How should I handle the English credit for MTMM for 9th grade?

Pondering Placement

Question: My daughter will do MTMM as a 9th grader. I have it all figured out, except how should I handle the English credit?

I’ve been mapping out my 12 year old’s progression through Heart of Dakota. She’s in Resurrection to Reformation now. I am confident using Missions to Modern Marvels for 9th grade, except for the English credit. My daughter reads on grade level, but she has to work extra hard to do so. Until this year, I have read all her history, science, and a read aloud to her, while she read mainly historical fiction novels to herself with questions. This year she is reading most of history herself, science by herself, and the DITHOR books herself! She has a hard time with step-by-step directions, which we are working on. She has been apathetic in the past, not caring and only doing j.u.s.t. what was required of her. I just wondered what my options for English credit for MTMM for 9th grade might be?  Thanks in advance!

Carrie’s Reply:

It sounds like your daughter is making good gains this year in RTR. Looking ahead to MTMM’s English credit, you have several good options. To earn English credit you would need to combine the Rod and Staff English level your student is doing (English 6 is scheduled in MTMM, but is very advanced so we typically use it for 8th graders), plus the composition scheduled in MTMM (which is Write with the Best II – and is definitely high school worthy), plus the literature you choose to do. If you desired to keep the guides intact coming up, you would do Drawn into the Heart of Reading for your literature portion. You could use either the level 7/8 book pack or choose harder selections of your own. Either would work for grade 9. Together the grammar/composition/literature would equal one English credit for grade 9.

Or, you could borrow the literature from the guide ahead for another option.

If you borrow the literature from the guide ahead, the only potential problem is you may at times need to borrow the full English credit. This would be to keep needed balance. For MTMM, you could either use the writing program as written and borrow just the literature from World Geography, or if the composition and grammar from World Geography seemed a better fit than the composition and grammar in MTMM, then you could borrow those from World Geography too.  The following year you would borrow the literature from World History. Depending on what you did for composition and grammar the previous year, we would then decide whether to also borrow the grammar and composition from World History or use what was scheduled in World Geography.

You will want to consider how much your daughter is used to reading on her own each day when you make this decision.

One thing that will make a difference in how you handle literature will be how well your student does in this area and whether she is used to reading quite a volume on her own each day. There is quite a difference in volume between what is read for Drawn into the Heart of Reading and what is read for literature in the World Geography guide.  There is also a difference in level of difficulty, vocabulary, and in the level of literary analysis. So, you have several good options for literature for high school English credit!  Either will be fine, so just choose the one that fits your daughter best!


Follow-Up Response from Poster…

Thanks for helping me think this part through! I had two main reasons for switching to HOD. I fearfully decided to switch after 7 years with another curriculum. One was because my girls became very passive in their learning with our previous curriculum/style and the. The second reason was their relationship with the Lord. At 7-1/2 weeks in, I will say that both of my older daughters are not as passive, and they are engaging with the material more with HOD’s teaching! I was skeptical when seeing people rave about HOD, but now that we’ve dipped our feet in, I have become one that raves. Even if it is silently to myself, I am elated with how this is working for us. In fact, the girls beg me to switch totally over to HOD (which we will next year in Rev to Rev). Surprisingly, it’s not because it’s easier. On the contrary, it is much more challenging than before. It leads me to believe that the reason they want more is because they are interested and engaged. Bravo!!

Switching from AO to 3 HOD Guides and AO or HOD Books for DITHOR/Storytime?

Dear Carrie

How can I best switch from AO to 3 HOD Guides? Should I try to use my AO Books for DITHOR and Storytime?

I’m switching from Ambleside Online to Heart of Dakota. I need something laid out for me and with more handholding. I’ll be doing 3 different HOD guides. I’ll be using Saxon math with my children, and I’m pretty sure that will add time to the day. I’m thinking of using my AO books for Storytime and DITHOR, but matching them could be cumbersome! So, how can I make my day with 3 guides flow smoothly? How can I – or should I – use my AO books for Storytime/DITHOR? Or should I use HOD books instead? I guess those are my questions for now! We’re very excited to start this curriculum, and my children are really looking forward to crafts and experiments!


