Should I start Little Hands if my son doesn’t comprehend its Bible well?

Dear Carrie

Should I begin Little Hands to Heaven if my son doesn’t seem ready to comprehend the children’s Bible in it well?

I lurk on the Heart of Dakota Message Board! I’ve gotten a lot of great insight there! My daughter is using Little Hearts, and she also used Little Hands, which we loved. My question is about my son. He’s 4, and he knows all his letters, sounds, shapes, etc. However, he struggles with listening. I haven’t started Little Hands (LHTH) for this very reason. I tried out the Bible from LHTH for his evening devotions. He really struggled to answer any questions after the reading. I think it is partly a disciplinary issue as well. After all, he can sit and listen attentively to a Thomas the Train book! I’d like to get him started in LHTH, but I’m concerned about his (lack of) listening and comprehension. So, should I begin Little Hands to Heaven if my son doesn’t seem ready to comprehend the children’s Bible in it well?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Choose When to Start Little Hands”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Choose When to Start Little Hands,”

I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed Heart of Dakota with your daughter and will now begin it with your son! I just want to encourage you that it isn’t uncommon for young boys to struggle a bit with listening to Bible stories at first. This is because Bible stories have a harder vocabulary, have a much less predictable storyline, and do not have as many repetitive words or characters as stories like Thomas the Tank Engine do. So, listening to a Bible story is actually an exercise in higher level listening for a little child.

Comprehension can be influenced by the time of day.

How well a child comprehends a Bible story reading will also differ depending on what time of day the little one is asked to listen to the story. By bedtime, little ones are often weary, both physically and mentally. So, trying to process something new at that time is more work. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read aloud Bible stories at bedtime. It just means that we can expect less comprehension at that time of day as opposed to when the child is fresher, earlier in the day.

Children develop the skills to listen to Bible stories, which are more difficult read alouds, in LHTH.

Listening to more difficult read alouds, like Bible stories, is a skill that takes time to develop. The beauty of LHTH is that you will actually be able to see this skill develop as you travel through the guide. Since your son is 4, I’d lean toward starting LHTH, doing it 4 days a week. At age 4, he would likely be able to handle a day of LHTH in a day, since it takes 30 minutes or less.

Children may struggle for awhile, but soon they begin to answer the Bible questions better and better.

You can expect that he will struggle to answer the questions from the Bible stories for awhile (and this is not exclusive to little boys)! My sisters and I were talking awhile back about how surprising it was when our little ones finally began to answer some of the Bible questions in LHTH (and my older sister has little girls).

You can reread the line of the story with the answer to help your child answer the question if need be.

Until your little one is able to answer the questions, after asking the question if no answer is forthcoming, you could reread the line of the story with the answer in it to help prod your little one. Then, if the answer still isn’t coming, just tell the answer in a questioning type way. For example, if the question is, “Who did Abraham marry?”, and if your little one doesn’t know, reread the line of the story that says the answer. If your little one still can’t answer, then say, “Did Abraham marry Sarah?” In this way, the child can still answer, “Yes” at least (giving the guise of answering the question).

I hope you enjoy Little Hands to Heaven with your son as much as we did with each of our sons!

Blessings,

Carrie

Try the repeating method for “Rhymes in Motion”

Teaching Tip:

Do you have a child doing Little Hands to Heaven or Little Hearts for His Glory?

If you have kiddos doing either Little Hands to Heaven or Little Hearts for His Glory, today’s teaching tip is for you! It’s a simple tip, but one that makes the “Rhymes in Motion” go more smoothly with your little ones!

What is one helpful tip when you begin a new “Rhymes in Motion?”

Here is one helpful tip for beginning a new “Rhymes in Motion.” Say the rhyme and do the motions one line at a time, with your child repeating each line right after you.

What does the repeating method look like on Day 1 of the rhyme?

For example, on Day 1 of the rhyme, you will say and perform line one of the rhyme. Then, your child will repeat line one with the motions. Next, you will move on to line two, saying and demonstrating the line. Then, your child will repeat line two with the motions. Continue on through the rhyme this way to make sure your child is getting the words and motions.

How does the repeating method differ on Day 2?

At our house, we usually continue to use the repeating method on the second day too. However, at the end of the rhyme on day two, we also do the whole rhyme once more in unison.

What are the benefits of doing the rhymes this way?

