Prepare for the school year by reading the guide’s “Introduction”!

Teaching Tip

Reading the guide’s “Introduction” is great preparation for the school year.

You may be beginning to turn your thoughts toward school. One of the best ways to prepare for the upcoming year is to read through your HOD guide’s “Introduction.” There is such a wealth of information in the “Introduction” that we should truly title it something else!

How does reading the “Introduction” help prepare you for the year?

The “Introduction” will give you a feel for how each area is handled in the guide and the goals for each subject. It will let you know what notebooks, binders, etc. are needed for each subject area. Reading the “Introduction” provides a great summary of what to expect for the coming year. The “Introduction” is the last part of the guide we write. In this way, we can be sure that it truly summarizes needed information for you in one place!

If you have students in different HOD guides, read only one guide’s “Introduction” each day.

If you will be teaching more than one Heart of Dakota guide, read the “Introduction” for different guides on different days. This will help you focus on one guide at a time and will keep you from getting overwhelmed.

Can you use the guide without reading the “Introduction?”

Of course you can skip reading the “Introduction” and just jump right in and teach. However, often when families do this they miss the big picture of the guide. They also miss out on some gems that are referred to in the “Introduction” and included in the Appendix.

So, let’s get started!

After more than 15 years of homeschooling my boys with HOD, I still read the “Introduction” at the start of my school year! So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, cuddle up with your highlighter, and read away. Just reading the “Introduction” will make you feel more prepared!

Blessings,
Carrie

Top Ten Tips for Teaching Multiple Guides

Setting Up for Creation to Christ

From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for Creation to Christ

So, I’ve placed my children, had my Heart of Dakota  ‘box day,’ and am setting up for Creation to Christ (CTC). My first step is to read through CTC‘s Introduction, Appendix, and first week or month of plans. This helps me envision my year and understand what my guide covers. As each Introduction includes options (i.e. one large binder or several smaller binders, etc.), I like to note my chosen options in the margin of the Introduction. This way, I can easily make my shopping list later based on my notes. Likewise, it is important to read through the beginning pages and “Getting Started” section in the Appendix  of Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR).

Setting Up the Front of My CTC Binder

First, I make a color photocopy of my CTC cover and insert it in my binder. If you don’t have a color copier, black and white looks nice too! Second, I print the Introduction of the guide off the Internet (click here). I use the Table of Contents as my attendance record, noting the dates we completed each unit (i.e. Unit 1:  Sept. 2-6, 2019). Third, I print the first week of plans (click here), which is a nice overview. If your state requires a completed portfolio for meeting with a principal or umbrella school, the Introduction and first week of plans give an excellent overview of what is covered. (Carrie gives permission for the Introduction and First Week of Plans to be printed or copied for portfolio compilation. However, any other photocopies or retyping of plans would be a copyright infringement.)

Label History, Geography, and Science Tab Dividers 

Next, I label tab dividers for my binder. My goals are to show what my child did and how he progressed in skills. So, I label my first tab “HISTORY.” Behind this tab, I place CTC‘s history notebook pages inside clear page protectors. If I have an older child who is using the history extensions, I place any completed 2-3 paragraph summaries or pictures with one paragraph summaries here as well. Next, I label my second tab “GEOGRAPHY.” I place any of my child’s completed A Child’s Geography Vol. II: Explore the Holy Land travel logs or mapping assignments here. Then, I label my third tab “SCIENCE.” Here, I place my child’s completed science notebooking assignments and lab sheets. If I chose to use loose leaf notebook paper for the Day 3 science questions and answers, I place those here as well.

Label Language Arts and Math Tab Dividers

Next, I label my fourth tab “LANGUAGE ARTS.” For DITHOR, I either choose some completed workbook pages to include, or I just keep his entire student book. Likewise, for the cursive workbook (if my child was doing cursive this year because it was not done previously), for the R & S English 4 or 5 written work, and for the spelling/dictation written work, I either choose a handful of completed pages for the binder, or I just keep the entire workbook and notebook(s). For Write with the Best, I either would include samples of my child’s prewriting, first drafts, and final drafts in order for each writing piece, or I would just keep his entire notebook. I label my fifth tab “MATH” and include any completed math workbook pages, or I just keep the entire workbook.

