What should I do for high school for my 14 year-old who struggles?

Dear Carrie

What should I do for high school for my sweet 14 year-old son who struggles?

My son is 14 and starting 9th grade next year. He struggles with dyslexia, slow processing, working memory issues, and organization/attention. I read history aloud to him in his current guide, Revival to Revolution, but he still has a hard time with comprehension. He often asks me to re-read what I’ve just read. Written Narrations are extremely difficult. He does the State Study, Independent History, and sometimes the notebooking on his own. However, he often has to redo assignments because he misread directions. He does okay with EE’s Science and loves the experiments, but the Inventor Study is hard for him. He does fine with R & S English 6. For DITHOR, I chose Mr. Poppers Penguins, as it has short chapters. He’s doing well with VideoText and enjoys Bible.

A Brief History of My Son’s Prior School Experience

My son attended public school from K-4th grade. He was diagnosed with apraxia of speech and sensory integration disorder, and put on the autism spectrum. Later, they determined he was not on the autism spectrum. So, he was placed in the classroom with a 504 plan due to dyslexia and anxiety. He wasn’t passing tests, and they wanted him on medication. So, we decided to homeschool, combining him with his brother in Bigger Hearts. It was hard, but he made it through PHFHG. When he started CTC, it became apparent he just couldn’t read. So, he did an Orton-Gillingham type program for 25 minute sessions with a therapist. He had some great tools to tackle reading and writing, so I tried to put him in RevtoRev. This is hard! He’s so sweet, well-mannered, and tries SO hard. I really struggle with the thought of high school next year. Help!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Sweet Son with His Struggles in School”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Sweet Son with His Struggles in School,”

Thank you for sharing about your son! One thing that I am hearing in your post is the frustration and struggle that school is right now for both you and your son. While some struggle can just be a part of learning, overall we don’t want the entire day to be a struggle, nor do we want your son’s high school years to be a struggle! With this in mind, I think some perspective is needed. It sounds like you have gotten your son some help for his reading and have some new strategies to employ. However, he really isn’t able to get the full benefit from that training right now because the reading is too far above him. It’s also important to note that he would be on an IEP (with modifications) if he were in the public school, and you are already modifying for him anyway.

By placing your son in Creation to Christ, he will be able to complete all the guides through Missions to Modern Marvels.

So, with all of this in mind, I would be inclined to place him in Creation to Christ (CTC). This would allow him to complete all the guides through Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM) by the time he graduates. We have had families follow this plan for their high school students in the past, and it would allow him to earn many of his needed credits. Since you are already having to modify anyway, it would be better to meet him more closely to where he is now and proceed forward, rather than having him struggle so much.

He will be able to do the CTC readings and plans more independently.

If he did CTC, it would be probable that he could do the readings himself. It would also be possible that he could do more of the boxes in the way in which they were truly written to be done. I agree that using a lower level book for Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR) is a good idea. It is important to meet him where he is and go forward from there. Otherwise, everything he does will always be a struggle and over his head.

Incremental steps toward higher level learning will be a huge benefit to him!

Correct placement will automatically ease some of your burden and his, by shortening the assignments and adjusting the workload for you. Doing full-speed CTC would be better balanced than doing half-speed Revival to Revolution (RevtoRev). Taking two years to do RevtoRev and another two years to do MTMM is not as good of a plan as doing CTC, RTR, RevtoRev, and MTMM. You can see that you will end up the same place in either plan (by completing MTMM as a senior). Yet, the education he will receive by doing four guides instead of two, and the incremental steps toward higher level learning he will gain will be of huge benefit to him!

Your son will benefit from the many building blocks in CTC just by doing the guide as it is written.

I would do CTC as written, except for doing Rod and Staff English 6. I’d even be inclined to do the Life Science/Biology as written, knowing this will be an area of modification anyway through the years. I would do the scheduled writing program, WWTB I too. There are so many building blocks in CTC for all areas of education that I think he could really benefit from as he matures. It would be an excellent stepping stone to what is to come.

An Encouraging Story from a Mom with a Similar Situation

To encourage you, I’ll share that you are not alone in considering doing CTC for your son’s first year of high school. There are many families who have done this in past. I will share that I had a mom who was in a similar situation to yours who did this several years ago. She has followed exactly the path you are considering with your son. Her son is now a senior, and she has called each year just to tell us how pleased she is with this path and what amazing changes she has seen in her son’s attitude toward school and his ability to work on his own.

He is also severely dyslexic. He also had behavior problems that caused him to be expelled from three schools prior to coming to Heart of Dakota at the last minute after his freshman year had officially begun. She says he is a new person now, not because his learning comes easily, but because he CAN do what he is being asked and feels good about being able to do it. He does his own reading and writing, even though it takes awhile. He began CTC partway into his freshman year and did it as written with the exception of doing No-Nonsense Algebra instead for the math. School does not have to be such a struggle to be a success!

Blessings,
Carrie

Update from “Ms. Please Help My Sweet Son with His Struggles in School”

I just wanted to post an update and thank you, Carrie! Just hearing the reminder that my son would need an IEP and modifications in public school put a lot of things back in perspective for me. Also, I was very encouraged by your sharing about the student who did this plan for high school! So, we started Wednesday morning and WOW! What a difference! He read the history out loud to me. I helped a little when he got tired and read a paragraph here and there for him, but the reading level and length ended up being perfect. He completed the History Project box on his own and enjoyed it. We actually finished Unit 1 Day 1 within an actual day. I am so grateful for this advice. It is JUST what he needed. I don’t think I would have ever considered CTC on my own. Thank you!

