Should I switch my kids from Easy Grammar to R & S English?

Dear Carrie

Should I switch my kids from Easy Grammar to R & S English?
I am a mom to nine. We’re getting ready to start our second year with Heart of Dakota (HOD)! Two are graduated already. My 18-year-old is doing U.S. History II, and my 16-year-old is doing World Geography. Our 14-year-old with learning delays is doing well in CTC. My 11-year-old with learning delays is enjoying Bigger Hearts with my 9-year-old. Our 6-year-old is beginning Little Hearts soon. My 2-year-old is our chief meddler adored by us all! This is our second year using HOD mostly only for history and science. For other subjects, we just continued using the resources we had already been using before finding HOD. As the year went by I began to realize that using the guides for more of the other subjects would greatly simplify things! So that leads me to my question… should I switch my kids from Easy Grammar to R & S English?
Helpful Background Info When Considering a Switch in Grammar
Easy Grammar doesn’t require much of my teaching time, and I have a lot of kids! However, I understand R & S teaches important additional writing skills. My 10-year-old will be moving into Preparing. She excels with grammar and spelling and language arts in general. I’m thinking Level 4 for her, if we switch from Easy Grammar. My 13-year-old struggles a lot with grammar. Easy Grammar is the first grammar course he has had some success with. But, he struggles with writing as well. This makes me wonder if he may benefit from making a switch. I have no idea what level he would be in… probably no higher than Level 4. However, he’ll be in Resurrection to Reformation and in 8th grade. If he uses Level 4 this year, what will I do for him next year when he is in high school?

My 15-year-old-son also struggles with language arts. (Both he and the 13-year-old deal with some dyslexia.) But, for some reason he really “gets” grammar and actually does pretty well with it. He used Missions to Modern Marvels last year for his freshman year. He’ll be using World Geography (WG) next year for 10th grade. As you know the WG  guide schedules R & S 7. However, I’m assuming that he should not start there, since he is new to R & S. How far back should he go? I’m concerned if he goes back too far, I won’t be able to give high school credit for it. Would it be better to just keep him moving in Easy Grammar? Sorry this is so long. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!


“Ms. Please Help Decide If I Should Switch to R & S English”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Decide If I Should Switch to R & S English,”

In looking at your precious teaching time and the amount of kiddos that you have in your household, I want to be fair in my advice to you. Honestly, using Rod and Staff for English may result in more teaching time for you. However, I have become such a believer in the way that English is approached in the Rod and Staff English books that I would venture to say that it is some of the best time spent in teaching.

R & S English truly ties together virtually all skills related to the English language.

This is because Rod and Staff is so much more than a grammar program. It is the whole English umbrella of skills (i.e. grammar, composition, outlining, notetaking, speaking, dictionary skills, using a thesaurus, poetry, prefixes, suffixes, etc.). It truly ties together all skills related to the English language. In doing so, it has a direct impact on how kiddos present themselves (both in spoken and written form). On top of that it is the most God-honoring text I have ever seen!

I would focus on switching my oldest child to R & S first.

With that being said, I think I would focus on switching my oldest child to Rod and Staff first. This will not be an easy transition, as Rod and Staff assignments require more work to complete. However, if you keep in mind that you are trying to do 2/3 of the assignment orally or on a whiteboard, with only one exercise to do on paper each day, it will go better. The reason I would start with your oldest child is because I think it is such a good program that all kiddos should have some of it prior to graduation. It truly will be of benefit to them lifelong no matter what their previous grammar experience has been.

I would start with half of R & S English 5 or 6.

I would start your oldest in either Rod and Staff English 5 or English 6. Do half this year and half next year. Don’t worry about the grammar being enough. When combined with the literature and composition in the high school guides it is one part of the overall credit. When you list it for your transcript, just list the title, not the level of the book.

I would consider combining your 10 and 13 year-olds in R &S English 4.

Next, depending on how the 10 and 13 year old would feel about being together, you could consider combining them in Rod and Staff English 4. If the combining is not a go, then I would keep your younger child in Easy Grammar and switch the 13-year-old to English 4. Again, do much of it orally or on a whiteboard, only writing one exercise on paper each day. Of course, you may wish to stay with Easy Grammar instead. It is definitely up to you the route to take with this. I did use Easy Grammar with my oldest son for only one year, and we did not find nearly the retention or carryover with that program that we have found with Rod and Staff, but your experience may vary.


Response from “Ms. Please Help Decide If I Should Switch to R & S English”

Carrie, thank you for understanding my situation. You’ve had so much going on lately. I want you to know I really appreciate that you took the time to give me such a thoughtful and empathetic answer to my question. Each of the skills you list here are ones that my kids do need to practice and grow in. I’m really liking your advice to switch my 15-year-old now, and add in the others as I can. Thank you so much for helping me come up with a plan that is doable in my real life! I’m hoping to be able to switch the others soon after we get into the swing of things with the 15-year-old.


“Ms. Please Help Decide If I Should Switch to R & S English”

Christmas is a time for family!

Teaching Tip: 

Christmas is a time for family, as we gather together to celebrate Christ’s birth.

At Christmas, it is easy to get consumed and overwhelmed with the busyness of the season. Working, homeschooling, and preparing for the holiday season can take a lot of energy. At our house, the joy of having a large, extended family means we get to celebrate Christmas for awhile! At times, it seems like we can hardly fit in everything. Our boys have 26 first cousins if that gives you any idea of how big our extended family is! Yet, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

A faith-filled family is a blessing from the Lord.

A large, faith-filled family is a blessing from the Lord. Family stands together when life is hard. We encourage one another when times are tough and celebrate when times are good. Family prays for one another and helps without expecting anything in return. A close, faith-filled family is a reflection of Christ’s love.