Options for the Poetry Study’s Watercolor Paintings

One very special part of CTC is the poetry study, which includes children responding to Robert Frost’s poetry by creating lovely watercolor paintings. There are many options for storing these special paintings. One option would be to label another sixth tab “POETRY.” If I chose this option, I would simply place my child’s completed watercolor paintings here, in page protectors if they fit (depending on the size of paper chosen). Or for another option, I might have my child make a special folder by stapling 2 pieces of 12 x 18 construction paper together, decorating them, and sliding his completed paintings carefully inside. Another possibility would be to have my child make a cover for his watercolor paintings and have them bound as a special booklet somewhere. Finally, yet another possibility would be to purchase a special art case to hold/display the paintings.

Things Either to Do at the Start Or to Do As They Come Up in the Plans

If I want to use photocopies of DICTATION instead of the Appendix, I photocopy the passages. I also label a lined composition notebook ‘DICTATION.’ For SCIENCE, I photocopy 37 (nice to have a few extra) Science Lab sheets from the Appendix and put them in a folder. For GEOGRAPHY, I either print the maps and some travel log choices, or I do this as it comes up in the plans. (Personally, I like for my child to have a say in which travel log template he prefers each time, so I usually print these as they come up in the plans.)

Other Things to Do

For the written work in English GRAMMAR, I label a lined composition book or notebook ‘GRAMMAR.’ For the Day 3 SCIENCE questions, I label a lined composition book or notebook ‘SCIENCE QUESTIONS, unless I chose loose leaf paper instead. For MATH, I choose to either have my child write directly in the textbooks/workbooks, to use loose-leaf paper, or to use a lined notebook. If I chose a lined notebook, I label it ‘MATH.’ Finally, I choose a special lined and bound book for my child’s COMMON PLACE BOOK, which is described in the Bible Quiet Time section of CTC’s Introduction. Personally, if my child didn’t use all of the pages of his Common Place Book from the year before in PHFHG, I have him finish that one out first. However, if you didn’t do PHFHG, or if you prefer for your child to have a separate Common Place Book for each guide, a new one works great too!

Setting Up for Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR)

You can either set up DITHOR at the start or do it as you move through the plans. If I do this at the startI fill out the DITHOR 4/5 Student Book “Reading Calendar.” Using HOD’s “Optional Book Recommendations,” I fill in the page numbers to be read each day. For example, if my son is using the DITHOR Level 3 Book Pack, I see ‘5 days’ next to Biography: Louis Braille. So, I divide the total number of pages or chapters in Louis Braille by 5. As there are 10 chapters, I just write “Ch. 1-2” on ‘Day 1’ of the Reading Calendar, “Ch. 3-4” on ‘Day 2,’ and so on.

Then, as I see ’10 days’ next to Biography: Alexander Hamilton, I divide the total number of pages by 10. As there are 114 total pages in Alexander Hamilton, I divide 114 by 10 and fill in the reading calendar for about 11 pages a day. I might do this for each genre or just the first one. Also, I might choose my first genre kickoff in my DITHOR Teacher’s Guide.

Label Sticky Tabs to Mark Places in the CTC Guide

Next, I label sticky tabs to mark places in my guide. I label the first tab “DAILY PLANS,” placing it on Unit 1, Day 1. Then, I label the next tabs “DICTATION,” “POETRY,” and “MATH,” placing them in the Appendix.  Likewise, if my child is using the extensions, I label another tab “EXTENSIONS.” If I am photocopying the Science Lab sheet as it comes up in the plans, I label another tab “SCIENCE LAB.” Finally, for DITHOR, I label 2 tabs “DAILY PLANS,” placing one in the teacher’s guide and one in the student book.

Special Items for Creation to Christ

There are a few special items needed for CTC. By this time I already know which items I’ll need, because I wrote them in the margin of my Introduction earlier. Some things I’ve noted are a world map or globe, and a children’s Bible. I also noted I’d use Wikipedia for the history research, but if you are not using Wikipedia, you’d need one or more comprehensive history encyclopedias. Another note I had in my margin was a Bible dictionary would also be helpful, but not necessary. One area that has special items in CTC is the poetry watercolor paining supplies. I just use the list from the Introduction to gather these supplies. Many are available inexpensively at Miller Pads and Papers, or even at Walmart. I also had noted in the Introduction for science that we’d make our own 3 booklets. However, you might have chosen to purchase a hardbound nature journal.

