Should my son do copywork or handwriting?

Dear Carrie

Should my son do copywork or handwriting?

I’m using Heart of Dakota’s Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory with my 7 year-old this year. His fine motor skills are slow-coming. His hand tires easily when cutting, writing, and coloring. At the end of Little Hearts for His Glory, his writing had improved a lot. However, he still struggled with the correct formation of some of his letters. He wasn’t forming all his letter correctly. I was reading a different Heart of Dakota message board thread about handwriting in kindergarten. Julie had written, “…having the strokes progressively taught goes a long way for teaching children proper manuscript. Since writing progressively moves front and center for the subsequent years of learning, one year at least of formal manuscript instruction makes more of an easy go of it for years to come.”

I’m wondering if I should just go with the copywork in Beyond Little Hearts? Or, should I use another handwriting book (like A Reason For Handwriting A) to review how to form letters and slowly ease into copywork? One of my biggest fears in homeschooling is that I will miss something, or not realize something to be important/need corrected or focused on…especially in these early years. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Son Improve His Handwriting”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Son Improve His Handwriting,”

From what you’ve shared about your little honey, I would lean toward doing A Reason for Handwriting A with Beyond. Simply skip the reviews (the first 30 lessons) of all of the letters given in the beginning of the book and jump right in with the daily lessons on copying words instead. Do it daily 4-5 days a week, and you will finish about 9-12 weeks earlier than you finish Beyond. For at least the last 12-15 weeks be sure to do the poetry copywork as well in preparation for Bigger Hearts. Your sweetie will also be doing copywork of sentences in spelling in Beyond each week, along with writing spelling words daily. There is some copywork in the grammar lessons once weekly as well.

We did this handwriting path with my 3rd son back in Beyond, and he really made great gains. We finished Beyond the beginning of the next school year and then moved into Bigger Hearts. By then, he was ready to ease into more writing. Some little guys just need more time to grow in their motor skills.

Blessings,
Carrie

Tweaking Placement and/or Pacing to Help in Unforeseen Life Challenges

Pondering Placement – Tweaking Pacing

Question: How would I go about tweaking pacing and/or placement for a few unforeseen life challenges? 

We’re currently using three Heart of Dakota guides, with a VERY distracting 2 year-old in the house. Three guides worked fine last year! However, due to unforeseen life challenges, I’d love your help tweaking placement and/or pacing. My 11 year-old is doing well in Creation to Christ. She’s appropriately challenged, able to work well independently, and my check-ins hold her accountable. She’s often done with her “I” boxes and waiting for me to finish with her brothers, so we can do her “T” boxes. So, I don’t think tweaking her pacing back to half-speed would help.

What about tweaking my 9 year-old son’s placement or pacing in Bigger Hearts?

My 9 year-old son in Bigger enjoys the History and Science very much. However, he is overwhelmed with the writing. He also finds the reading challenging (he has some eye-focusing issues that make those things laborious). I question whether he’ll be able to handle the Independence of Preparing next year. Bigger is taking us about 4 hours to complete, not counting Storytime or DITHOR (we try to cover those things at night.) He did okay in Beyond Little Hearts last year overall. Maybe you have some tweaking suggestions for pacing or placement for this son?

What about tweaking my 7 year-old son’s placement or pacing?

My 7 year-old is almost done with Little Hearts (LHFHG). He’s a little over halfway finished with The Reading Lesson. Although he’s still doing the handwriting workbook, he’s ready for more writing. I would place him in Beyond Little Hearts if we were coming fresh to HOD. Unfortunately, I loaned my Beyond things to a family member this year. My 7 year-old son is not at all ready for Bigger. He struggles with attention span and being able to focus. Maybe you have some tweaking suggestions for pacing or placement for this son?

What about tweaking pacing by slowing down my son in Bigger Hearts and pushing my 7 year-old along more quickly?

I’m now wondering whether I should slow down my child in Bigger to half- speed. I could then begin to work my younger son towards being ready to combine with his brother in a year or so. That would put my older son in the extensions as we move forward to keep him on grade level. Hopefully, my younger son would be ready to move forward with Bigger full-speed in a year. What are your thoughts? Would this be a disservice to my 9 year-old, or unrealistic for my 7 year-old? Sorry this got so long!

