Deciding Between Combining and Uncombining

Dear Carrie

Deciding Between Combining and Uncombining

In January we’ll start our new school year. I’ll have a ten year-old daughter and an almost eight year-old son. We’ve used Heart of Dakota (HOD), from preschool through Preparing Hearts. I’ve had no problem timewise doing two guides, especially since my daughter is getting more independent. However, I think I’d like to combine the two for history and science. Honestly, my son’s been secretly listening to his older sister’s books for years! I REALLY want to stick with HOD! So, if I combined my 2nd and 4th graders in Creation to Christ (CTC) for history and science ONLY, how would I do it? How would I modify written work, notebooking assignments, etc.? His handwriting is NOT great. I go back and forth on this. I honestly am okay keeping them uncombined if you think that’s better. Combining has been smooth sailing. Maybe I shouldn’t rock the boat with uncombining!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Decide Between Combining or Uncombining”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Decide Between Combining or Uncombining,”

Combining and uncombining can work within Heart of Dakota (HOD). However, the target age ranges of the guides really do matter. One thing I think all of us go through as our kiddos are getting older and are gaining independence is that our momma’s heart longs to stay with our oldest and keep on learning and sharing with that child. (The subject matter just gets so interesting that we don’t want to allow that child to head off without us!) Yet, as our children mature it is so important to allow them to be more mature and to treat them in that manner without having little ears listening in to all of the more grown-up topics and heart issues that come along with that maturity.

Our littler ones deserve the same focused attention our older ones received.

It is also so important to give our littler ones the same focused attention that our older ones received, and having an older one moving into the guides from CTC on up allow us to do just that! This is because as our older ones take over more of their own readings, we have more time to spend with just our little ones… bonding and making individual memories with them too.

Our guides speak to a more clearly defined stage or age of children, both in ability and maturity.

You will find this to be very true as you head into CTC on up, as we definitely wrote these guides with the target age range on the guide in mind and we meant to let our kiddos head off more on their own. This means that we’re not writing with an eye toward kiddos beneath the age range, but instead are really targeting the range of ages on the guide both in ability and in maturity. This makes our guides really fit a narrower age range well. It also makes the guides speak to a more clearly defined stage or age that the child is in at that time.

Combining a young child beneath the target age range of a guide  with an older child impacts reading skills and maturity.

So, if you choose to have a young one (beneath the target age range of the guide) combined with an older one just listen in, you’ll find over time that you’re having to read aloud material we never planned to be read aloud (simply to keep your young one in the loop). You’ll also be exposing your child to content that we never intended for a child beneath the age range of the guide to be hearing, simply due to the maturity needed to handle the subject matter in the guide.

The spiritual maturity and depth of faith of a child should also be considered when contemplating combining.

Another thing to ponder when looking at combining is how much spiritual maturity and depth of faith a child should have before being exposed to the content in each guide. In my mind, it is very important for a child to have an excellent foundation in the Bible and in what he/she believes before heading into anything involving ancient history and the Reformation! This means that kiddos beneath the age range of a guide will also not have the spiritual maturity we are looking for them to have in place prior to moving into the historical time period in the guide. This is really something that easily gets overlooked in placement but that makes a huge difference in a child’s reaction and understanding of many difficult times in history!

When a younger child ‘listens in’ to an older child’s guide, much of the experience we have planned for that child to gain is lost.

So, while I can understand your thoughts on combining your kiddos to have unity in your history study, I also want to encourage you that listening in to an older child’s guide leaves out much of the experience we have planned for that child to gain from using a particular guide. As an example for you to ponder from my own experience, I’ll share that my oldest son did Sonlight Core 1 as a first grader. As a part of that core, he was to listen to A Child’s History of the World. My oldest read at age four. He was able to read huge classic chapter books off his dad’s shelf (like the unabridged copy of Moby Dick) before he was turning seven. Of course, I took this book away midway through and told him Daddy’s shelf was off-limits! But, my oldest son was just an amazing reader!