Teacher and Student Narrations Skills’ Lists

One final thing I liked to do is make a photocopy of the Narration Tips: Teacher’s List, How to Narrate: Student’s List, Written Narration Skills: Teacher’s List, and/or Written Narration Skills: Student’s List.  Carrie does give permission to photocopy these. I keep the teacher’s list for me to reference and the student’s list for my child to reference. However, you can always just put another tab in your CTC guide and label it “NARRATION TIPS,” if you’d rather.

Shopping for Supplies

Carrie’s plans use readily available household supplies, and many options are suggested. For example, the plans may call for either a bean bag and a basket, or a rolled up pair of socks and a plastic bin. I just skim the History Project and Science plans every month or so, to look for the one-off supply. However, to get ready to begin CTC, I just stock up on usual art supplies, like crayons, markers, glue (sticks and liquid), scissors, construction paper, tissue paper (colored), tape (masking and clear), a ruler, a yardstick, playdough/modeling clay, paints/paintbrushes, cotton balls, yarn/string, etc. I also stock up on index cards, page protectors, and a few catalogs. Finally, I’ve found a flashlight, deck of cards, CD player (Philippians 2 CD), bouncy ball, paperclips, paper plates, food coloring, marker board with dry erase markers, and q-tips/toothpicks are also nice to have on hand.

Sorting Resources into “Things We Need Now” and “Things We Need Later” Bins or Totes

One of the last things I do is get two canvas bins.  I use one for ‘things we need now’ and the other for ‘things we need later.’ As I read through each box of my first week of CTC’s plans, I put each needed resource in the bin  for ‘things we need now.’ I put the remaining items in the bin for ‘things we need later.’ Throughout the year as we finish using resources, I put them in the back of the ‘things we need later’ bin, and I move the next books or resources we need into the ‘things we need now’ bin or tub. This way, my ‘things we need now’ bin only contains what we need for each week. Another benefit is the ‘things we need now’ are always mobile! Likewise, I put many art supplies in a tool turnabout, so these are mobile too!

In Closing

As you can see, the steps you take to set up will vary based on your personal preferences. I’m writing this post so the end result is a lovely 3-ring binder portfolio with tabs alongside any completed notebooks, workbooks, and journals. This will be a wonderful way to show what your child has done! However, there are many options. For example, instead of one large binder,  I sometimes choose several small 1 or 2 inch binders (i.e. one for history, one for science, etc.). Or, I sometimes buy one big 4-subject tabbed notebook, and label the sections DICTATION, GRAMMAR, SCIENCE, and MATH. Usually, I base this on my child. If he prefers several small binders or notebooks, we do that. Or, if he prefers just one large binder and notebook, we do that. So, by all means, set up your year how YOU’D like!

In Christ,
Julie

 

Placement: PHFHG or CTC for a 10 yo newly independent reader and writer?

Pondering Placement

Would you recommend Preparing Hearts or Creation to Christ for a 10 year old who is a newly independent reader and writer?

I’ve been pouring over the HOD Message Board and catalog! My daughter is a 10 year old 4th grader. She’s taken time in becoming independent in reading. Last year, she did really well with Bigger Hearts, but she only made it through Unit 24. She didn’t continue into Preparing Hearts because she was not reading independently. This year, we spent lots of time with intense phonics review and lots of reading. She also completed Singapore 3B, Dictation Level 2, Rod and Staff 3, Writing with Ease, and Level 2 readers. She can read and orally narrate, and she can write about 3-5 very simple sentences. One minute I’m convinced she should be in PHFHG. Then, I switch to CTC! She might not be ready for DITHOR 4/5. I’m very unsure. She’s self-motivated but can be a complainer if she thinks she can’t do something. My worry is the reading!

Carrie’s Reply: Preparing Hearts for His Glory is my placement recommendation.

Thanks so much for sharing about your daughter! With what you’ve shared so far, I’d be inclined to suggest Preparing Hearts for her placement, based mostly upon her reading and writing level. Additionally, CTC is quite a step up in independence, in amount of reading, and in following lengthy written directions. I would be hesitant to put a child who has been a bit of a late bloomer in reading into CTC without first having had that child go through the stepping stones that are built into Preparing Hearts.

I’d recommend DITHR 2/3 along with the Level 3 DITHR Book Pack.