Carrie’s Reply: Try tweaking by combining your 7 year-old and 9 year-old in Beyond, but continue with full-speed LA and math in Bigger Hearts.

This suggestion is a bit on the unique side! However, I can honestly see it working better for you in the long haul than trying to hustle your younger child through Beyond, while your Bigger child treads water doing just the 3R’s for over a year. Homeschooling with a busy toddler can make schooling a challenge. With this in mind, and the fact that this little one will be a lovable distraction in the mix for awhile, I would lean toward having your 9 year-old bump back down to join your 7 year-old in a trip through Beyond. I know your 9 year-old just finished Beyond. However, your 7 year-old is so ready for Beyond! It is better to combine where the younger child is, rather than pulling a younger child up to always be towed along behind an older child.

Tweaking by combining in Beyond will lessen the amount of writing for your 9 year-old and the amount of teaching time for you.

Since you are struggling already to get DITHOR and Storytime from Bigger in your 9 year-old’s day, and Bigger is already taking you a lot longer than we’d like simply due to the writing challenges and possibly somewhat due to the eye issues your 9 year-old has, then it makes sense to bump that child back into Beyond where the writing load is less and the time overall to teach is less for you. This will allow you to devote needed time to DITHOR daily for your 9 year-old and will solve your Storytime issue as you’d combine your 7 and 9 year old-for that in Beyond. Choosing a different set of books to read aloud for the Storytime in Beyond will solve the problem of any repetition there for your 9 year-old in Beyond.

Tweaking by Doing Daily R & S English, Dictation, Cursive, Math, and DITHOR

For your 9 year-old, in this move to Beyond, I would keep going daily with Rod and Staff English, studied dictation, and Cheerful Cursive from Bigger. I would also keep going with your chosen math and do DITHOR daily for your 9 year-old as expected in Beyond. I would encourage you to additionally require daily copywork from poetry in Beyond in manuscript (even just a couple of lines a day) for your 9 year-old to build his writing muscles. This plan would allow you to keep the kiddos combined for the long haul and meet them both pretty closely to where they are at, since Bigger is a bit of a stretch for your 9-year old and LHFHG is a bit easy for your 7-year old.

Savor the Time with Your Older Child to Build 3 R’s and Strengthen Fine Motor Skills

I would do Beyond as written with your 7 year-old. For your 9 year-old, I would add the things I noted from Bigger. I’d focus on not rushing through Beyond to get to Bigger too early. I would savor the repeat time with your older child in Beyond. This will be time to build his 3 R’s and strengthen his fine motor skills daily. I believe this plan will save your sanity in the long haul and make school a joy once again!

Your family member has now had time to see whether Beyond is a fit for her family.

I would tell your family member (to whom you so graciously loaned your HOD materials) that due to a change in your plans you are in need of your Beyond Economy Package, science book, devotional, and music CD back. Then, I would purchase a new set of Storytime books to make that fresh. Your family member has likely had enough time to see whether she likes HOD enough to invest something in it. The Economy Package and the science, devotional, and music CD required to complete Beyond are not expensive (around $120 for all of those materials combined)! She could keep your storytime set for now (which will save her money).

Praying for God’s Grace and Wisdom for You

I pray God’s grace and wisdom on you as you seek His best for your homeschool. In looking down the road, I think this plan with the tweaking mentioned makes the most sense for the long haul. If you ever feel like your older child of the pair makes huge gains and is ready for more, you could always consider bumping that child forward a guide in coming years if needed.

Blessings,
Carrie

A Hybrid Approach to Beyond Little Hearts and Bigger Hearts for 6-8 Year-Olds

From Our House to Yours

A Hybrid Approach to Beyond Little Hearts and Bigger Hearts

Heart of Dakota’s (HOD’s) Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond) has a target age range of 6-8 years old. This means the bulk of the guide is geared toward children within this target age range. So, the history, geography, timeline, science, Bible study, devotional, music, art projects, poetry activities, and read-alouds all are very appropriate for children ages 6-8. These subjects are more inspirational, and as such, have a wider range of appropriate placement. In contrast, language arts and math are more disciplinary subjects. These subjects have a smaller range of appropriate placement. They require more fine tuning. There are already multiple levels of reading, spelling, math, and copywork in Beyond’s plans. However, what if you are combining a 6 year-old with an 8 year-old that is just ready for more in language arts and math? Well, you take a hybrid approach!

