Is it normal for parental involvement to lessen in Creation to Christ?

Dear Carrie

Is it normal for my level of parental involvement to lessen in Creation to Christ?

Dear Carrie,

I have 2 children doing Creation to Christ. I’m blessed Heart of Dakota has taught them independence! They are wonderful at using the guide and finishing their work. Praise God! I answer questions, check work, and lead the teacher-directed things. But, I find it’s different this year. In the younger years, I read aloud all of the books. Now, I spend more time with my 7 yo in Bigger, my 5 yo in LHFHG, and my 3 yo. I feel like it’s impossible to be much more involved than I am! I’d love to have time to sit and read the CTC books with the olders, but I just can’t! I guess I need either encouragement or constructive criticism! Is it normal for my level of involvement to change in Creation to Christ?


“Ms. Please Help Me Know If It Is Normal for My Level of Involvement to Change in Creation to Christ”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Know If It Is Normal for My Level of Involvement to Change in Creation to Christ,”

This is a great question! Whenever we write an HOD guide, we strive for balance. We especially find it important for us to have a balance of “Teacher-Directed,” “Semi-Independent,” and “Independent” activities. While we may have more ‘I’s in a guide, that doesn’t necessarily mean we spend more time on “I” activities. It just means that we often keep the ‘I’ activities shorter. We do this in order for them to be truly independent (so it takes more ‘I’ activities to equal out the minutes spent on ‘T’ and ‘S’ activities).

We systematically move skills we have taught toward being independent.

As kiddos progress through our guides, we systematically move skills we have taught toward being ‘Independent.’  This allows us to teach and practice new skills in each guide. With this thought in mind, once kiddos are able to read their own history and science material, we desire for them to be doing the reading. This aids in better retention, produces stronger written and oral narrations, increases a child’s vocabulary as they see and read difficult words in print, and gives the child a chance to pace the reading as needed to suit his/her specific reading level. We do keep storytime as an area where the parent can cuddle up with the child to share great books, and we tie follow-up skills to the readings.

Older children benefit from reading on their own, and teaching time is precious, so we choose teaching tasks carefully.

As homeschool parents, we likely have limited time each day to formally “teach” our children. If we choose to utilize that precious teaching time with our older children to read aloud material that the children would benefit from reading on their own, then we draw from our well of teaching time by doing a task like reading aloud that isn’t really a teaching task. We want to be sure that any task we choose for the teacher to do is truly a teaching task.

Allowing older children to read their own material frees up time to teach important things that otherwise could be missed.

By allowing the children to read their own material, we free up time to teach important things that may otherwise be missed. We can interact with our students in studies like the Genesis study in The Radical Book for Kids, or purity studies like Beautiful Girlhood or Boyhood and Beyond, or in Biblical worldview studies through Who Is God?. Likewise, we can enjoy working  through poetry, art, and music appreciation. Additionally, we can spend time teaching writing programs, interacting with grammar lessons, hearing narrations, and dialoguing as the students show us their notebooking. We can focus on interaction with the student that goes far beyond reading aloud.

Our guides incrementally prepare students for the level of independence needed in high school and college.

The design of our guides is also intended to prepare students incrementally for the level of independence that will be needed in high school and college. We teach a high level of reading and following written directions through the ‘I’ boxes of each HOD guide. Students also need time management skills to complete the boxes independently. The students learn these skills, yet parents always have a follow-up or a product that is produced, so they can monitor students’ progress in every subject area. Students love to move toward taking on more of their own learning as they get older, and our guides tap into that God-given path toward maturity by giving the child a bit more responsibility each year.

We are seeking for meaningful interaction moments in every teaching day.

We have truly enjoyed the interactions we have with our children at each level of our HOD guides. I must admit that my 3 youngest kiddos using HOD have had many more opportunities for interaction with me than my oldest son had. This is because we had previously tried so many of the various curricula out there on his homeschool journey. At HOD, we are seeking for “meaningful interaction” moments in every teaching day. We plan for them in each of our guides. So, rest assured, you can know teaching time is there for you each and every day.



Is your child new to independence in school?

Teaching Tip: 

Is your child new to independence in school?

Do you have a child doing Preparing Hearts or Creation to Christ on up who is new to “independence” in school? If so, here is a helpful tip for you! Have your child read the instructions in any “I” box out loud to you prior to beginning the box.

Why is it helpful to have students read aloud the directions in the “independent” boxes of plans?

When kiddos read aloud the directions first, they often have a better idea of what is coming. This makes them less likely to miss steps when performing the “I” box. It can take extra time to have the child read aloud the box first. But, it will save you time later, because the child will know more clearly what to do. If needed, you can also discuss the directions right after the child has read them aloud.

When can you phase out this “reading aloud” step?

The reading aloud step can be phased out as the child gains confidence in reading and following written directions. It helps “train” the child to read the directions through before beginning the box. Try this tip and see if it helps your child! This extra step has really helped our boys!


