Flexible Pacing for Homeschooling Little Ones 4 or 5 Days a Week

From Our House to Yours

Flexible Pacing for Homeschooling Little Ones 4 or 5 Days a Week

We have now used Heart of Dakota from PreK through 12th grade! One of the things I love best as a busy homeschool mom is the flexible pacing. Back in 2004, I began homeschooling with just one guide, Little Hands to Heaven. Wyatt was 4 years old, and Riley was 5-months old. When Wyatt reached Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory at 6 years old, Riley began Little Hands to Heaven slowly at 3 years old, and that was my first time to do two guides at once.  The following year Wyatt began Bigger Hearts for His GloryRiley was still finishing  Little Hands to Heaven, and Emmett made his grand entry into this world as baby #3.  For these first 4 years of homeschooling, we homeschooled 5 days a week, and I was so very thankful! Each day had just enough homeschool to keep my sons happy and content.

I preferred to homeschool 5 days a week when all my children were little.

When my children were under age 8, I preferred to homeschool 5 days a week. I had almost forgotten why when I asked a young mom how staying home was going. Well, pretty good, I guess. We get up at 7 AM when baby wakes up. I dress the children, feed them, take them on a stroll, play with them, have them watch a short video, do puzzles, read some board books, and then it’s 9:30 A.M. I don’t know what else to do, so we just do it all over again… and again… and again… and then we are just looking at each other like, what now?!? Honestly, we are just so glad to see Daddy walk through the door! That is when I remembered why I loved homeschooling 5 days a week with little ones! Our days were just the right balance of homeschool and free time.

I preferred to homeschool 4 days a week when my oldest son started Preparing Hearts for His Glory.

Once my oldest son started Preparing Hearts for His Glory, he was on a 4 day a week schedule. He began to take on more independence, not only in homeschooling but in life in general. Wyatt loved to lead his younger brothers in playtime, and they loved to be led. He came up with endless games to play, outdoors and indoors. They couldn’t wait to see what he came up with next!  A new day was dawning. I was no longer the sole form of entertainment. In fact, I’d taken a backseat to big brother. I began to realize I’d truly enjoy a 4 day week. If I could just get everyone on board with a 4 day week, life would be grand!

I liked going half-speed and full-speed with several guides to move toward a 4 day week.

As each of my children saw all the fun Wyatt was having in HOD, I started them homeschooling on the youngest side of the age range of the guides. I wanted to have special mommy time with them anyway. Riley was on the youngest side of the target age range when I had the epiphany I’d enjoy doing homeschool just 4 days a week. So, for Riley, it made sense simply to move toward doing school 4 days a week. For awhile we did a January to December homeschool year for him, where he’d start a new guide in January. As he is my artistic, creative child, I spread out his Creation to Christand Resurrection to Reformation years. I went half-speed, then full-speed with Creation to Christ. Then I went half-speed, full-speed with Resurrection to Reformation. Voila!  He reached Revival to Revolution at the start of 7th grade.

I knew I wanted to go 4 days a week with my youngest son from the very start.

When my last little one started Little Hands to Heaven, I knew I wanted him to be on a 4 day a week schedule. As it turns out, it’s just a math problem to be figured out to make that happen. And oh, how I love a good math problem! There are 4 days of plans for 35 weeks for Preparing Hearts through U.S. History II. That equals 140 days of school each year (which is really 5 days of school planned in 4 days to save us a day, so if you’re from a strict 175 days of school state, you’re still ‘getting it in’ and can always spread it out to 175 days if you feel you must, but I digress).  Okay, back to the concept of 140 days a year so you can homeschool 4 days a week with everyone once your oldest reaches Preparing Hearts.

I liked this schedule for doing Little Hands to Heaven through Bigger Hearts for His Glory for 4 days a week.

I planned for 135 days a year, to account for easing into younger guides and to account for the increased sick days little ones often have. It works out perfectly to do 135 days a year, doing 4 guides in 5 years with the schedule below.

1st Year:  Little Hands to Heaven, Units 1-27

2nd Year:  Little Hands to Heaven, Units 28-33; Little Hearts for His Glory, Units 1-21

3rd Year:  Little Hearts for His Glory, 22-34; Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, Units 1-14

4th Year:  Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, Units 15-34; Bigger Hearts for His Glory, Units 1-7

5th Year:  Bigger Hearts for His Glory, Units 8-34

*Note: You can always do 140 days of school each year with your little ones, if  you prefer. Just start your little one on the same day as your olders, but start slowly, taking an extra 5 days to ease into the guide. Or, spread out the end of the guide at the end of the homeschool year, so everyone finishes together. Easy peasy!