The church stands ready to be your faith-filled family.

Whether you have the gift of a close, faith-filled family or not, the church stands ready to fulfill that role. In this season of Christ’s birth, the church is a reflection of Christ’s love.

God is your gracious, loving Father.

Your Father in heaven is your gracious, loving Father. As such, He was willing to send His precious Son to earth to save you and me from eternal destruction. This Christmas, know that you are loved by the Creator of this world. As the angels announced the birth of His Son on earth, so you can sing in your Spirit knowing God sent His Son for you!

If you are a Christian, you are part of a heavenly family.

This Christmas season, know that you are part of a heavenly family. God, your Father, loves you. Jesus, His only Son, left the splendors of heaven to live among us. He chose to die for you and for me as payment for our sins. One day, we will join Him in heaven. You and I are linked with heaven.

Remember the meaning of Christ’s birth.

In the busyness of the season, remember the meaning of Christ’s birth. Remember why He came to earth, and what purpose He fulfilled. Then, join me in thanking God that you are a member of His family. There is no better family we can be part of and be given. Christmas is truly a time for family!

In Christ,


Brainstorming for a Large Family with Just Two Children in Mind

Dear Carrie

Brainstorming for a Large Family with Just Two Children in Mind

I’m a mom of 6 children. One is married with children of his own now! My 19 year-old son is in special education in high school. I use Heart of Dakota with the rest. My 12 and 14 yo are in Revival to Revolution.  My question is about my other two children. One is in Unit 13 of Bigger Hearts for His Glory. The other is in Unit 20 of Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.  So, it won’t be long until there are two in Bigger Hearts at different places, and then one in Preparing Hearts and one in Bigger. There is no way I can combine – I wouldn’t want to anyway. As we have a large family and these are somewhat teacher-intensive guides, I’d sure be interested in brainstorming about these two children. The rest – I have quite happily figured out. Thanks!

“Ms. Brainstorming for a Large Family with Just Two Children in Mind”

Dear “Ms. Brainstorming for a Large Family with Just Two Children in Mind,”

Brainstorming sounds like a great idea! As far as your situation goes, I would encourage you to choose one set of storytime books to read aloud to the Beyond/Bigger kiddos. I’d follow the plans for the younger guide, so you can keep this pattern going as they head into the next guide too. I would also work toward getting the kiddos who are the most ready to read from their guide to do so as soon and as much as they are able. This doesn’t always mean this will be the older child either!

Brainstorming About Reading: Whoever can read first, should!

Reading can take real time, so it’s worth brainstorming about! If your child eventually heading into Preparing is able to read his/her own history, I would encourage you to let that child do so. Or, perhaps your first Bigger student might be able to read the science (or possibly even the history). I did allow my second son to do this as he was ready in Bigger. My next little ones in Bigger could not do that though, so I read everything aloud to them.

Brainstorming About the Emerging Reader’s Set 

If you have a child in the Emerging Reader Set, I have one brainstorming tip. I find it oh-so-helpful to have that child practice his day’s pages alone first before coming to read to me. This allows the child time to peruse the pictures, figure out difficult words, and ruminate on the story. Then, by the time he/she comes to read to you the reading clips along more quickly. He/she can also answer the follow-up questions more easily. Plus, while the child is practicing on his/her own, you can work with someone else.

Brainstorming That Includes Recognizing Your Self-Starters 

If you have kiddos who are organized or self-starters, I have another brainstorming tip about them! Why not have them get out their own books and do the things they can do? My child in Bigger sang his own hymn in the morning (and we all loved hearing it fill the house). He also did his own copywork in the morning and got out his needed books by checking the guide. Of course, he didn’t do these things when beginning Bigger, but as he progressed further into the guide, he wanted to do more on his own! All of these are time savers and pay big dividends to the parent! Plus, the child is happy to be moving along rather than waiting on mama!

Brainstorming That Includes the Help of An Older Child

Here’s one more brainstorming tip! If you have an older child who is finished ahead of time and is waiting on you, have him/her jump in and help teach one box from a little one’s guide for 5-10 minutes. We do this at times with our older boys, and it helps keep things moving along (and helps me get to the older child faster).

Brainstorming That Takes Advantage of A Morning Recess Break

If you give your kiddos a morning recess break all together, here’s one more brainstorming tip. Why not use that time to check the older children’s work? This will help you make sure they are staying on track. It also keeps you on top of how the more independent kiddos are progressing (and saves derailment later in the day). Once the kiddos’ work is checked, have them clear those books away, as clutter is a joy-stealer! (At least it is for me!)

Brainstorming That Puts “Piles” to Good Use

Here’s a brainstorming tip we use that involved putting ‘piles’ to good use. We have our boys place their books/notebooks/completed work in their own pile on our kitchen counter next to our stove. Each child has his own space for his pile. That way, as time allows, we can check their work. Then, when we have checked it, we move it to the other side of the stove (in a pile). This way, the kiddos can see the work has been checked and put it away. Anything that has been corrected but needs attention, we don’t move to the other side (as a reminder for us to go back and help the child redo that subject). For our littles in the teacher-led younger guides, we check and put away as they go (not allowing them to put anything away until its been checked).

Brainstorming Ideas with the Family Working As a Team in Mind

Anyway, those are just some brainstorming ideas that may help or get you thinking of things that could help. I’m sure you already have discovered many of these things, and probably more that I haven’t listed. We try to think of our family as a team, where everyone must be willing to help one another out to get our day accomplished. If we have appointments or places to go, we will warn the kiddos the night before so they can plan accordingly and are not taken by surprise. Often, our olders might work ahead that evening or get up earlier in the morning then, so as not to be behind. We do not, however, let our littles get up any earlier on those days, as once they’re up the day is officially underway for us all.