Don’t interrupt the flow of the reading.

Teaching Tip:

What is a “living book”?

Heart of Dakota’s curriculum is full of living books. Each living book is typically written by a single author who is very passionate about his/her topic. These books stand out for their conversational, narrative style and their ability to make almost any subject come to life. Living books are read in smaller segments slowly over time to allow your students to “live” with the books.

As you read aloud a living book, don’t pause during the reading to explain or question.

In a Charlotte Mason style living book reading, it is important not to stop and explain or question during the reading. You may be tempted to define difficult words, explain what is happening, or question your child to be sure he/she is understanding. While you may think you’re helping your child comprehend better by doing these things, you really aren’t!

Interrupting the flow of the reading makes it more difficult for the child to comprehend and make connections.

Charlotte Mason says that stopping during a reading to explain or question actually interrupts the flow of the reading. This makes it more difficult for the child to comprehend and make his/her own connections. So, whenever you feel the urge to pause during the reading to “help” your child, resist the urge and read on!

Reading without interruption, helps develop the habit of attention.

As your child learns to attend to a single reading, your child will be developing the habit of attention. This is a much needed habit to cultivate and isn’t one that occurs naturally in all kiddos. Try making a point not to interrupt the reading and see if your child eventually begins to attend better. I know I have been pleasantly surprised with my own boys when I tried this essential step when reading aloud!

Blessings,
Carrie

A Living Book – More Than Just a Pretty Cover!

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

A Living Book – More Than Just a Pretty Cover!

Charlotte Mason believed “living” books make learning ‘come alive.’ Living books pull you in and make you want to read more. Each page you turn, you find yourself more and more invested in the book you are reading. You begin to know the characters, inside and out. Your emotions rise and fall as you weather the storms and ride the waves with them. You can begin to predict how they’ll react to situations before they even make a move. By the time you read the last page, you know you’ve met some characters you’ll never forget. They will go with you through life and live on in your memory. That’s what living books can do, and they are so much more than just pretty covers!

Not all living books have pretty covers!

Carrie, the author of Heart of Dakota and my amazing sister, has an incredible knack for finding the absolute best living books! Through the past 20 years of Heart of Dakota’s existence, Carrie has been on an unending search for the very best of the best living books. I cannot tell you how many times I have stopped by my sister’s house to find her reading for hours on end, with piles and piles of books surrounding her to be read next. She has tirelessly dedicated herself to finding the diamonds in the rough. Sure, there are timeless, well-known living books that have won ample awards that Carrie has chosen to include in Heart of Dakota. However, there are also the less known needle-in-the-haystack finds that Carrie has lovingly chosen – and I will say, not all of them have pretty covers.

A pretty cover is sometimes just a pretty cover!

I remember Carrie showing me some of the books’ covers she was choosing between. She would ask my opinion, and sometimes, I’d look at the covers and be swayed this way or that. Then, she’d sometimes plead the case for the less than pretty cover and have me read a chapter of both books in the running. As I finished reading each, she’d have that look on her face like, “Gotcha! Didn’t I?!?”  Yes. Hands down, one book would be the obvious living books’ award-winner. Often times, it was not the book with the pretty cover.

The longer children use Heart of Dakota, the less they seem to care about the pretty covers!

The longer my children have used Heart of Dakota, the less they seem to care about the pretty covers. After my oldest son read Heart of Dakota’s Cat of Bubastes and Boy Knight, he became an avid fan of the author G.A. Henty. His Christmas list that year included ‘anything by G.A. Henty.’ Old G.A. Henty books with less than pretty covers were much cheaper. Still, I was reluctant to buy them. They REALLY did NOT have pretty covers. I wasn’t sure what he’d think about that, so I asked him. I said I could either get him a lot of G.A. Henty books with less than pretty covers, or a few G.A. Henty books with nicer covers that were more recently published. He didn’t skip a beat! He grinned and said, “Uhhh, MORE please – it’s what’s inside that counts, right Mom?” Well said, son.

Veteran Heart of Dakota users are often the best defenders of the books with less than pretty covers!

Often when I am helping someone on the phone at Heart of Dakota, we are both online or in catalogs peering at the covers of books. The same is true when I am helping someone at a convention. I have noticed with families newer to Heart of Dakota, there are often comments about the covers of the books. Newer books with shiny covers and beautiful artwork often grab their attention first. In contrast, older books with covers that may not have been updated for awhile get comments like, My daughter just wouldn’t open this book and read it on her own. Or, My son wouldn’t like this book because of the cover; it’s just not that exciting. 