Bigger Hearts for His Glory – Our Gateway to Independent Learning!

Heart of Dakota Tidbit

Bigger Hearts for His Glory – Our Gateway to Independent Learning!

Did you know that “Bigger Hearts for His Glory” (written for ages 7-9 with extensions for 10-11) is considered our most teacher intensive guide? This guide is designed to prepare your child for the independence that is coming in the future guides. Your teaching time will start to lessen with each subsequent guide so that you can spend your time with your younger children teaching them the habits that will lead to their independent learning.

Have a great weekend!

Second or Third Grade with Heart of Dakota – Bigger Hearts for His Glory

Are you having your child work toward the suggested level of independence in Heart of Dakota?

Parent and Student Roles in Homeschooling Work with Heart of Dakota

From Our House to Yours

What are the roles of the parent and the student in homeschooling with Heart of Dakota?

Roles of the parent and student vary based on the student’s age, the assignment, and the guide.  Little Hands to Heaven through Bigger Hearts for His Glory have younger target age ranges of 2-9 years old.  In these guides, much of the work is teacher-directed or semi-independent.  Starting with Preparing Hearts for His Glory through U.S. History II, assignments are designated as “T,” “S,” or “I.” This helps facilitate the progression of skills, so students successfully take on independent work.  Gradually, from year to year, from guide to guide, students are preparing first for middle school work.  Then, they are preparing for high school level work.  Finally, they are preparing for college level work, should they so desire to go.

As they grow and mature, their role changes, and so does ours as their teacher.  Charlotte Mason was an advocate of having students take on independence as soon as they were able.  Heart of Dakota helps make this transition easier by planning for it in each guide.  So, my focus of this From Our House to Yours is to show how HOD’s guides are designed to help parents and students with changing roles.

Why are the letters “T,” “S,”, and “I” part of the boxes in Heart of Dakota’s plans?

Parents and children can easily see what needs to be done each day in Heart of Dakota’s guides. Two-page plans with boxes for each part of the plans make it clear what needs to be accomplished daily. As students mature, HOD guides switch to a 4-day a week format. Boxes of plans begin to note whether assignments are intended to be “T” teacher-directed, “S” semi-independent, or “I” independent. This helps kiddos learn to take on independence gradually and successfully. Skills that were teacher-directed in one guide, move to be semi-independent in the next guide. Likewise, skills that were semi-independent in one guide, move to be more independent in the next guide.

How do the plans being designated as “T,” “S,” or “I” work help both parents and students?

The plans in HOD’s guides make it clear what each person’s role is in each assignment. So, the teacher is doing the reading and the leading for the “T” boxes. The student is doing the reading and the following of directions for the “I” boxes. Finally, the teacher and student share the tasks in the “S” boxes. I’ve found the “T” boxes to be such a help to me for my son who wants to do everything independently. For him, it is a good thing we have planned teacher-directed tasks, or he would do it all without me! In contrast, I’ve found the “I” boxes to be a help to me for my son who wants to do everything with me. For him it is a good thing we have planned independent work, or he wouldn’t do anything without me!

So, what is an example of parent and student roles in Creation to Christ?

In Creation to Christ, the parent still does the reading for the Storytime part of the plans. I chose the History Interest Set, and it has been amazing!  So far, my favorite book has been Traveling the Way.  This little gem of a book was probably one I would have passed on, if I’d only glanced at the cover.  It just goes to show, you truly cannot judge a book by its cover!  Anyway, we thoroughly enjoy this time together! My role is to read aloud the history interest book, and Emmett’s role is to listen carefully to the reading.  After the reading, students move through the following rotation of follow-up skills in the plans…

  • give a detailed oral narration
  • rotate through the following 4 narration activities: an outline sketch, a short skit, a question and answer session, and an advertisement speech for the book
  • give a summary narration
  • make connections between the story and Proverbs
What is an example of parent and student roles in World Geography?

In World Geography, we both read Bob Schultz’s Practical Happiness on our own.  We annotate separately, using different colored pens/pencils.  Then, we meet to discuss the reading and our annotations.  I love this time together!  We have discussed so many timely subjects for a young teenage boy.  My role as a parent is no longer to simply read aloud, but to help my son grow and develop into a strong Christian man.  Pretty important roles for both of us!  We enjoy sharing our opinions about the devotion, and we have drawn so close to one another because of it.  It is easy to talk about our faith in the Lord because of this time together.  I’m so glad for these roles this year for both of us!

Finally, what is an example of parent and student roles in U.S. History II?

In U.S. History II, Wyatt watches Dave Ramsey’s DVD on personal finance, answering questions as he watches.  We meet together to discuss his answers and journal questions.  My role is to share our family’s approach to spending, to saving, and to budgeting.  I’ve shown him our monthly budget, as well as our checking and savings account.  We’ve talked about how we set aside money each month for special things.  We put homeschooling, new furniture, vacations, clothing, Christmas, birthdays, etc., in the category of being ‘special.’  Together we budget money for these special things ahead of time. Often times, we must work extra hours to save money for them as well.  My role is to help my son develop his own budget, linking his earnings to his spending and saving.  What an important role for each of us!

