Kids Listening to Music While Doing Their Work

Dear Carrie

What are your thoughts on your kids listening to music while doing their work?

My kids listen to their own music playlists. I would prefer classical music, if anything. I find it distracting, personally. How can you fully concentrate on something you are reading with music that has words? I guess my question is, what are your thoughts on your kids listening to music while doing their work?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me with Kids Wanting to Listen to Music While Doing Their Work”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with Kids Wanting to Listen to Music While Doing Their Work,”

This is a great question and is one we have grappled with too over many years of homeschooling! We give our boys a lot more autonomy in this area once they get to high school. Prior to the student reaching the high school years, my husband and I have decided that music is distracting to the rest of us who are nearby, often slows the student down, makes the student less able to listen to the teacher’s voice, and also often affects the child’s work negatively causing them to lose attention to detail and rush through their work to get to the music.

High school marks a change in our response to our kids listening to music while doing work.

Prior to high school, we have our boys dock their iPods during school hours. Once they get to the early years of high school, we let them listen to music during inspirational type subjects. When they get to the later years of high school, we don’t monitor it and let them choose what they think is best as to when they listen to music and when they do not. They are required to wear ear buds/headphones when listening. With these few guidelines, we have had good success with making music an option during schoolwork.

Blessings,
Carrie

Encouragement for Meeting NCAA Requirements and Foreign Language Credits

Dear Carrie

Can you provide encouragement for meeting NCAA requirements and explain how to count foreign language credits?

Dear Carrie,

My son will enter 9th grade using World Geography. I’m planning ahead. He’d like to play baseball in college, and I need some help with NCAA. I’ve called them for a list of approved curriculum, but they can’t give me one. My son wants to continue with how he’s been learning with Heart of Dakota and not have to go to a textbook. I want that too. I’ve talked to the NCAA homeschool department with questions. They’ve reassured me they just will be looking if the courses are college prep. If they have questions about resources (living books vs. textbooks), they aren’t going to throw it out.

I’ve worked on the core course worksheets. I have found the course descriptions etc. in the front of the WG guide to be invaluable. The thoroughness of the information passes the scrutiny of anyone who is evaluating the courses for content. One exception is the 1/2 credit per year of foreign language. I guess I just need encouragement and wonder how to handle the foreign language?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Give Encouragement for Help with NCAA & Foreign Language”

Dear “Ms. Please Give Encouragement for Help with NCAA & Foreign Language,”

You asked for encouragement!  I have some. I wanted to first briefly share the story of a family who emailed us about a similar topic. The family of more than 10 children has been using HOD with their two oldest since they were in the third grade. The second oldest son was a heavily recruited football player who received many academic scholarships and football offers. The family shared that they received nothing but praise from the numerous colleges he was accepted into (over 25) for the quality of his education and how it was reflected in his test scores, transcripts, and essays.

After being accepted into numerous NCAA universities, he signed with the NCAA college of his choice. The family emailed us to share how thankful they were for HOD, and its part in where their sons are now. We truly love this family, and we were so happy for them and their children’s success, praise be to God!

Encouragement for Meeting NCAA Requirements

I share this to encourage you that schooling with HOD through high school with thoughts of college sports and NCAA requirements in mind is possible. What the Lord desires for our children will come to pass, as nothing can circumvent the Lord’s plan!

Counting Foreign Language Credits

I will also mention that as far as counting foreign language goes, you can easily award a full credit in the year the student completes the credit rather than listing foreign language as a half credit each year for 4 years. So the student could list a full credit of Spanish I as a sophomore and then a full credit of Spanish II as a senior.

Course Descriptions and Grading Aid in Helping You in This Process

Also, the course descriptions and grading for each subject at the beginning of the guide are excellent for proving where you got your grades, as you have already discovered. You can print those pages from the HOD website to turn in. Most guides have over 50 pages of descriptions in the Introductions which are hugely helpful in this process. They were written to aid you in college entrance. We are excited for your son’s future, and we can’t wait to see what the Lord has planned for him!

Blessings,

Carrie

Economics in U.S. History II

Dear Carrie

How long does U.S. History II’s Economics take, and what types of assignments go with it?

We’ve enjoyed using Heart of Dakota for a decade now. Like always about this time of year, I am starting to think about next year. I was wondering about the Economics in U.S. History II. How long does it take each day? What types of assignments go along with it? Thanks!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Describe Economics in U.S. History II”

Dear “Ms. Please Describe Economics in U.S. History II,”

The assignments vary with the books that the students are using. The opening 14-15 weeks have students watching Money-Wise DVD segments and doing corresponding video viewing guides, discussions, and assignments. These sessions average around 30-35 minutes daily. Occasionally, some days are 5-10 min. longer if the students are viewing a longer video and recording information. Once weekly, students read and annotate from Larry Burkett’s Money Matters for Teens. These days are shorter.