Heart of Dakota is very flexible!

I have been very thankful Heart of Dakota is so flexible through the past 17 years! If you happen to have little ones starting Little Hands to Heaven alongside older ones doing HOD guides 4 days a week, this is one plan you might enjoy!  No matter what, HOD has flexible pacing, as guides are not planned according to specific days of the week, months, or holidays. With 365 days in the calendar year, there are endless pacing possibilities!  Hope this gives you one more way to ponder!

In Christ,
Julie

 

 

How can my son better comprehend Child’s History of the World?

Dear Carrie

How can I help my son better comprehend and enjoy Child’s History of the World?

Dear Carrie,

My 11 year old fifth grader is using Heart of Dakota‘s Preparing Hearts . He narrates Grandpa’s Box well, but he struggles to comprehend the reading of Child’s History of the World (CHOW) . The last time we read I had to go back and explain what was happening. He just can’t seem to follow it. I know many people rave about how easy and enjoyable CHOW is!  For this child, it just is not that way. We are hitting the section where there will be a lot of CHOW. I’m just not sure what to do. We’ve currently taken a break from it. He’s reading books he is able to engage with like Bound for Oregon. I’ve not heard or read anyone else having this particular struggle with this book. How can I help my son better comprehend and enjoy Child’s History of the World?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Son Better Comprehend and Enjoy Child’s History of the World”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Son Better Comprehend and Enjoy Child’s History of the World,”

I can see wanting your son to better comprehend and enjoy Child’s History of the World (CHOW). While CHOW is a narrative telling of history, it’s important to remember that it is still a telling of history (meaning it is full of names, dates, and places that really raise the reading/listening level of the text)! This means that CHOW is a much more difficult book than a narrative story like Bound for Oregon. Both have their purposes.

The difference between narrative historical fiction books and narrative nonfiction history spines.

Books like Bound for Oregon are historical fiction, with one character who you stay with throughout the book. This makes it very easy to stay with the storyline without much effort. Books like CHOW are filled with different “characters” and places from history every single day. They are much more work to listen to attentively and harder to narrate from, because you really have to have cultivated the habit of attention to be able to narrate from a book where the characters and places are always changing! This is the habit we must seek to cultivate. You can see, as I’m sharing about the differences between the two types of books, that they are fulfilling two different sets of skills. So, to neglect one or the other type of reading means that the child will then be missing a whole set of accompanying skills.

We are gradually working a child up in their reading/listening level with books like CHOW.

Readings like CHOW are more similar to what children will be reading in history and science texts as they progress through their academic subjects (even though CHOW is much more narrative than a typical text). CHOW forces a child to grow and stretch as needed to be able to handle more difficult readings in this vein with each successive year. We are gradually working a child up in their reading/listening level gently guide by guide with books like CHOW, rather than making a huge jump in these areas when the child hits high school. Incremental steps are always better than a big, huge leap forward in requirements!

We expect the readings/listenings in CHOW to be challenging, but you can use a markerboard to help.

So, with this in mind, just be encouraged that we actually expect the readings/listenings in CHOW to be challenging. We expect the child to slowly gain in this area throughout the year. So, what should you do to help your child? First of all, it is a good idea to list any major names and places on a markerboard before the reading and read them aloud to your child, having him repeat them after you. This is something Charlotte Mason herself advocated.

Your child can read CHOW on his own and use the markerboard as a reference as he narrates.

Next, as your child is in fifth grade, you can have him read CHOW on his own. If he can read Bound for Oregon on his own, he can read CHOW on his own. It is often true that children narrate better when they read something themselves. It is true for me too! As your son gets ready to narrate, have the markerboard there for him to refer to the names and places as he narrates. Don’t jump in and explain the text to him, no matter how much you want to (as this actually helps you understand the text better but also means you are doing the work of sifting and sorting the information to make meaning, which is the work we need him to do)!

You can do the Preparing guide’s follow-ups after reading, making sure not to give personal commentary.

Then, do the follow-ups in the Preparing guide. Don’t embellish or give a bunch of personal commentary. I know this is hard, as it is second nature for us to want to share our own connections or summarize for the child, but instead let the child share (even if it is very painful or very short). Otherwise, you are truly getting in between the child and the reading. If he cannot figure out an answer to a question in the Preparing guide, both of you should skim the reading for the answer and then you can run your finger under it and have him read just that brief part out loud. Often, kiddos feel they are not getting the “right” answer, so they no longer want to share. They would just rather wait for you to supply the answer. This is an alternative to that.