Changing roles for parent and student keep homeschooling fresh and exciting!

In conclusion, our roles as parents and students are ever changing as students mature.  This is a necessary part of helping our children grow into responsible adults.  The ‘T,’ ‘S,’ and ‘I’ part of the daily plans help both parents and students be successful with changing roles.  This is one thing I have truly loved about using Heart of Dakota!  From PreK through 12th grade, my role as a parent always bring fresh, new and exciting things to my day!

Likewise, my children look forward to the changes in their role as  students from year to year.  They value the independence they are able to take on, the say-so they are able to have, and the opinions they are able to express.  They also value the time with me, as we are meeting for important reasons.  Most of all, we both value the progress made – the encouragement and celebration that comes from children becoming successful young adults.  What a privilege to be a part of!

Riley’s 15 Year Old Birthday Breakfast  Celebrating Another Year of Growth

In Christ,


P.S. To read more about encouraging your students to do the independent part of the plans on their own, click here!

Making Bigger Hearts More Independent for a 5th Grade Homeschool Student

Dear Carrie,

We are finishing Unit 3 of Bigger Hearts…, and we are really enjoying it! The only issue I’m having is I’m doing it with a 5th grader.  I feel I need to make Bigger Hearts more independent for my 5th grader, who needs more independent work. My son would fit perfectly into Preparing Hearts…, but we really wanted to do a year of American History. The more I look at it, the more I really think I should have chosen Preparing Hearts… for my son. I looked at the placement chart, scope and sequence, etc. However, I focused focused so much on American History that I never really paid attention to those like I should have.

The only areas he really doesn’t place in Preparing… for are Poetry, Math, and Reading. Should I just save Bigger for my younger son next year and do Preparing for my older son? I’m really starting to think that may be best. I want his Science and History to be at his level. I know the extensions bring it up to level some, but I need him working more independently. How can I make Bigger Hearts… more independent for my 5th grader, or should I have him do Preparing Hearts…?


“Please Help Me Make Bigger Hearts More Independent”

Dear “Please Help Me Make Bigger Hearts More Independent,”

When we did Bigger Hearts with our son, we looked at it as a year of training. We taught him to read from the guide and to do his own readings. This really helped my son be quite independent and was excellent preparation for learning how to follow written directions!

Charlotte Mason says a child of 9, who is able, should read his/her own books.

I had him do his own history readings and science readings. Charlotte Mason says a child of 9 who is able to read his/her own books should, and mine could. He would get me when he was done reading, and we would do the follow-up activity together. However, before getting me, he read the directions for the activity in the bottom left box. Additionally, he was responsible for getting everything ready for me as best as possible. So, by the time I arrived, we were ready to go!

The timeline, art, note booking, vocabulary, and Bible copywork can be done independently.

He did his timeline, art, notebooking, Cheerful Cursive, and vocabulary (eventually) on his own, reading right from the guide. I just checked them when he was done. He practiced his Bible verse on his own and did his Bible verse copywork on his own. My son also read over any questions in the Bible study box. Likewise, he thought about the answers prior to me coming to discuss with him. Then, we did the Bible Study discussion. We listened to the hymns at lunch with all of the kiddos and me singing along.

English and Math can be semi-independently done.

My son read over his English lesson and started on it by the time I joined him. We always did at least half together though, to make sure that he got it. He began his math on his own, and I’d go over the textbook lesson with him after he’d read it.

Drawn into the Heart of Reading needs to be more teacher-directed.

I did formally set aside a specific time each day to teach Drawn into the Heart of Reading. This is because DITHOR is such an important area to cover well! When kiddos learn to think beneath the surface of what is read and learn to read with discernment, two important skills are learned.

Students can do the science quite independently, with the teacher just making sure to go through assigned follow-ups.

My son honestly did the science completely independently. I checked in with him to make sure he did his lab sheets correctly and performed the experiment correctly. I did listen to his oral narrations with the science book in hand. Sometimes, he narrated to a younger sibling (with me looking over his shoulder).

Fifth graders should do the Extension Package readings and assignments independently.

The Extension Pack readings are meant to be done independently. From what you’ve shared previously, I agree having him work on his writing and spelling skills this year is important. The level of writing in Preparing Hearts continues to rise. Placement in Preparing is based on the skills noted in the first page of the placement chart. You can see these skills include a good dose of writing and spelling. Without those skills in place, moving into Preparing would only suit him in the area of reading material. The practice of core skills needed for good writing may be lost in the shuffle.

Adding independence to Bigger Hearts seems to make it a good placement for your 5th grade son.

These are just my thoughts, and you will certainly know best! However, I wanted to give you some food for thought on the many needed skills woven within Bigger Hearts. With our son who was older when he completed Bigger Hearts…, the independence I’ve mentioned worked well. When he began, Preparing Hearts…, he was ready!