After moving through the Money-Wise DVD/guide sessions, students move on to reading Economics: A Free Market Reader and answering daily questions that pertain to the reading. Questions range from comprehension to application to research. The daily sessions hover around 25-30 minutes at that point, depending on how fast a child reads. The rest of the year will follow a similar pattern as the students move through the remaining Economics Resources.

I hope that helps!! My son truly enjoyed the Economics and Finance combination in U.S. History II. He talked with my husband almost daily about one or both of these subjects. We think it is timely for students to be studying Economics and Finance their senior year as they prepare for adult life. We couldn’t be more pleased with the connections between the two subjects. I found the study of these two subjects extremely entertaining as well as I planned them (and neither area was a love of mine previously)!

Blessings,
Carrie

P.S. For more general information about Heart of Dakota, click here!

Should I combine my high school students for electives?

Dear Carrie

Should I combine my high school students for electives, or is this more of a headache?

Dear Carrie,

I am wondering if I should combine my high school students for electives next year? My son will be doing Heart of Dakota’s World Geography in 9th grade. My daughter will be doing Heart of Dakota’s World History in 10th grade. So, I could have my 9th grader skip World Religion and Cultures (WRC) and Logic, to do Fine Arts and Health with his older sister. I had her do the WRC study and Logic this year. I would then have him do those two credits as a senior, since he will have done all the rest of the electives alongside his sister. The bonus would be that by that time, his younger brother would be in 9th grade, so he could do those with him. Would there be any benefit to choosing to combine my high school students for electives, or would it be more of a headache? Thanks so much for your help, Carrie!

Sincerely,

“Ms. to Combine or Not to Combine for Electives”

Dear “Ms. to Combine or Not to Combine for Electives,”

I can definitely see the reasons why you are considering combining your students for electives!  I’ll share a few thoughts that may help as you ponder what is right for your family. From a typical school perspective, electives are often just what they are named… elective credits.  In other words, these are credits that your student (or you as the parent) elect to include. These typically are not as necessary or as important as the required coursework.

HOD electives complement or enhance the credits already being earned in the rest of the guide.

I think what makes HOD electives unique is we designed the elective credits within each HOD guide to complement or enhance credits already being earned in the rest of the guide. So, we chose them to specifically be done in a certain year of study because they are more meaningful when combined with the other learning within the guide. We weighed subject content, time period, topic, or previous knowledge that we desire the student to have exposure to prior to completing the elective.

The World Religions and Cultures elective is partnered well with World Geography.

For example, the World Religions and Cultures elective will make much more sense and contain deeper connections when completed alongside the World Geography study. I wrote the two courses to complement one another. This foundation in World Religions and Cultures is also hugely helpful to have prior to progressing into World History the following year.

The Health elective is partnered well with World History’s Biology.

Another example is the Health elective in the World History guide. This study was written alongside the Biology study because the two courses complement each other very well. I also wouldn’t want a child below the World History level to study the Health too early, as it contains many mature topics that are better suited for an older student who is also currently studying the content within a biology course.

The Fine Arts elective pairs well with World History, and the Government and Constitutional Literacy electives pair well with USI.

The Fine Arts elective in the World History guide pairs very well with the study of World History. This is because study of the art and artists makes so much more sense within the framework of the study of history. Yet another example is the Government and Constitutional Literacy credits within the USI guide. The Constitutional Literacy credit is very challenging and definitely needs the Government study alongside it in order to make sense of what is being studied about the Constitution and the law. Both have overlap with the U.S. History study, and so together the three work to provide a fuller picture of the formation and governing of our nation.

Elective credits get progressively more difficult.

Another aspect of elective credit that is different in HOD is that the credits get progressively more difficult as the student’s critical thinking abilities, maturity, and level of academic skills rise. This is an often overlooked aspect when selecting electives, but in HOD it is very important. For example, the Logic study within the World Geography guide is scheduled at a time when students are ready to think more critically and logically. The fallacies students learn to spot in this guide are excellent training in how to think sequentially and logically, which is of benefit as students progress in the guides into more assignments that require these skills.

The World Religions and Cultures credit in the first year of study is meant to be easier than the Fine Arts and Health credits that are in the second year of study. The Government and Constitutional Literacy credits are meant to be much more challenging than the previous credits, which is why they are scheduled within the third year of study. Students below the third year of study would find these courses quite difficult, without first gaining the skills and knowledge within the World History guide (of various governments and types of law in past history – and their positives and negatives – and resulting successes or failures.)

Credits rise in difficulty and connect to other subjects.

So, within HOD, credits such as these are selected to rise in difficulty and to connect to other subjects scheduled within the guide. To do these credits out of order means that the harder credits may be done before we planned and that the easier credits may be done later than we planned. It also means that the connections and foundation we are planning for the student to have will not be there.

Electives play an important part in the intended balance within each guide.