Usually after two days of repeating each line after you, kiddos are more sure of the words and motions. Then, they are ready to do the rhyme in unison with you in the coming days. The repeating method is also great for making sure your child is participating and has the words down! Try this method at the beginning of a new rhyme and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: For more information on how “Rhymes in Motion” help kids’ skills develop, check out this blog article here:

What are the benefits of the Rhymes in Motion?

A defined space helps your little ones listen better.

Teaching Tip 

A defined space helps your little ones listen better.

Do you have little ones with whom you’re doing school? If so, it really helps to define the space in which they need to sit and listen while you read.

What is a simple defined space for a 2-4 year old?

When my little ones were between the ages of 2-4, I usually had them sit on my lap.  Then, I held the Bible in front of us to read the story for Little Hands to Heaven. If you have a child who is a “wild wiggler” and doesn’t sit well on your lap, then move on to my next suggestion!

What can you use as a defined space if you have a “wild wiggler” or multiple little ones?

If you have a “wild wiggler” or multiple little ones, use carpet pieces or large, foam floor puzzle squares to define space instead.  These pieces or squares can be used to delineate the spot where each child should sit.  This becomes the defined space in which your child needs to remain during the Little Hand’s Bible reading. As you read, hold the book up beside you with the pictures facing your child.  Read from the side, so you can show the pictures as you read.

What is a simple defined space for a 5-6 year old?

For my Little Hearts for His Glory kiddos, I move to sitting on the couch.  I “anchor” my child beside me with my arm around him/her while I read. If you have two kiddos doing Little Hearts, it works well to anchor one child on either side of you!

Try defining your child’s space today, and see if your reading time goes better.

While these sound like simple suggestions, having defined boundaries for your child during reading time can make a big difference! Try it today, and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

Reading the guide’s “Introduction” is great preparation for the school year

Teaching Tip

Reading the guide’s “Introduction” is great preparation for the school year.

You may be beginning to turn your thoughts toward school. One of the best ways to prepare for the upcoming year is to read through your HOD guide’s “Introduction.” There is such a wealth of information in the “Introduction” that we should truly title it something else!

How does reading the “Introduction” help prepare you for the year?

The “Introduction” will give you a feel for how each area is handled in the guide and the goals for each subject. It will let you know what notebooks, binders, etc. are needed for each subject area. Reading the “Introduction” provides a great summary of what to expect for the coming year. The “Introduction” is the last part of the guide we write. In this way, we can be sure that it truly summarizes needed information for you in one place!

If you have students in different HOD guides, read only one guide’s “Introduction” each day.

If you will be teaching more than one Heart of Dakota guide, read the “Introduction” for different guides on different days. This will help you focus on one guide at a time and will keep you from getting overwhelmed.

Can you use the guide without reading the “Introduction?”

Of course you can skip reading the “Introduction” and just jump right in and teach. However, often when families do this they miss the big picture of the guide. They also miss out on some gems that are referred to in the “Introduction” and included in the Appendix.

So, let’s get started!

After more than 15 years of homeschooling my boys with HOD, I still read the “Introduction” at the start of my school year! So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, cuddle up with your highlighter, and read away. Just reading the “Introduction” will make you feel more prepared!

Blessings,
Carrie

Top Ten Tips for Teaching Multiple Guides

Preschool with Heart of Dakota: Complete, Christian, Short, and Fun

From Our House to Yours

Little Hands to Heaven – a great preschool whether you’re just starting out or finishing strong!

Preschool with Heart of Dakota’s   Little Hands to Heaven is complete, Christian, short, and fun.  What could be better for this exciting time?!? Our little ones are full of life and energy, and they are raring to go!  As homeschool moms, we may be at the start of our homeschooling and raring to go too, dreaming about homeschooling our first precious blessing from God.

Or, we may be somewhere in the middle of our homeschooling. Realistically, multiple children with many needs can lessen the excitement of beginning to homeschool another little one.  It can be tempting to always focus on the oldest, who is forever entering new and exciting stages.  Especially if our own education was less than satisfying (which let’s face it, for most of us homeschool moms, it probably was).  We begin to love learning alongside our oldest child, and beginning to teach another little one can become, well, less exciting. In short, though we love each little blessing the same with all of our mama’s heart, we may be weary.

Well, wherever you are in your homeschool journey, if you have a preschool aged child, I want to encourage you! Little Hands to Heaven for preschool truly is a doable blessing. Each week I’d like to focus on a new guide in this blog series. So, let’s start with preschool first, and each week, let’s ‘grow up’ a guide at a time together!

Letter Activity Fun
Do you long for something more meaningful than just letters… letters… letters… numbers… numbers… numbers… for PreK?

