Know your goal…exposure or mastery?

Teaching Tip 

Know your goal…exposure or mastery?

As you teach younger children, it helps to remember this is often their first exposure to many concepts.  Everything ranging from history to math to reading will be new. So to expect mastery of new concepts, or even terrific retention, at such a young age is a tall order.

How can you help young children be successful with school?

Instead with younger kiddos, strive for the following goals:

  1. Keep the lessons short.
  2. Keep the day moving along.
  3. Keep your expectations in line with your child’s age.
Resist the urge to add extra drill and practice beyond what is in the guide.

Often as parents, we think more practice is better.  The Internet makes it easy to add extra practice with little effort.  However, is this truly necessary for your child to gain exposure to a subject? If you add too much to the guide, your children may feel their school day is too long.  You may also find that the extra practice crowds out time for the rest of the subjects in the guide. There is a careful balance between enough practice and too much!  Your Heart of Dakota guide is designed with this careful balance in mind.

Young children make great gains when you least expect it.

Children will make great gains and strides in their younger years.  These gains often come unexpectedly after steady progress forward pays off. Take heart even if your little ones don’t seem to be “getting” everything you’d love them to take from the HOD guide. They will surprise you as the year passes in unexpected ways!

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: In this blog post, we looked at how to enjoy your homeschool life by simplifying your school day. To find out more ways you can enjoy your homeschool life while using our guides, check out the blog post linked below!

Enjoy Your Everyday Heart of Dakota Life

Summer is a great time for math fact practice!

Teaching Tip 

Summer is a great time to work on math fact practice.

Summer is a good time to work on firming up needed skills. Math fact practice is an easy skill to work into your summer. It is important for kiddos to memorize their addition facts and their multiplication facts. Once children know their addition and multiplication facts, they often automatically know their subtraction and division facts.

When should children learn their math facts?

Public schools often have little ones learning their addition facts as early as first grade. They typically have students learning their multiplication facts as early as third grade. I tend to be on the later side for working on memorization of facts. I usually wait until the end of second grade or third grade to make sure kiddos have their addition facts down. I’ll wait until the end of fourth or even fifth grade for drill of multiplication facts.

Why wait to drill the math facts?

I tend to wait for several reasons. First, I want to give the child every chance to learn these facts on his/her own through the math curriculum. Second, I want the child to see the need for learning the facts to solve math problems more quickly. Third, I want the child to understand the “why” behind the “how,” or the meaning of what he/she is memorizing. Whenever your child learns his/her facts, summer is a great time to work on this important area.

How can you make easy flashcards for drilling your child?

One easy way to do this is to cut index cards in half. Use the cut cards to make a set of addition cards for the 0’s. Make separate cards for 0+1, 0+2, 0+3, 0+4, 0+5, 0+6… all the way up to 0+12. Use a black marker on a white card to write the facts. Then, use a pencil to very lightly write the answer on the back of the card. To conceal the answer better, you can put a small piece of masking tape on the back of the card. Then, write the answer lightly in pencil on top of the tape. After your child has learned the 0’s set, make a set of cards like this for the 1’s. Continue making sets of cards for the 2’s, 3’s, and so on…up through the 12’s.

What simple process can you use to help your child learn the facts?

Set a time limit that your child must meet to “pass” the set of cards. 15-20 seconds is a good range, depending on the child. Time your child in passing the 0’s. Give an appropriate small reward once the child passes the 0’s. Then, move on to the 1’s. This same process works well for memorizing multiplication facts. Have the child practice only one set of cards each day and come to you when ready to test.

How can you motivate your child to learn the facts?

We paid our kiddos a quarter each time they passed a set of cards. We gave them a dollar upon completion of all 12 sets of cards. You can structure this any way that works for you.

What are the benefits of this method of fact memorization?

This method of memorization has several benefits. Memorizing a small set of cards at a time that follow a pattern is so helpful. Plus, the black writing on the white card really impresses the fact’s image in the child’s memory bank. Once the cards are made, you can save them for future kiddos! Try partnering with your child in this and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

Summer is good time to work on keyboarding

Teaching Tip

Summer is good time to work on keyboarding skills.

Summer is a wonderful time to work on skills that will help your child during the school year. One skill that we’ve worked on with our older kiddos during the summer is keyboarding.

How much time is needed to see progress?

It is amazing how much progress can be made with just 10-15 min. of steady practice each day. We set a timer and have our older boys practice typing Monday-Friday during the summer months.

What can you use to teach keyboarding?

We happen to use and enjoy Typing Instructor, but you can use any program that works well for your family. Just be sure that your kiddos are placing their fingers in the correct positions on the keyboard.

What are the benefits?

Strong keyboarding skills are a huge help during the school year as students type their essays and writing projects! Teach it this summer and reap the rewards when school rolls around again.

Blessings,
Carrie

A little bit of playtime can go a long way!

Teaching Tip

A little bit of playtime can go a long way!

If you have little ones, here’s a tip you can put into practice during summer break! This summer, train your little ones to have a 20-30 minute playtime alone in a designated safe area at least once daily.  For really young ones, the playpen or the crib can serve as the designated area.  For kiddos aged 3 or older, a gated play area can work well. For kiddos closer to school-age, playtime in their bedroom can be an option.

What can the kiddos do during this designated playtime?

During playtime in the designated area, we had certain toys for the child to play with during that time. When the kids were younger, we kept those toys/books in 5 lidded storage tubs numbered days 1-5.  Each day, we just pulled out the next numbered tub. We stored the tubs under our bed. When the kiddos got older, we listed safe toys from our playroom on index cards numbered 1-5 instead. We placed the index cards on a ring on our fridge.  We flipped to a new card each day to know which toys to set out for playtime for that day.

Focus on getting your young ones to have some playtime alone in a safe space.