“Ms. Please Help Me Switch from AO to 3 HOD Guides”

Dear “Ms. Help Me Switch from AO to 3 HOD Guides,”

I will share a few things that will make your year go much better! First, let me begin by having you read a previous post. In this post, I shared about my own journey with Ambleside Online with my oldest son. The reason I share this is because it will help you better understand the suggestions I am going to make. Simply click here and scroll down to read my post.

By substituting AO titles for Storytime, you’ll miss important connections to history.

Now that I’ve qualified my next comments, I’m going to suggest you not spend time matching Ambleside Online’s books to Storytime. Storytime HOD books were chosen specifically for the age and listening level of the HOD guide. They were also chosen to add a needed element to the history study done at that time in the guide. Often Storytime books are scheduled to add another point of view or differing perspective. Or, they may be scheduled to bring to life a little known aspect of the time period that is needed to better understand it. Or, they may be chosen to bring forth a spiritual awareness of the time period and to bring the listener closer to the Lord, sharing ways of dealing with trials and tribulations in a God-honoring way. By substituting other titles, you’ll miss important connections that will bring your study of history to life!

Heart of Dakota books were specifically chosen to fulfill a special purpose within the curriculum.

I have one question for you to weigh before substituting an AO book. It is whether the book list from Ambleside Online is so exceptional that it needs to be substituted in place of HOD books that were specifically chosen to fulfill a special purpose for each part of the HOD curriculum. This is an important question! While I do feel that some of the AO books were very good (and we do use those books along the way within our curriculum), I was less sure of the stellar qualities of some of the other books we read through AO. Keep in mind that only some of the books on the AO list were actually ones selected by Charlotte Mason. Additionally, it’s good to note that Charlotte Mason did not have access to the wealth of reading material that we have available today.

Heart of Dakota is a mix of the old and the new! I spent much time sifting and sorting to find a good balance.

I do know from what I’ve read that Charlotte Mason spent extensive time choosing books each year for her students to read. That was where her focus always was! I think she might be surprised to discover that we aren’t using some of the newer wonderful book selections and instead are simply continuing to pick off of her older book lists! What we schedule within HOD books are a mix of the old and the new. We spend much time on the book selection process, sifting and sorting to find the very best mix. The emphasis is always on the books. If you try what we have scheduled I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

AO’s book selections require more time to process because they are consistently very difficult.

Through my years with AO, I found that the book selections were consistently very difficult. They required much time to process. While that was fine when doing only a few books each year as AO had scheduled, by the time we add in the volume and richness of the HOD program, to add an AO book on top of it would be expecting way too much. To do that would be replacing a book that was meant to function in one way with a book that was meant to function a different way in a different curriculum.

The less substituting you do, the more the program will function the way it was designed.

You will discover as you do HOD (and probably did discover as you did AO) that both of our guides are so much more than just a book list. They are a philosophy or a way of learning. While within AO, each book has a specific place and a specific purpose, the same is true within HOD. This means that the less substituting you do, the more the program will function the way it was designed. This makes for less stress and more enjoyment all the way around.

With DITHR, we are having the child think critically about the story, and if the reading is really difficult as well, the lessons become too hard too fast.

While you could use some of the free reads from AO with DITHR, I wouldn’t be very quick to plug too many of those titles into DITHR either. The books on the free reading list for AO are very advanced and often are scheduled way too young, in my opinion. Yes, the child may be able to read a book like that at the age suggested, but how much richer would his/her experience be with the book if he waited until he was a bit older?

Also, keep in mind that with DITHR we are having the child really think critically about the story and draw out connections and themes. This is not easy to do and if on top of that a really difficult book is added to read at the same time, the lessons will become too hard too fast. When using DITHR at first, it is better to error on the side of the book being too easy, rather than too hard, simply because of the extra mental work required to complete the DITHR exercises!

Some AO books are wonderful and are included in DITHR packs, but others have some issues.