You can have him narrate after reading a few pages at a time, if need be.

If needed, you can have him narrate after he’s read a couple of pages. Then, have him read a couple more and pause and narrate again. If he shares anything, find a way to compliment him. Work to compliment his answers rather than asking for more information right now. Even a sentence or two is alright when you are learning a new skill. You could just respond, “Oooh that sounds interesting!” Or, “Really? I didn’t know that!” Or, “Wow, I had no idea that _____ (and then repeat back a bit of what he said)!” Or, “That sounds exciting!” Or, “I never knew that _____ (and share a bit of something he mentioned). Or, “Oh that makes me want to know more!” Or, “Now, you’ve got me wondering what will happen next. I’ll be interested to hear more about this as you keep reading!”

He is seeking your approval, and he needs to be able to share his own connections without worrying about being ‘wrong.’

It will come, but it won’t happen overnight. Right now he is in the stage where he is seeking your approval, trying to find the answer that you feel is “right”.  All children do this when the material is difficult. He has to learn the freedom to share his own thoughts and connections, as he grapples with difficult material, without worrying he’ll be wrong.

In Short…

So, in short, I’d go over the names and places on the markerboard before he reads (making sure he repeats them to you before starting so he has proper pronunciation). Next, he should read CHOW on his own, pausing every couple of pages to share a sentence or two narration about what he read. Compliment his sharing, whatever it is, and don’t ask for more right now. After reading a couple more pages, he should share again (just a couple sentence narration). Don’t prod for more – just compliment.

Last, do the follow-up in the guide. Don’t add to the follow-up with commentary, just do what is there. Help him skim for answers if needed. Run your finger under the answer for him in CHOW to read it aloud, but don’t answer for him. If he doesn’t share much, do not have him reread. Just keep moving forward each day, keeping the lessons short and sweet. You will see progress, but it will take up to 9 weeks. So, be patient! Just know the growing pains you are experiencing are expected, and you’re not alone.

Blessings,
Carrie

Update from “Ms. Please Help My Son Better Comprehend and Enjoy Child’s History of the World:”

Dear Carrie,

I wanted to let you know how it is going. I now only write a few names on the markerboard as I realized that a lot of the big/unfamiliar names have pronunciation keys right in the book. So, we just look over those before we start. He reads 2 pages (with me sitting right there) and then narrates what he has connected to in that section. He then goes on and reads the rest of the chapter and narrates again at the end.

I am excited and amazed that reading it this way, he is starting to connect with this book!!! He is picking up on the little funny things that Hillyer notes about the characters. For example, he got quite a kick out of Socrates’ wife dumping water on his head. He even got Socrates’ pithy little response, “After thunder, expect rain.” That’s amazing for him! I am thrilled that we have continued on with this and have found a way to help him read, enjoy and learn from CHOW. Thanks, again, Carrie, for your specific helps that have helped me approach this from a different perspective.

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Son Better Comprehend and Enjoy Child’s History of the World”

 

 

 

 

 

Why homeschool? Less screen time, more book time!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool?  Less screen time, more book time!

One of the biggest battles we will fight for our children in this day and age is too much screen time. We see children using smartphones or tablets, playing video games, working on computers, watching television, etc., day in, day out. As parents, the allure of less expensive books, easily and readily available on media devices is strong. We see brick and mortar schools facing this same allure of a lower budget when choosing media resources. Real books cost more money, plain and simple. We see the results of the bottom dollar. More often than not, schools are investing in media devices rather than books. I believe Charlotte Mason would be appalled.

If all of our children’s ‘books’ are digital, what does the rest of their day look like?

If our children spend all day on media devices for the reading of books or literature, what does the rest of their day look like? This is a battle. We all know too much screen time is not good – it’s not good for us as adults. It is all the more not good for our children, whose brains and bodies are still developing. Too much screen time has been linked to numerous harmful side effects such as obesity, sleep deprivation, vision problems, problems in school, loss of social skills, and increased aggression. As parents, we know our children will have future careers that require knowledge and expertise in communicating and working with media. However, we also see the detriments of them having way too much screen time. What is a parent to do?

In homeschooling, we can choose printed books and resources as the primary source of education materials.