As subject matter got harder, more violent, and more mature, I began asking whether just because my son “could” read this , “should” he?

So, as we journeyed through grade 1 of Sonlight, he read more and more of A Child’s History of the World himself. He had a great understanding of the world and could really comprehend the readings. So, we kept on going. As a couple of years passed with Sonlight, however, I realized that the subject matter just kept getting harder, more violent, and more mature. I began asking whether just because my son “could” read this type of more mature material, whether he really “should” read that type of material.

Maturity plays a huge role in how much children can truly “take in.”

By the time we were in third grade, my philosophy was shifting drastically. I began realizing that there were many things that required a depth of faith he didn’t have (at age 6, or 7, or 8, etc.) to bring to the study of those types of books. I also made a shift away from Sonlight for this very reason. There is much more to reading than simply being able to read and comprehend! Maturity plays a huge role, and even mature kiddos need to grow up to really “take in” what they’re reading on a deeper level!

Books that would have been a joy for an older reader were just so-so for my son.

So, my next choice was to use Ambleside Online. We did years 3, 4, 5, and part of 6 in full. While we moved to a more Charlotte Mason approach with Ambleside, and the readings were less lengthy, we still ran into much maturity needed in the readings. Books that would have been a joy for an older reader, were so-so for my son. He used Ambleside on grade level and had no problems with the level of readings. However, in looking back, I can see now that reading books like the unabridged Robinson Crusoe as a 4th grader left less of a good impression than they would have left if my son were much older and more mature when he read them (both in age and in his faith).

My son brought a maturity to reading A Child’s History of the World when he was older that made a big difference in the depth of his understanding of it.

Through Ambleside, my son read A Child’s History of the World (again). What a difference in his understanding now that he had matured several years! Every light bulb in his mind was going off like crazy! He brought so much maturity to the reading, and it made a big difference in his understanding. He was making connections all over the place and his thought process was much, much deeper.

My son had an amazing year in CTC as a 7th grader, and his love for history and reading returned.

With this in mind, as I completed the writing of Creation to Christ (CTC) for my next oldest son, I chose to leave Ambleside and have my oldest son do CTC as a 7th grader. Even though technically the readings were “below” his level by a long shot…what an amazing year he had! He deepened his faith and love for the Lord through his first really Biblical tour through the ancient time period! He understood and enjoyed what he read so much more than he had with Sonlight or Ambleside. Blessedly, his love for history and reading returned.

As my son did RTR for 8th grader, I no longer thought he had to be challenged in every area to have a great learning experience!

The following year I had him do Resurrection to Reformation (RTR) as an 8th grader. Again, I couldn’t believe how much the study deepened and matured his faith. It was a turning point in his education and a turning point in my thinking. No longer did I think that he had to be challenged in every area to have a great learning experience. For the first time, I realized how much a mature faith meant to a study of a historical time period!

Combining just to combine is not worth it.

So in comparison, when we look at having your nearly 8 year-old, second grade son do CTC next year, in comparing it to the experience my 7th grade son had, you can imagine my hesitation in ever recommending that option. “Could” you do it, with a lot of tweaking? Probably. “Should” you do it? In my opinion, “could” and “should” are worlds apart, and I wouldn’t advise you to do it simply based on whether it “could” be done. Combining just to combine is not worth it.

Families combining children who are within the target age range of the guide do this quite successfully. 

What we discover time and again with HOD, is that those families who pull up a child who is outside of the age range of an HOD guide (simply for combining with an older sibling) often can only make it work in the younger guides. After that (usually by CTC) it becomes next to impossible to do this type of combining well. They eventually either end up splitting their kiddos  and moving the young child back down to a guide where he/she truly fits on his/her own, or they end up moving away from HOD. On the other hand, families combining kiddos who are actually within the target age range of the guide are able to do this quite successfully.

When you ask us about combining, we are being realistic about whether this is a plan that will work well for you for the long haul!

