

Are you treating the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes like ‘T’ boxes?

Eventually, your student should do the ‘I’ boxes independently and the ‘S’ boxes semi-independently. This includes reading directions from the guide independently and following them. If you are treating the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes like ‘T’ boxes, this will add significant time to your day. It will also leave your child without the stepping stones he needs to be prepared for the level of independence expected in the next guide.

You may also want to read these previous teaching tips about independence:

Do you allow your children to have the guide in hand as they work?

As parents, we often view any homeschool guide as ours! To hand the guide to our child seems like a foreign idea. Yet, the Heart of Dakota guides are written for you to do just that! Preparing Hearts is written partly to the student. Each successive Heart of Dakota guide is written more and more to the student. We intend for the child to have the guide in hand while he works.

If your student does not have the guide in hand, the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes will be very difficult!

Working without a guide in hand leaves the child striving to remember a lengthy list of directions. If the student cannot remember the directions, he will be running back to the guide often. If you summarize or list directions instead of allowing the student to have the guide, you add time to your day. Plus, the student must decipher your interpretation of the guide’s directions. A dual set of directions and expectations is always confusing! Simply allowing your student to have the guide in hand fixes these problems.

What are two crucial steps for success with the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes?

Train your kiddos to read from the guide early and often. Allow your students to have the guide in hand as they work. These two steps are crucial to being able to do the ‘I’ and ‘S’ boxes as written. Reading and following directions independently pays big dividends not just within Heart of Dakota, but all throughout life. So, begin training your children to read from the guide today, and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

PS – For those of you who like to use the app Bloglovin, we wanted to let you know that we have added our blog to this site.

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Heart of Dakota