The last thing to consider is the balance within each guide and the role that the elective credits play within that balance. Just as within any other HOD guide, all areas within the high school HOD guides are designed to complement and balance one another in reading level, quantity of pages, whether or not DVD viewing is included, the involvement level of the parent in the subject, the amount of writing required to complete the subject, and the way the assessments are handled. When courses are shifted from one guide to another, this balance is affected.

Elective credits are to be used in order, if possible, for these reasons.

So, while you can certainly do as desired with these credits, when writing the guide it was not my intention that the elective credits be used out of order for these reasons. It is no different in high school, with HOD, than it is with previous guides when it comes to borrowing subjects from one guide to add to another. It would honestly be easier to borrow a language arts, math, or science credit from another guide than it would be to shift around many of the elective credits.

I realize families who need only certain credits for graduation may need to tweak credits.

I do realize that for some families coming late to HOD, or for those families who need only certain specific credits for graduation, there may be more tweaking involved to get the needed credits. In those situations, my advice would differ in order to help the families get the credits they need in the least confusing way. I was thinking though, based on what you’d shared thus far, that wasn’t the situation you were asking about for your family. I hope this helps as you ponder what to do with electives!

Blessings,

Carrie

Orally Narrating from a Living Book with Multiple Proper Nouns

Dear Carrie

How can I help my daughter orally narrate from a living book with multiple proper nouns and less of a ‘flow’ of one storyline?

Dear Carrie,

We have completed Unit 2 of Heart of Dakota’s high school World Geography. I’m happy to say my daughter is enjoying it and doing well! Having said that, I’ve looked ahead and read some of A Book of Discovery myself. I can see this book is living, but it doesn’t have the same ‘flow’ of one storyline as some of the other living books. Though it is narrative, the author uses a huge quantity of proper nouns. Some we’ve heard of, and some not. I see in Unit 3, you walk students through a model of sorts to categorize the information. Extremely helpful, Carrie – thank you! So, I now come to my question. How can I help my daughter orally narrate from a living book with lots of proper nouns and less of a ‘flow’ of one storyline?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help with Narrating a Living Book with Multiple Proper Nouns”

Dear “Ms. Please Help with Narrating a Living Book with Multiple Proper Nouns,”

This is a great question! As we head into the high school years, the books do get more challenging! They do include more proper nouns in the form of names, dates, places, etc. So, while I agree this is a living book, I also agree that it has a more challenging feel to it with all of the factual information wound within its pages. You will also notice as you progress through this book that the chapters vary as to how many different episodes or events are contained within them. Consequently, your student’s narrations will really vary as well!

Students practice different types of oral narrations and eventually learn which type fits each book the best.

Learning to narrate from a book such as this is great practice, as the coming books at the high school level will contain this upped level of challenge too. You will notice that we vary the types of oral narrations in this guide, teaching 5 different types of oral narrations. In World History, we teach 6 types. In U.S. History I, we teach 7 types of oral narration. Finally, in U.S. History II, we teach 8 types of oral narration. This just shows that when narrating, there are many different ways to approach narration (and they are all viable). But, as students practice these varying types of narrating, they will also eventually learn what type of narration best fits each type of book.

In U.S. History I, we take the 7 types of oral narrations and have students practice 7 different types of written narrations.

To give you a glimpse down the road, in the U.S. History I guide, we also take those 7 types of oral narrations and have kiddos practice doing 7 different types of written narrations. We purposefully wait until the U.S. History I guide to have students do this task, as we are desiring for them to practice orally narrating in various ways for years prior to doing a specific type of written narration. We are also desiring for students to have much practice in open-ended written narrations prior to be asked to write a specific type of written narration.

Students can experiment with different kinds of written narrations in World Geography, which will help their oral narrations.

So, with all of this in mind, I would encourage your daughter to experiment with her written narrations in the World Geography guide. It is fine to try summary-style narrations and descriptive narrations. It is fine to narrate more fully upon one episode that struck her or to insert her opinions within the narrations. She can practice in learning to use transition sentences as well, as she tries to link the paragraphs in their narration together in a cohesive fashion.

These skills students hone as they try to figure out how to narrate in writing upon a variety of authors and styles is good practice for future learning. They will truly sift and sort and find what works for each book they encounter, but it takes time to find the pattern that works for each author. The skills are in the sifting and sorting and are also in borrowing some of the author’s style!

Students’ practice with different oral narrations makes the transition to different written narrations seamless.

To encourage you, I will share that I saw the fruit of all the different oral narrations in my own son. When he began the U.S. History I guide, he did not balk at writing the written narrations in a certain style each week. The oral narrations he had practiced for years earlier made the transition seamless. I could also see that his wheels were turning as to what type of narration would work best for each type of book. That son is now in college and just recently passed the CLEP test for English Composition quite easily!

So, these skills taught in World Geography on up are great life preparation and great college preparation too. They prepare kiddos to write at the drop of a hat in a variety of styles in response to all different types of authors. It is a very different education than the one that I received, but I have seen the benefits firsthand!

Blessings,

Carrie