So, it is not that we don’t recommend combining, but rather that we don’t recommend combining kiddos outside of the age range of the guide. In all honesty, we are looking toward the future and being realistic about whether this is a plan that will work for you well for the long haul! The wonderful thing about posing your combining question here is that when we advise you, we are looking down the road to the “graduation from high school” finishing line with HOD. The advice we’re giving you is to keep you from burning up your HOD options and leaving you in a pickle!

I wouldn’t be in a hurry to grow your younger son into an upper guide just for combining’s sake.

Simply listening in to an older child’s reading is by no means the same as actually “doing” everything that goes with those readings. Pulling a child back a guide is hard to do, and allowing a young one to hear everything an older sibling is reading (without doing any of the skills involved in those readings) is just stealing your thunder for the future when your younger child gets there. Spiritual maturity and depth of faith play a huge role in the appropriateness of historical subject matter. I wouldn’t be in too big of a hurry to grow your young one into an upper guide just for combining’s sake. He will get there sooner than you’d like already. So, I’d not rock the boat by combining; rather, I’d keep on with your smooth sailing and enjoy the trip!

Blessings,

Carrie

PS: Here are some threads to ponder as well:
Why don’t you recommend having children younger than the target age range of the HOD guide simply listen in with the older student’s guide?

What would my child be missing out on if I did choose to combine him/her in a guide that doesn’t fit him/her well on the placement chart?

How will we be learning as a family if we do separate guides?

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

 

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

 

I’m in a Placement ‘Pickle’ After Taking a Longer Break

Pondering Placement

I’m in a Placement ‘Pickle’ After Taking a Longer Break

I’m in a pickle. Just over a year ago, my daughter had almost finished Beyond, and my son was about halfway through Bigger. Our son was having trouble staying on task. He isn’t a motivated student, and he had heart issues to work on. So, we took a longer break from Heart of Dakota. I now need to decide “what’s next.” The other night, lying in the dark and trying to quiet my own voice so I might hear God’s, the thought plunked in my head …. “HOD“. What? Is this my idea or His? Then this flood of memories hit me: washing our house like the Hollanders, playing games, hauling an egg in a container of flour all. over. the. house. Good memories. Heart warming memories. But, I’m in such a placement pickle! I wouldn’t even know where to pick it up again.

A Little Background on My Daughter

My 8 1/2 year-old daughter just started R & S Math 4, has had no formal grammar, and only does copywork for writing. We did read the Bigger Hearts Storytime and DITHOR books all last year. But, I’d just order a different Storytime set and DITHOR set. I just had my daughter try some lessons from R & S English 2, and they went well. She could keep her math and English.

A Little Background on My Son

My 10 1/2 year-old son just began R & S Math 5, completed English 2 back in Bigger, and does copywork in cursive and free writing in print. In Bigger’s dictation, he got to #40. Last year, he read the HOD DITHOR books I bought. I would place him in 4/5 or maybe 5/6. The pickle is I don’t know if I should put my son with his sister in Bigger with the extensions, or if I should place him in another guide? If another guide, which one? Preparing? CTC? If I look at the guides by age, I get a sinking feeling about putting him CTC when I see the amount of work and independence required. I’ve never had him tested, but he just seems to have some sort of slight delay. He is a smart guy, but he has issues following and  understanding directions. Hmmm. A placement pickle.

A Little Background on the Two of Them and the Rest of the Family

Ironically, being with his sister isn’t too competition-filled. He’s perfectly content to let her steal the show. It’s when he has MORE work/HARDER work than she does that he starts comparing and complaining (i.e. “Why do I have to do x, y, and z and SHE doesn’t?? I never finish at the same time as she does!” )  When I mentioned to him that if he did Bigger again I would be adding an additional reading assignment for him (the extensions), he complained. Preparing is one that I’d consider for him, but I’m concerned he’d give me grief about how his assignments are harder than his sister’s. I also know Bigger and Preparing are pretty teacher intensive. So, I should also mention that I’m going to start my littlest, 5 year-old son in Little Hearts for His Glory, so I’ll have 3 students. Placement pickle.