Everything you want your preschool to include is already a part of Little Hands to Heaven!  I like it because it reminds me of a mini-kindergarten.  Many other preschool programs only focus on letters and numbers… the whole year.  Don’t get me wrong!  Letter recognition, letter formation, letter sounds, and early math skills ARE important, and they are a part of Little Hands.  However, that can get a little dry day after day, for both you and your little one. In contrast, Little Hands… adds pizazz with a mini-version of Kindergarten subjects like history, art, Bible, devotions, and music.

Bible Activity Connection

Furthermore, Little Hands… has history – BIBLE history!  What can be better than that?  It’s Christian. It’s chronological. Moreover, it’s inspiring.  Finally, it’s planting seeds that are hopefully sown upon fertile ground.  It keeps Christ front and center from the start, and the Bible history theme each week connects all the skills being taught.  Pretty memorable!  Which is exactly what we want for our little ones.  Skills meets retention meets the Lord.  A winning combination!  Not to mention, all the get-up-and-move parts of the plans! Dramatic plays, active exploration, fingerplays, art projects – your little one needs to move, and Little Hands… has that covered!

Dramatic Play
Okay, so to recap, let’s check out Little Hand’s… complete line-up below:
  • letter recognition, letter formation, letter sounds and motions
  • early math skills
  • Bible history and activities
  • devotional topics
  • art projects
  • dramatic plays
  • active exploration (science/health topics)
  • fingerplays
  • music
Fine Motor Skills and Letter Review
So, now you may be wondering, with all these great skills, will you have the time to teach Little Hands…? 

The answer is definitely ‘yes!’ No matter what stage of life you are in! Twenty-five to thirty minutes.  That’s all!  Your preschooler will demand that much attention anyway.  Why not give it in a planned, well-balanced, meaningful way?  You young, new homeschool moms may be saying, “Hmmmm.  I’m not sure that’s enough time.”  You seasoned, veteran homeschool moms may be saying, “Hmmmm. I’m not sure that I have enough time.”

Well, young moms, it is enough, and the good news is, you can add in other fun things if you want – like walks in the park, picnics in the backyard, or read-alouds and field trips galore. Veteran moms, you do have the time, and it will erase the guilt of not spending quality time alone with your little one.  And if you truly don’t have the time, an older child can enjoy teaching Little Hands… to a younger sibling, and you can come in on the parts you care most about!

Making a Color Book with Older Brother
Added benefits -you don’t need to plan ahead, leave your home, start a certain time of year, or buy extra things to do Little Hands!

Open-and-go.  Get up and teach!  Did you get to bed late caring for everybody but yourself?  Was there little sleep for you last night because you were up with a sick child… up tossing and turning… up because you aren’t feeling well yourself?  Is it November, and you wanted to start something with your little one in August but haven’t? Well, grab some coffee, stumble out of bed, and open that guide.  That’s all there is to it.  Buy one Little Hands… package. You have what you need… and it won’t cost you much… and you can reuse it.  Plus, the plans are not attached to holidays, seasons, or months.  So, anytime is a good time to start Little Hands!

One more surprising bonus – you actually get to be ‘fun mom!’

These are my sons’ words, not mine.  Let’s just be clear, when I was fun and young, I wasn’t so fun. I was trying to prove myself to all those people who thought homeschooling might not be ‘enough,’ and I prodded… quizzed… questioned… my poor oldest son too much.  Still, he thought when we did Little Hands… I was ‘fun mom’ – thank you, Lord!

Then, when there were health concerns for me and for my family when I began homeschooling my middle son, again, NOT ‘fun mom.’  Still, somehow when we did Little Hands… I was ‘fun mom’ again – who knew?!?

And then when I began homeschooling my last son, I was sure ‘fun mom’ was seriously out of commission.  I was weary, gals.  Somehow, miraculously, ‘fun mom’ reappeared apparently!  I know, because my son called our Little Hands… ‘playschool,’ not preschool.  And he brought his Little Hands… guide to me begging to do ‘playschool.’  New mercies… never-failing.  Turns out being ‘fun mom’ was awesome!  Often in the midst of some not-so-fun-things in life.

Fun Follow-up Activities That Use Whatever You Have on Hand

So, there you have it!  I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Little Hands to Heaven!  Next time, I’ll introduce you to Little Hearts for His Glory! In the meantime, enjoy checking out the printable Introduction and first week of plans of Little Hands, as well as some of our most common questions!

In Christ,

Julie