In homeschooling, we have the opportunity to choose printed books and resources as the primary source of our education materials. Simply by choosing printed resources, we can decrease our children’s daily screen time. We can also choose to use media resources only when they truly are the best choice. Furthermore, we can choose these resources in a more controlled and easily monitored way, so our children don’t fall victim to less than desirable websites or links.

In Heart of Dakota, children learn to love to read real books, while still learning to use media resources in a balanced, monitored way.

In Heart of Dakota, we have children use audio CDs, instructional DVDs, online encyclopedias, and interactive websites. However, these are used in a very balanced, monitored sort of way that is cognizant of children’s age and maturity. Whenever possible, real books are used and options are given. Children are encouraged to use print materials, to often write instead of type, and to respond to what they are reading with all types of assessments, including hands-on. So when you are weary as a parent at the end of your homeschool day and your child wants to watch a movie, play a short online game, watch a television show, chat with someone online, or hop on the computer, you can say ‘yes’ to what you are comfortable with, knowing at least for the rest of their day, they weren’t doing the exact same thing.

In Christ,

Julie

Know What Drains You and Know What Fills You Up

A Heart of Dakota Life

Know What Drains You and Know What Fills You Up

There are only 24 hours in a day, and there are only 7 days in a week. How do you spend your time? Each day has tasks we must do, but each day also has open time to do with it as we choose. We might not think of our days this way, but much time truly is at our discretion. Blessedly, we don’t all have to spend our time the same way. God did not design us all to be exactly alike. He made us each unique, with different interests, gifts, talents, and purposes. One key to unlocking the joy and peace that can simplify your life is to know what drains you and what fills you up.

What drains you?

I am not a night owl. As the day turns to night, I grow more and more weary. I used to try to work, homeschool, or exercise at night. But it simply drains me! I go to bed most nights by 10 PM, and I avoid one of my ‘drains.’ I dislike overflowing trash cans, dirty dishes, and unmade beds. The sight of them drains me. So, we clean up the best we can after supper, but first thing in the morning, we take out the trash, unload the dishwasher/wash any big pans in the sink, and make our beds. Another drain avoided. Too many errands, appointments, or activities in the day drain me. So, I do errands on Saturdays. I schedule only one appointment a week if possible. I also limit our activities during the morning and early afternoon, so we are home to homeschool. In doing so, I avoid one of my ‘drains.’ What drains you? How can you avoid your ‘drains?’

What fills you up?

I love coffee, first thing in the morning and lots of it. I’ve given up pop, sugary snacks, and too many carbs, but plain black coffee I will not give up. It simply fills me up too much! I love doing my devotion first thing in the morning all by myself. Right after my devotions, I love spending 1:1 time with each of my children. In our pajamas, with my steaming coffee, I meet first with Wyatt, then Emmett, then Riley. We discuss their Heart of Dakota Bible, any work they’ve done, and the day ahead. Hot bubble baths, Christian praise music, a new recipe to try, a date with my husband, a long run in the country, a pretty sunrise, family meals, hugs, a roaring fireplace, and my list of what fills me up goes on. What fills you up? How can you make time for these?

What drains one person may fill another person up!

Many people have lovely gardens. They enjoy spending hours tending to it. I love to cook, so I thought I’d love to garden. One day as I was enjoying my morning coffee, my morning devotion reiterated we are all unique with different God-given purposes. The words ‘stop doing what you are not good at’ jumped out on the page at me. I began to laugh out loud, and I have a feeling God was laughing with me. I knew exactly what I needed to stop doing: gardening. Truly, I am not gifted at it. Anything that grew in that garden was a gift from God. In fact, all we kept were the raspberries. They grow completely on their own. Are you finding yourself drained by doing something that fills someone else up? Maybe it’s time to stop.

What does this have to do with simplifying and loving your homeschooling?

If you fill your time with things that drain you, you will not have much peace, joy, and contentment to bring to your home and your homeschooling. Taking time to do what fills you up helps you in turn be a happier, more joyful, less stressed, more patient homeschool teacher and mom. Our children should not only be aware of what drains us as moms. They should also be aware of what fills us up. My children often bring me a cup of coffee, give me hug, turn on the fireplace for our Storytime reading, start my favorite Christian praise song, show me a pretty sunrise, or ask me all about a new recipe I made. They know what fills me up, and they like me better ‘filled up’ than ‘drained.’ I like that me better too.

Simplify and love your homeschool life by eliminating ‘drains’ and adding things that ‘fill you up!’