I think that a year in Preparing Hearts would also keep her from being too overwhelmed with the addition of DITHR to her days. With this in mind, I’d lean toward having her do Preparing with DITHR Level 2/3 (if she hasn’t already done it) or 4/5 (if she has already been through DITHR 2/3). I’d also lean toward the Level 3 Book Pack (which actually has a reading level in the range of 3.5-5.1). If you think that is too young, you could move into the 4/5 Book Pack, but I would do that with some hesitation as you want to encourage her to feel good about her reading without overwhelming her.

I’d recommend R & S English 4 at half-speed, Level 3 dictation, and the narration and writing skills planned in Preparing.

I would have her move on into Rod and Staff English 4 at half-speed, spreading each lesson out over 2 days. Then, I’d move onto dictation Level 3 (which is in the Appendix of Preparing). I would move away from Writing with Ease, as you’ll have too much duplication between that program and the writing across the curriculum we do in Preparing Hearts (through guided written narration, oral narration, and dictation). I would make sure to do the writing lessons from the poetry as scheduled in Preparing Hearts to build those writing skills that are not covered elsewhere in our guide or in Rod and Staff. She will also be getting quite a bit of writing instruction through Rod and Staff.

I’d further recommend Singapore 4A, the Deluxe Package of Books for the Newly Independent Reader, and the Science.

She can also move easily into Singapore 4A as that is scheduled in the Preparing Appendix. I would have her do the Deluxe Package with Preparing and the science too. These will be her independent areas and will do a great job of building independence incrementally. In looking down the road at the level of reading, written work, and independence required in CTC and RTR on up, I would definitely encourage you to spend a year heading through Preparing first with your daughter. The leap from completing 2/3 of Bigger and then jumping to CTC would be very huge (without having Preparing in between first).

Blessings,
Carrie

Placement Help for a 13 Year Old Son with an Extremely Busy Mom

Pondering Placement

Placement Help for a 13 Year Old Son with an Extremely Busy Mom

We’re new to Heart of Dakota, and I’m trying to place my 13 year old. His reading isn’t super strong. However, he’s not a struggling reader. We’ve had no previous exposure to dictation or narration. I’m an extremely busy mom with a baby on the way in 6 weeks, and I have difficult pregnancies. I have a 3 year old too. I’ll be teaching my 6 year old to read and starting Little Hearts for His Glory. We also live on a ranch with horses and chickens and a lot of responsibilities. We’ve already done some of the Apologia elementary sciences but not Land Animals. So I am wondering with my family dynamics and my son’s ability if starting him with CTC would be right or too easy. I originally wanted to start him with Revival to Revolution but am now thinking that would be way too hard. Help!

Reply: Placement Help for a 13 Year Old Son with an Extremely Busy Mom

I’d be glad to help with placement for your 13 year old son! From what you’ve shared, I would agree that placing him in CTC would be the best fit in pretty much every area. I would lean toward placing him in English 5, as CTC does only the first half of English 5 (with the second half in RTR). You can do much of it orally or on a whiteboard, with just a portion assigned to be done on paper each day. I do think it will be good for him to do Write the Best as scheduled in CTC for writing.

I would recommend Drawn into the Heart of Reading 4/5.

If you haven’t had much in the way of formal literature instruction, I would lean toward using Level 4/5 of Drawn into the Heart of Reading for one year. After that I would bump him up to Level 6/7/8 the following year. Even if you haven’t completed all of Level 4/5, I’d still move him up. Just make sure when you switch to Level 6/7/8, you do the genres you didn’t get to in Level 4/5 first. In that way, he’ll receive a balanced reading experience.

I would recommend doing the science as written in CTC, but add the Biology 101 DVDs.

As far as the science goes, I would lean toward doing it as written in CTC, however you may wish to add something like the Biology 101 DVDs for him to watch on the 5th day of each week, just to raise the content level a bit (since your son will be on the older age range of the guide).

I would recommend adding the CTC Extension Package for your son.

You’ll need the Extension Pack for your son in CTC, but not the Basic Package. This is because of your son’s age, and also because you will be doing another HOD program with a read-aloud already for LHFHG. In that way, you won’t need to do multiple read-alouds each day.

I think your 7 year old might enjoy The Reading Lesson for phonics.

I think you have a good plan coming together! As far as your 7 year old in LHFHG goes, you could consider The Reading Lesson with the downloadable CD for helping him learn to read. It is a good incremental approach and can be done cuddled on the couch in just short sessions each day. The downloadable CD is hugely helpful and entertaining.

I am sorry to hear about your difficulty pregnancies and pray for your babe and for you.