Some of the AO books are wonderful, and as such we have included them within our DITHR packs already. But others on the AO list have issues, which we discovered as my older son was reading them. I found that simply being on the AO list did not guarantee that a book was great. It did not mean I could hand the book to my child without pre-reading! While you may potentially have some issues with HOD books as well, we make every effort within our guides to warn you of those upcoming issues. We hope to leave you with less or no pre-reading to do. I think you will also find that the balance of HOD books within our DITHR packs help your year with DITHR flow better, as the books are chosen to create an ebb and flow as to difficulty, length, and content throughout the year.

So, I’d encourage you to do HOD if you’ve decided to do HOD!

So, I would encourage you that if you have decided to do HOD, to do HOD. Try your best to stick with the suggestions and the scheduling we make. Make good use of your AO books for free-reading or family read aloud time, but don’t spend tons of time trying to plug them into an HOD guide.

I’d highly recommend sticking with the plans the way they are written as much as possible.

As far as teaching the guide goes, I would highly recommend sticking with the plans as close to the way they are written as possible. Routinely shifting boxes to other days or making a schedule that takes the plans apart will quickly result in losing both the flow and the ease of use of the guide. When we talk to families who have left HOD and then returned, they always share that they did too much substituting and too much moving of boxes and randomly moving through the guide. This seems to be a pitfall for those who aren’t successful with HOD. When families return, they often share with us their goal to stick much closer to the plans.

I suggest trying hard to complete a day of plans within a day to keep connections strong.

So, I suggest trying hard to complete a day of plans within a day. If you do have to slow down, split one day of plans over two days as needed. I’ve had to do this for seasons myself! But try not to move boxes from various parts of the plans to an extra day at the end. Each day is specifically written to make connections among the boxes of plans on that day. Moving boxes means the connections fall apart and the plans begin to feel random and fall apart too.

Teaching multiple guides is harder to do when you add or substitute resources, as precious teaching time is lost.

You can do 3 guides, as we have done 4 at our house for years. But, I have to honestly say I couldn’t have done 4 guides if I had done many of the things being pondered here. This is because adding and substituting resources takes time to plan, which often results in precious teaching time lost. It also means that no one can just open their guide and go for the day (including you). Moving boxes to different days takes time to plan and manage, and again now no one can just open their guide and know what to do today. It also makes the program feel random as the connections are lost. Adding a time intensive math program for multiple students will really add time to your day.

I would recommend using Singapore Math with your youngers if at all possible.

With this in mind, I would look carefully to see if any of your kiddos could benefit from Singapore math. It is easier to start a child in Singapore math when they are younger. Perhaps, you could do Singapore with your younger kiddos and just do Saxon with your older child or children. These are all things to consider, to keep your day manageable and your teaching time in line.

We do have many families using HOD successfully with different math or grammar programs; just bear in mind the time these changes add to your day.

Of course, you may feel differently and as the teacher you will need to make your own decisions. We do have many families successfully use HOD with a different math or grammar program. We do have families select their own books for DITHR and thrive with the program. You’ll just need to bear in mind how much time each of these changes are adding to your day or whether the substitutions are making your day go very long.

I want you to have every opportunity to enjoy HOD, so hopefully these thoughts will be a help to you!

I pray these thoughts will be of use to you as you ponder what is best for your family. I’ve learned the things I am sharing with you the hard way, in the trenches from years in the classroom and years schooling my own kiddos with HOD. I just want you to have every opportunity to enjoy HOD with your kiddos and not get overwhelmed.




Start Strong for an Easier Finish

From Our House to Yours

Start Strong for an Easier Finish

Heart of Dakota‘s guides are what we call ‘front-loaded.’ At the start of each guide, there is a combination of skills to maintain, skills to improve upon, and new skills to learn. These skills will be worked and improved upon the whole homeschool year. Whenever we begin a new HOD guide, I know how important it is to start strong. This is fairly easy, as at the start of a new year we are all excited to begin! A new guide, new books, new skills – they are exciting! So, we dive in and work hard to start strong.