No matter what, I just have to say it’s really GREAT to be back with HOD! I just love HOD and feel… at home!

No matter what, I want to say it’s really GREAT to be back here with HOD! Over the last couple of days I’ve really been welling up with excitement and at the same time, peace. It’s hard to explain, but I just take it as God’s hand. Everyone has been so wonderful, as always. I find the boards here to be such a awesome place of support and advice. Just another reason I love HOD and feel… at home. I feel like one of the reasons I have been led back to HOD is because there hasn’t been much joy in the homeschooling part of our home. I’m hoping that will return. So, would you please help me with this placement pickle?

Carrie’s Reply to This Placement Pickle:

It’s good to “see” you! Thanks for taking time to share your journey with us. We all know that each family is different and that finding the right fit can be a process. As we work through this placement process, a couple of things keep coming to mind when I’m reading this thread. If I am misreading this, I apologize, but I’m feeling your concern over getting your plate too full and also feeling your concern over how hard to push your son without it becoming a daily battle. Be encouraged that these are concerns we all have! But, I do think it is wise to address those as we look at a potential plan to get you out of this ‘placement pickle’ for your year.

Advantages of Combining in Bigger Hearts

From what you’ve shared, it sounds like your daughter will fit well in Bigger. Since you have been away from HOD for a bit and never really got through Bigger, it is possible that your son could also join your daughter there. This would help with your workload, making it more manageable, and would also leave you some options as to how much to push your son.

Bigger with Extensions, DITHR, and R & S English for Your Son

Bigger with extensions for your older son, with the addition of DITHR and Rod & Staff English sounds like it might be a good step up for him. Doing DITHR and Rod & Staff English daily (as scheduled in Bigger) sounds like it would up the writing component for him quite a bit. As the year progresses, having him also do the twice weekly oral and twice weekly written narrations (even if it is just a paragraph) with the Bigger Extensions would continue to raise the bar. But, you could work up to that, simply beginning with having him do the Extension reading and oral narrations first. The Bigger Extension Pack also has once weekly science readings with brief questions to answer which would up the level of science.

Language Arts Options for Each Child

If you combined your kiddos in Bigger for most things, I think your daughter could do English 2 (as scheduled in Bigger). Your son could do English 3 or English 4. It sounds like your daughter could do the Emerging Readers or DITHR 2/3, depending on her level. Your son could do DITHR 4/5 (with the 4/5 Boy Set of books). One thing to ponder is that it helps to do a guide that still allows enough time for you to do English and DITHR as scheduled, as these are two of the 3 R’s (making them so important). If you get yourself spread too thin, you might find that you are regularly skipping DITHR or English, or both.   I do think combining your kiddos in Bigger would allow time to do that.

I’d try combining in Bigger first to see if it might be a fit.

If you did pursue the combining in Bigger path, and later felt your son needed to move forward, you could always assess again and move him forward if needed. In addition, there are many skills taught in Bigger that are realized in Preparing, so your time spent teaching and training the kiddos in Bigger is always worthwhile. I do think pondering doing both Bigger and Preparing is a pretty heavy load. There are mamas that do pull it off and have it go well, however they have settled in for longer days, knowing those two guides together can be a challenge. I’m not saying that you could not pull off Bigger and Preparing, but I’m more inclined for you to try combining in Bigger first to see if this might be a fit. If it is, it would be a blessing to you as you journey. Sometimes what is best for a season or a year changes the next year, but for this moment in time these are my thoughts.

In Closing

Anyway, just a few thoughts to ponder that should fix this placement pickle quite nicely! Feel free to share your own thoughts too! I’m so glad that you have had a chance to sift and sort through options and pray over them to find the Lord’s leading. What a blessing it is that we can gather together here to encourage one another on this journey! I’m so glad that you found some threads that were an encouragement as you pondered. The board is full of wisdom, and full of families seeking the Lord’s best however that looks for them.

Blessings,
Carrie