There are many different variations you could use to accomplish this goal.  The focus needs to be on the little one having a bit of playtime alone in a safe environment. This is so helpful during the school year and makes for a happy little one and a happy mama! Don’t despair if the training takes some time. Just remember you are training for the future.

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: Looking for more ways to utilize playtime to keep your days running smoothly? Check out this Teaching Tip!

Teaching Boys Good Habits Right Away

Pondering Placement for Boys

Teaching Boys Good Habits Right Away

I bought Heart of Dakota’s Little Hands to Heaven (LHTH) for my 3 turning 4-year old son. When it came time to start, he fought me on it! He was not excited to start like his sister was at that age. So, after a few days I set it aside. Since then, he has shown interest in the R & S Workbooks. He does them really well when he wants. He sees his older siblings doing their guides and has gotten more interested. So, we tried doing the first week of LHTH again. He just doesn’t seem as engaged as his older sisters were. I am doing Little Hearts for His Glory (LHFHG) with my 6 year-old daughter, but I don’t think that would be a good fit for him yet. It is too advanced for him. What should I do?

Carrie’s Reply in Regard to Teaching Boys:

I’ll share a few things I’ve discovered in my homeschool journey with my own 4 boys. One thing to be aware of is that many little boys will battle you just to battle. They have in their little minds what they want to do (which often is play), and they don’t want to be told otherwise. It’s important to remember that with homeschooling your role has shifted now with you being both the teacher and the mama.

Teaching Boys the Habit of Respectful Obedience

One thing that helps my boys is for me to tell them that if they went to school, they would have to do what their teacher said. When they are at home, the same is true now, because I am their teacher. This means when I tell them to do something, I expect them to respect me and obey. If they do not obey, there will be consequences. At our house, for a quick effective consequence, we had our little boys stand with their nose in the corner for not obeying. We had them stand 30 seconds up to a minute for each year of their age. They were not to look out from the corner, or we would start the timer again. When they came out of the corner, they needed to say why they were there and then apologize and behave differently. If not, it was back to the corner. For us, that was very effective.

How Carpet Squares Help Little Boys Focus

Next, for my little ones, I got a carpet square for them to sit on (one per child). I sat on my own carpet square. This delineates a space for them to be. To start our LHTH, we always got out the carpet squares and sat down. Then, we read the Bible story first. I held up the Bible and showed the pictures to my little one. He stayed on his carpet square, and I stayed on mine. This effectively ended all wrestling that had previously happened when I tried to keep my little one on my lap, and also ended any rolling around on the floor!

This also helped our boys see me as the teacher!

This also showed me as the teacher sharing the book with him. It helped establish my role. Honestly, teaching LHTH is much more about establishing your role as a teacher than it is about tricking your child into having fun. Your child will eventually have fun doing LHTH, once your role is established. Until then, your son will battle you for control by simply refusing and complaining. After I read the Bible story, then I asked the questions. I expected some answer, but I didn’t drag the activity out. Next, we put on the music and marched around the room while it played. We marched in a circle and kept even the marching in control (i.e. no falling down on the ground, pushing, etc.). I marched too.

Thoughts on Boys and the Fingerplays

Then, we came back to our carpet squares and did the fingerplay. My boys had to participate, or we would start over. I said a line and did the motion, then they said a line and did the motion (echo style). We did this the first 2-3 days of the fingerplay. The last 2-3 days we did it together with no echoing. They had two chances to start right in with me, or they went to the corner. I don’t allow any eye-rolling or silliness with the fingerplay, but we did have fun and smile.

The fingerplays actually are meant for the two sides of the brain to communicate with one another doing both sounds and motions at the same time. This takes coordination of the two sides of the brain, making the fingerplays have a hidden element. The motions also provide a great cuing system for the sounds later when your child begins to read. We only did the fingerplay once, so the whole activity even with echoing was over in just minutes. My boys need to be able to do what I tell them for just a few minutes cheerfully, even if it something happens not to be their favorite thing. This is because my time is important, and as a teacher I expect to be obeyed.

Boys and Hands-on Activities

Next, we went on to the letter activity or the hands-on activity. We typically left the more art-oriented things (or things needing to be done at the table) to be done last. In this way, we moved to the table last of all. Boys tend to love hands-on activities, so they would often keep enjoying this activity while I moved on to teaching an older son!

You can start LHTH half-speed to help train your son.

For now, I would work on doing LHTH at half-speed, doing 3 boxes each day. I would work on having your son come to school right when you call him and work on making sure he obeys you. To help him obey, I would make sure to do his school in the morning at about the same time, so he knows it is coming. Boys do better knowing what is coming! If he does not obey, I would warn him once and then give an effective, quick consequence each time he does not obey. You may find yourself giving more consequences than doing school right now. However, keep your cool and stay calm. If you do use the corner, then when he returns, after he apologizes, cheerfully go back to the school again.

Boys don’t like to be randomly pulled away from playing to do school, so routine helps.

Make sure that you do not pull him away from play randomly to do school, or he will really battle you. Instead, have his school begin after he has just completed something that has a definite ending point, like an educational DVD. Keep his routine the same, so he knows that school always comes after the same thing in his day. You want him to expect school and know it is coming.

Boys rarely battle when they see you as the teacher with an established routine to follow.

I say all of this to help you see that LHTH is about training your son to see you as the teacher and to obey you the first time you ask him to do something. This is so important to his schooling to come and will save you many battles along the way in the future. If you don’t feel that you want to train him now, then don’t start LHTH. When you do start, know you are about the training and will need to devote time to it each day. My hope is to give you some practical advice that helped me be a better teacher. I enjoy school with my older sons today, because the routine was established when they were younger. We battle very little with our older ones thanks to the foundation laid in the younger years.

Blessings,
Carrie