On a sidenote, I’m so sorry for your difficult pregnancies. I have had those too with every pregnancy I’ve had… bedrest and long hospital stays with babies finally coming early around 34-35 weeks (which was always a blessing for me to get that far). I pray for your babe to be here in God’s perfect timing.

Blessings,
Carrie

Is it normal for parental involvement to lessen in Creation to Christ?

Dear Carrie

Is it normal for my level of parental involvement to lessen in Creation to Christ?

Dear Carrie,

I have 2 children doing Creation to Christ. I’m blessed Heart of Dakota has taught them independence! They are wonderful at using the guide and finishing their work. Praise God! I answer questions, check work, and lead the teacher-directed things. But, I find it’s different this year. In the younger years, I read aloud all of the books. Now, I spend more time with my 7 yo in Bigger, my 5 yo in LHFHG, and my 3 yo. I feel like it’s impossible to be much more involved than I am! I’d love to have time to sit and read the CTC books with the olders, but I just can’t! I guess I need either encouragement or constructive criticism! Is it normal for my level of involvement to change in Creation to Christ?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Know If It Is Normal for My Level of Involvement to Change in Creation to Christ”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Know If It Is Normal for My Level of Involvement to Change in Creation to Christ,”

This is a great question! Whenever we write an HOD guide, we strive for balance. We especially find it important for us to have a balance of “Teacher-Directed,” “Semi-Independent,” and “Independent” activities. While we may have more ‘I’s in a guide, that doesn’t necessarily mean we spend more time on “I” activities. It just means that we often keep the ‘I’ activities shorter. We do this in order for them to be truly independent (so it takes more ‘I’ activities to equal out the minutes spent on ‘T’ and ‘S’ activities).

We systematically move skills we have taught toward being independent.

As kiddos progress through our guides, we systematically move skills we have taught toward being ‘Independent.’  This allows us to teach and practice new skills in each guide. With this thought in mind, once kiddos are able to read their own history and science material, we desire for them to be doing the reading. This aids in better retention, produces stronger written and oral narrations, increases a child’s vocabulary as they see and read difficult words in print, and gives the child a chance to pace the reading as needed to suit his/her specific reading level. We do keep storytime as an area where the parent can cuddle up with the child to share great books, and we tie follow-up skills to the readings.

Older children benefit from reading on their own, and teaching time is precious, so we choose teaching tasks carefully.

As homeschool parents, we likely have limited time each day to formally “teach” our children. If we choose to utilize that precious teaching time with our older children to read aloud material that the children would benefit from reading on their own, then we draw from our well of teaching time by doing a task like reading aloud that isn’t really a teaching task. We want to be sure that any task we choose for the teacher to do is truly a teaching task.

Allowing older children to read their own material frees up time to teach important things that otherwise could be missed.

By allowing the children to read their own material, we free up time to teach important things that may otherwise be missed. We can interact with our students in studies like the Genesis study in The Radical Book for Kids, or purity studies like Beautiful Girlhood or Boyhood and Beyond, or in Biblical worldview studies through Who Is God?. Likewise, we can enjoy working  through poetry, art, and music appreciation. Additionally, we can spend time teaching writing programs, interacting with grammar lessons, hearing narrations, and dialoguing as the students show us their notebooking. We can focus on interaction with the student that goes far beyond reading aloud.

Our guides incrementally prepare students for the level of independence needed in high school and college.

The design of our guides is also intended to prepare students incrementally for the level of independence that will be needed in high school and college. We teach a high level of reading and following written directions through the ‘I’ boxes of each HOD guide. Students also need time management skills to complete the boxes independently. The students learn these skills, yet parents always have a follow-up or a product that is produced, so they can monitor students’ progress in every subject area. Students love to move toward taking on more of their own learning as they get older, and our guides tap into that God-given path toward maturity by giving the child a bit more responsibility each year.

We are seeking for meaningful interaction moments in every teaching day.

We have truly enjoyed the interactions we have with our children at each level of our HOD guides. I must admit that my 3 youngest kiddos using HOD have had many more opportunities for interaction with me than my oldest son had. This is because we had previously tried so many of the various curricula out there on his homeschool journey. At HOD, we are seeking for “meaningful interaction” moments in every teaching day. We plan for them in each of our guides. So, rest assured, you can know teaching time is there for you each and every day.

Blessings,
Carrie