Following the guide as it is written gives a strong start!

My children look at their new HOD guide as their road map for the year. They know we will follow the guide as it is written, so they can visualize their final destination. Within each 2-page daily plans and within each week, they can see what their goals for the year will be. Success is in their reach and in mine’s because what equals success is clear to all! This is empowering. Following the guide as it is written gives everyone common goals, and they are attainable.

Heart of Dakota is special because you can follow the guide ‘as written’ while still customizing it to fit your child individually!

What is special about HOD is you can follow a guide ‘as written’ while still customizing it to fit your child! For example, written narrations have sentence ranges. So when following Preparing Heart‘s guide for written narrations, the plans call for a 1-3 sentence narration. A child not as strong in writing can still complete the plans ‘as written’ by doing 1 good short sentence. Likewise, a child who is strong in writing can still complete the plans ‘as written’ by doing 3 detailed sentences. In Resurrection to Reformation, the child who is not as strong in ‘research’ can complete the plans ‘as written’ by answering just 2-3 of the suggested guided questions. Likewise, a child who is strong in research skills can complete the plans ‘as written’ by answering all 7-8 provided questions. So following the guide ‘as written’ in HOD still has flexibility!

Tweaking or skipping plans weakens a strong start and makes an easier finish difficult.

Heart of Dakota’s guides are skill-based, so each year becomes more difficult. This is good! It is what prepares K-2nd grade children for the increased rigor of 3rd to 5th grade. In turn, 3rd to 5th grade children are prepared for the increased rigor of 6th to 8th grade, and 6th to 8th grade children for the increased rigor of high school. This is why tweaking the plans weakens a strong start and makes an easier finish difficult. For example, if a child in Bigger Hearts skips the 1-3 vocabulary cards assignment at the start, he will have a very hard time adding the 1 card by the end, and he’ll probably never get to 2-3 cards. A child who starts strong by attempting 1 card will at the very least be doing 1 extremely good card by the end, if not 3.

I am in the ‘easier finish’ stage right now due to a strong start!

Today I woke up to find Emmett ready for a strong start. During our first meeting time, he had his Bible Quiet Time Hidden Treasures ready for me to correct. He recited his last few verses he’d memorized and let me know he’d already sang and prayed. He’d listened to his What in the World? CD and shared a few things he enjoyed. Next, we corrected his science answers for Exploring Planet Earth. These are all “I” independent boxes in RTR and because we had a strong start, he did them all right. Next, we enjoyed having a leisurely happy poetry lesson together and finished up with dictation, as he knew from a strong start, these were not things he could do on his own. The day continued with him doing his written narration and completing his Shakespeare study independently.

Starting strong continues to make the finish easier!

The next time I met with Emmett, we checked his narration and Shakespeare study. We did his math lesson and cuddled up with his Storytime book. He finished his “plot twists” card on his own and began reading his grammar while I worked with his older brother. We then orally began his grammar. The phone rang, and when I returned he had chosen 1 section to write from grammar and left it out for me to correct. I found him in the living room, cuddled up reading his DITHOR book because that was next. We discussed his DITHOR Student Book assignment, as well as his Medieval History-Based writing assignment. I went to make lunch. By the time lunch was made, Emmett was done with his DITHOR and writing, and all we had to do was correct and edit these together.

If you are having a harder finish, consider focusing on a stronger start next year by using HOD more ‘as written.’

My children are not perfect, nor am I. What we do have is an understanding of common goals that are consistent. That too, has little to do with me, and everything to do with simply enjoying the beauty of using HOD guides as written. At the beginning of the year, we make a point to have a strong start. As we move through our front-loaded HOD guides, we all get better and better at them. By the end, our days are easier. We reap the harvest of our strong start with an easier finish, which is good, because we are all getting ready for a break. Longer days at the beginning equal shorter easier days at the finish, which is when we need it most. If you are having a harder finish, consider focusing on a stronger start next year by using HOD more ‘as written.’

In Christ,


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,



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?


“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.


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.


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