 

How can I improve my 11-year-old’s writing and independence in CTC?

Dear Carrie

What can I do to improve my 11-year-old son’s writing and level of independence in CTC?

My 11-year-old son is combined with his advanced 12-year-old sister in Creation to Christ. Writing is hard for him, so I write down the events as I read the history. Then, he uses that list to type his written narration. He needs so much hand holding! He does have some learning issues, as well as dysgraphia. My kids were not independent in Preparing Hearts. My goal in CTC was to gradually have them gain independence, as we moved along. So, they read the science, but I’ve still been reading aloud the history. My daughter could read the history and understand it. But, my son could not! He’s even struggling reading Gentle Ben in DITHOR. I just don’t want school to be frustrating for him. He LOVES history and geography! I want him to continue to do so. Help! What can I do to improve my son’s writing and independence?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Son in CTC Improve His Writing and Independence”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Son in CTC Improve His Writing and His Independence,”

Thanks so much for sharing about your situation. In looking at your kiddos, how important is it for you to keep them together? The reason I ask is because you could consider having your son go back and do Preparing Hearts without his older sibling. He could do the history readings independently, as well as the science and independent history box as much as possible. As he didn’t do these things independently before, it is possible it won’t feel like so much of a repeat. Plus, when you read material to yourself and follow directions in the guide on your own, often the assignment will turn out differently.

Doing all of the projects, activities, and written assignments in Preparing Hearts could improve his work in all the future guides.

Did your son do pretty much all of the projects, activities, and written assignments in Preparing (or did you downsize, skip, or change assignments to fit him better)? The reason I ask is because if you did downsize, skip, or change it may not be as much of a repeat as you’d think for him to do Preparing. Plus, it is possible that in the long haul this will be a better fit for him for all the future guides which come after Preparing.

Your daughter can begin reading the CTC history to herself, as well do the rest of the “I” boxes independently.

As far as your older child goes, I would have her gain more independence by starting to read the CTC history to herself now, since she is able to do it. I would continue having her read her science on her own. I would also encourage you to have her do all of the ‘I’ independent boxes as much on her own as possible, with help from you when she hits a roadblock. You can go over directions with her, but let her have the guide to work on her ‘I’ independent boxes as much as she can on her own. I want to encourage you that this will bless all of you eventually. Your daughter will feel more grown-up, and you will have more time to be with your son to improve his work.

Otherwise, your son could work toward more independence in CTC eventually.

If returning to Preparing does not seem like a fit, you could consider teaching your son more in CTC than we plan, with the thought of moving him toward more independence eventually. I would not hold your daughter back from working independently to do this. Instead, I would let her do the assignments as close to the way they were intended as possible. This means you would work more with your son, but let your daughter be more on her own. Since you shared that your son is able to read the science readings in CTC independently, I would be inclined to think that he could also read the history readings on his own to some extent. This is because the science readings in Land Animals are fairly difficult and are not as far away from the level of the history readings as you’d think.

You could alternate reading by paragraph with him at first.

You could potentially alternate reading by paragraph with him through the history readings, eventually handing more independence over to him. Just know that it is alright if he doesn’t pronounce everything correctly. Students reading to themselves don’t pronounce everything correctly either! If he is able to do most of CTC as written, with the exception of the independent readings, this may be an option.

If you try this and end up modifying almost all of CTC’s written work and readings, I’d place him in Preparing instead.

On the other hand, if you end up modifying almost all of his written work in CTC one way or another, and are modifying the readings by reading them aloud too, then I would be inclined to think he is in over his head in most areas. In this case, he would benefit from Preparing instead. I share this because if you were a new family just coming to HOD for the first time, I would lean heavily toward placing your son in Preparing and your daughter in CTC.

The “Written Narration Tips” are helpful for kiddos who struggle with written narrations.

As far as written narrations go, it’s a good idea to refer to the Written Narration Tips (Teacher’s List) in the back of the CTC guide. This helps give some perspective on how to handle written narrations. There are some tips for kiddos who struggle with written narrations that are very helpful. So, I encourage you to take a look at those as soon as you get a chance.

You can use the helps within the daily plans for writing as well. 

Also, make sure to use the helps within the daily plans of CTC for written narrations as well. Have your kiddos begin by copying the sentence starter provided in the written narration directions box on written narration day. Then, have your kiddos answer their way through the questions provided in the box as a guide for their narration. They can honestly write a one-sentence answer for each question and end up with a good written narration. These helps in CTC bow out more and more as the year progresses. However, they are a huge help in narrating to start. They remain in the Preparing box for written narrations all year though. So, if you do decide to place your son in Preparing those helps would remain.

Balance is key, but we want his year to be joyful – to stretch him a bit but not pull him to the breaking point!

As we ponder options for your son, I want his school year to improve to be joyful and to stretch him a bit but not pull him to the breaking point! Balance is key, and kiddos with challenges need a special dose of grace and very incremental steps to higher expectations skill-wise. Teaching kiddos with learning challenges is a special calling. I know the Lord has equipped you for this task, or He would not have given your son to you. It may be that his areas of challenge are just showing themselves a bit more now as his sister is older and is gaining faster than he is (and rightfully so due to her age). Sometimes the gap between kiddos takes awhile to show itself. It may be that it is just showing itself more now. This just may be the course their academic growth is taking.

Blessings,
Carrie

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