A Hybrid Approach to Handwriting

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond) already has writing options for copywork. Students use classical poetry provided in the Appendix of Beyond for copywork. You can already customize handwriting by choosing how many lines of the poetry each student copies. Younger students might begin by copying one line of poetry each day. Older students might copy four lines of poetry each day. But what if your 8 year-old is advanced in handwriting and is ready for cursive? Well, you take the hybrid approach by adding either Cheerful Cursive or Italic D from the Bigger Hearts guide!

A Hybrid Approach to Math

Beyond has two math options. The first option includes 1A/1B Singapore Math. The Beyond guide has wonderful hands-on daily math plans to teach the 1A/1B math. In the Appendix of the Beyond guide, there is a second option for using 2A/2B Singapore Math. This schedule uses the textbook to teach 2A/2B, with the workbook to follow. However, if you prefer hands-on math plans to teach 2A/2B, or if you have one super smart little one that places in Singapore Math 3A/3B, it’s time to take the hybrid approach! How? Well, you use the Bigger Hearts teacher’s guide. With daily hands-on math plans for 2A/2B, by using the Bigger Hearts guide, you don’t even need to buy the 2A/2B Textbooks. So, really, by using this hybrid approach for 2A/2B, you’re getting the Bigger Hearts guide for nearly $30 less (the guide less the cost of the textbooks).

A Hybrid Approach to Spelling

Beyond includes two spelling options already. Spelling list one is easier than spelling list two, and both are included in Beyond’s daily plans and Appendix. However, if your 8 year-old is ready for harder spelling in the form of Charlotte Mason’s studied dictation, it is time to take the hybrid approach! The Appendix of the Bigger Heart’s teacher’s guide includes Dictation Level 2. This is the first of eight levels of studied dictation, and it is the next, harder level of spelling instruction after Beyond’s spelling list two. So, if you have an 8 year-old in Beyond who is ready for studied dictation, take the hybrid approach by adding the dictation plans from the Bigger Hearts guide!

A Hybrid Approach to Grammar

Each Day 5 of each weekly unit in the Beyond teacher’s guide already includes an activity to teach a grammar skill. The grammar lessons in Beyond usually don’t require much writing, so they are perfect for 6 or 7 year-olds ready for grammar but not ready for a lot of writing! However, if your 8 year-old is ready for daily grammar with more writing, it’s time to take the hybrid approach! Just add the Bigger Heart’s R & S English 2 grammar plans for your 8 year-old!

A Full or Partial Hybrid Approach

So, if you have an 8 year-old or nearly 9 year-old using Beyond for a core guide, either solo or combined with a younger sibling, consider a hybrid approach! Choose a full hybrid approach for an 8 year-old ready for more in all language arts and math areas. Or, choose a partial hybrid approach for an 8 year-old ready for more in just one or two areas. Either way, you can easily use a full or partial hybrid approach alongside Beyond as your main guide. Better yet, you won’t be out your Economy Package savings the following year when you use Bigger Hearts as your main guide! Just let HOD know you already purchased your Beyond guide from them the year before, and HOD will still apply your $20+ package savings when you order the rest of the Economy Package later. Hope you enjoy some of these hybrid approach ideas!

In Christ,

Julie

 

Use coupon code JULY-LIBRARY for 10% off both variants of the Beyond Little Hearts Deluxe Set!

Library Builder

Use coupon code JULY-LIBRARY for 10% off both variants of the Beyond Little Hearts Deluxe Set!

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 JULY-LIBRARY on our website for the entire month of July to save 10% on the Beyond Little Hearts Deluxe Set. To view all the books in the boy set, click here. To view all the books in the girl set, 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  Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. Each book is used for 20 days of the plans.

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

(From the Introduction of Beyond Little 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 select one area to improve
*5th Day: practice narration by retelling the story in a variety of ways

Use coupon code JULY-LIBRARY to save!