Short-tempered, cranky, rude mothers don’t produce happy, peaceful homes or children. Do yourself, your children, and your husband a favor, and eliminate the ‘drains’ you can. Then, plan some things each day that fill you up. There’s only one you, so don’t try to be someone else. Just because someone else enjoys tending a lovely garden, that doesn’t mean you too were born to be a gardener. We don’t have to be good at everything.  But we do have to be responsible for how we behave. Take real time to stop your ‘drains’ and plan for simple daily ways to ‘fill you up.’  I bet you will love the new you, and your children and husband will too!

In Christ,

Julie

World Geography for Open-and-Go, or Revival to Revolution for Best Placement?

Dear Carrie

Should my son do World Geography to keep it open and go, even though he places best in Revival to Revolution?

I’m a mother of 7 children. We use Heart of Dakota with all of our children. We tried some different things with our 13 year old son, and we’re so glad to be back! My son is finishing up Resurrection to Reformation. He didn’t do the extensions.  He’s using Revival to Revolution’s physical science.  We didn’t do RTR’s IEW writing. (Failure on my part!) In truth, he hasn’t had much formal writing. He will be 14 in August. This next year will be his freshman year, and I’d like him to use Revival to Revolution. I love HOD’s open and go feature. When I consider the things we’ll need to modify, I start to panic that it won’t get done. So, my question is, should my son do World Geography, even though he places best in Revival to Revolution, so we could keep the open and go aspect?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Choose Between Open-and-Go World Geography or Better Placement Revival to Revolution”

Dear “Ms. Choose Between Open-and-Go World Geography or Better Placement Revival to Revolution,”

If you are finding RTR to be a good fit for your son, then it may be wise to move into Revival to Revolution for his 9th grade year. Since he hasn’t had much in the way of formal writing instruction or formal literature instruction, I’d lean toward doing RevtoRev for those areas along with the DITHOR Level 7/8 Book Pack. However, from what you’ve shared thus far, a more independent type program may be needed in those areas for the time being. With that in mind, you could definitely borrow the literature and writing from the World Geography guide to use with RevtoRev. Both may be a challenge, but they would be more independent and be on grade level for high school.

I would do either the BJU Literature or the novels with DITHOR 6/7/8.

If the literature looked too overwhelming in the World Geography guide, you could potentially do just the BJU lit. text without the novels or do just the novels with DITHOR 6/7/8 without the BJU lit. text. Either option would downsize how heavy the literature is but still keep your son moving forward in this needed area.

I would do R & S English 5 all year to cover his bases well and follow up with R & S English 6.

For grammar, I would do English 5 all in one year as planned in RevtoRev. English 5 is a key year in Rod and Staff and will cover his bases well in this area. Even if you stall out and need to take more than one year to do English 5, it is good to keep going on through it until you finish it. It is a terrific level of Rod and Staff. We will definitely want to follow-up with English 6 after that!

I would omit Storytime and do the Extensions.

You can omit the Storytime and do the Extension books instead in RevtoRev for high school. If the reading in the Extension Pack looks too heavy, he could instead do the Storytime books rather than the Extension package. He could look at both sets to see which appeals more.

I would consider doing IPC from World Geography for science.

For science, since you have already done the science in RevtoRev this year, you could consider doing the IPC from the World Geography guide for science as well. This would be a good first year of high school science for your son. If he is headed toward a science degree, he should follow the science path of the high school guides. He could consider doing Physics instead of the Astronomy and Geology for his senior year if desired. But, you will know much more about his interests for college once you get to his senior year.

I would address government later in his junior or senior year.

You could hold off on doing Government for now, as getting formal literature and writing in will be much more important for his first year of high school. If he is college-bound we have to make the lit/comp/grammar a primary focus this year. We can always address the government part later, adding it in his junior or senior year.

I would add Spanish as a foreign language credit.

I would also consider adding the Spanish from World Geography to his day to get him started on needed foreign language. Getting Started with Spanish is short and sweet and an easy way to begin that credit.

So, his credits would be as follows:

U.S. History I (1 full credit)
Fundamentals of Literature/Composition (1 full credit)
Integrated Physics and Chemistry with Lab (1 full credit with lab)
Math (1 full credit Algebra I hopefully)
Spanish I (1/2 credit)
Bible (1/2 credit – if you add additional free time Bible reading to the RevtoRev plans or sub this out with World Geography’s Bible. The World Geography Bible is worth 1 credit but will be quite a bit more intensive. If he liked the Bible in RTR, I would probably stay with the Bible as written in Rev2Rev.)
Fine Arts: Music Appreciation (1/2 credit)

Blessings,
Carrie