To apply this month’s savings, just enter coupon code JULY-LIBRARY 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

A Hybrid Approach to Little Hearts and Beyond Little Hearts for 5-7 Year-Olds

From Our House to Yours

A Hybrid Approach to Little Hearts and Beyond Little Hearts

Heart of Dakota’s (HOD’s) Little Hearts for His Glory (LHFHG) has a target age range of 5-7 years old. This means the bulk of the guide is geared toward children within this target age range. So, the history, science, Bible study, devotional, music, art projects, rhymes, activities, read-alouds all are very appropriate for children ages 5-7. These subjects are more inspirational, and as such, have a wider range of appropriate placement. In contrast, language arts and math are more disciplinary subjects. These subjects have a smaller range of appropriate placement. They require more fine tuning. There are already multiple levels of phonics, math, fine motor skills, handwriting, and even science in LHFHG’s plans. However, what if you are combining a 5 year-old with a 7 year-old that is just ready for more in language arts and math? Well, you take a hybrid approach!

A Hybrid Approach to Reading

Little Hearts for His Glory (LHFHG) already has two phonics options – The Reading Lesson and Reading Made Easy. However, if your 7 year-old is reading Level 1 or 2 books quite fluently (such as Frog and Toad Are Friends or Amelia Bedelia), it’s time to take a hybrid approach. How do you do this? Well, you use the Emerging Reader’s Set and its plans with the Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond) teacher’s guide. With a daily reading schedule and oral comprehension questions targeted to each day’s specific reading, The Emerging Reader’s Set and the Beyond guide offer the perfect hybrid approach!

A Hybrid Approach to Math

LHFHG has two math options. The first option includes Essentials Kindergarten Math A and B. The LHFHG guide has wonderful hands-on daily math plans to teach the K math. In the Appendix of the LHFHG guide, there is a second option for using 1A/1B Singapore Math. This schedule uses the textbook to teach 1A/1B, with the workbook to follow. However, if you prefer hands-on math plans to teach 1A/1B, or if you have one super smart little one that places in Singapore Math 2A/2B, it’s time to take the hybrid approach! How? Well, you use the Beyond teacher’s guide. With daily hands-on math plans for 1A/1B, by using the Beyond guide, you don’t even need to buy the 1A/1B Textbooks. So, really, by using this hybrid approach for 1A/1B, you’re getting the Beyond guide for nearly $30 less (the guide less the cost of the textbooks).

A Hybrid Approach to Spelling

LHFHG does not include spelling plans, as most children this age do not need them. However, if your 7 year-old is ready for spelling, it is time to take the hybrid approach! The Appendix of the Beyond teacher’s guide includes two levels of spelling lists. Four days each week, the Beyond guide provides lessons for each week’s spelling list. These plans do an excellent job of preparing children for the later, more challenging spelling skills used in Charlotte Mason-style dictation. So, if you have a 7 year-old in LHFHG who is ready for spelling, take the hybrid approach by adding the spelling plans from the Beyond guide!

A Hybrid Approach to Grammar

LHFHG does not include grammar plans, as most children this age do not need them. However, if your 7 year-old is ready for a basic introduction to grammar, it’s time to take the hybrid approach! Each Day 5 of each weekly unit in the Beyond teacher’s guide includes an activity to teach a grammar skill. Each week teaches a new grammar skill that prepares kiddos well for the later, more challenging grammar skills taught in R & S English. The grammar lessons in Beyond usually don’t require much writing, so they are perfect for 7 year-olds ready for grammar but not ready for a lot of writing! Click here and scroll down to the “Grammar, Mechanics, and Usage” section of the Beyond guide to see a list of the grammar skills taught.

A Full or Partial Hybrid Approach

So, if you have a 7 year-old or nearly 8 year-old using LHFHG for a core guide, either solo or combined with a younger sibling, consider a hybrid approach! Choose a full hybrid approach for a 7 year-old ready for more in all language arts and math areas. Or, choose a partial hybrid approach for a 7 year-old ready for more in just one or two areas. Either way, you can easily use a full or partial hybrid approach alongside LHFHG as your main guide. Better yet, you won’t be out your Economy Package savings the following year when you use Beyond as your main guide! Just let HOD know you already purchased your Beyond guide from them the year before, and HOD will still apply your nearly $20 package savings when you order the rest of the Economy Package later. Hope you enjoy some of these hybrid ideas!

In Christ,

Julie