This is when I find myself beginning to defend these books with less than pretty covers! I often end up launching into an oral narration of sorts. (By the way, thank you Charlotte Mason and Heart of Dakota for that wise instruction too!) If I am in this situation at a homeschool convention, I often don’t have to say a word. A nearby Heart of Dakota homeschool mom or homeschool student listening in does the defending for me. Oh, that was our favorite book!  The cover doesn’t do it justice! Or, Just wait ’til you get into that book – it’s awesome! You won’t be able to put it down!

I urge you, take time to look within, rather than hastily judging a book by its cover!

I want to be clear, Heart of Dakota has many, many books with vibrant, breathtakingly beautiful covers! In fact, most of the covers of the living books we carry draw kiddos in from the moment they lay their eyes on them. However, I urge you, for the love of living books, take time to look within them, rather than hastily judging them by their covers. Some of the very best books that are real gems happen to have less than pretty covers. Remember, as a wise son of mine once said, “It’s what’s inside that counts, right?” Yes, well said! Now, let’s open that book and read to discover its real merit. It might have much more to offer than that shiny new book somebody is selling next door that really has, well, just a pretty cover.

In Christ,

Julie

Summer is a great time for audio books!

Teaching Tip:

Summer is a great time for audio books!

Are your days stretching long with time to fill for your kiddos? Or, are your days filled with car trips and vacations? Are you beating the summer heat by staying indoors close to the air conditioner? No matter what your summer looks like, audio books are a great way to pass the time!

Listening to audios builds auditory skills.

Would you consider yourself to be an auditory learner? Or, are you more of a visual learner? Then again, perhaps you learn more easily by doing. Not everyone is strong in auditory learning, yet it is often an important way to learn! This means auditory skills are worth building. No matter what your child’s preferred learning style, as your kiddos listen to audio books they build auditory skills.

Do audio books only work for auditory learners?

Of course, auditory learners will enjoy audio books more. Since it is their preferred style of learning, auditory learners will listen to almost anything! However, all learners can enjoy audio books if you find the type that suits their listening style.

Try different types!

Try different types of audio books to find your child’s style. Perhaps your child would enjoy a dramatized version or one that is performed radio-style. Audios with background music, multiple voices and performers, and sound effects may have more of an appeal. Often the narrator’s voice makes a difference as to how easy it is to listen to and understand an audio book. The genre makes a difference too! Maybe your child loves mysteries, fantasies, humorous books, or nonfiction.

Set aside time to listen each day.

To enjoy the audio book, set aside 20-30 minutes each day for your child to listen. We encourage our boys to listen while they are playing quietly, or drawing, or modeling, or riding in the car, or laying in their beds. As with any book, it can take time and continuity to get “into” a book. If your child gets hooked, he/she may want to listen much longer!

Try audios this summer and see what you think!

Try a variety of audios with your child, and see if you can hook your listener. If you do, you will be building important auditory skills in an effortless way! Plus, it’s just plain fun to get lost in a good book!

Blessings,
Carrie

Learning comes alive with living books!

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Learning comes alive with living books!

Charlotte Mason had a passion for living books being at the heart and center of a child’s education! Why? Well, simply put, “living” books make learning ‘come alive.’ They pull you into a subject and make you want to read more. Think about some of the books that have impacted you the most. These books spoke to you for one reason or another, and they stayed with you long after the last page was read. Living books do that. Dry textbooks with encyclopedia-like writing do the opposite. In fact, instead of making learning ‘come alive,’ they seem to put us to sleep. Very few textbooks, if any, make their way onto our favorite books’ list. An education with living books is a lasting education, because what is read is remembered.

“Children should have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times – a delightful double existence; and this joy they will find, for the most part, in their story books. Their lessons, too, history and geography, should cultivate their conceptive powers. If the children do not live in the times of his history lesson, be not at home in the climate his geography book describes, why, these lessons will fail of their purpose.” – Charlotte Mason

Authors love what they write about in their living books!

Living books are often written by authors that are passionate about one thing, and that one thing is the topic of their beloved book(s). For example, John Hudson Tiner is passionate about science. This love comes through in the living books he’s authored, like Exploring Planet Earth. Ann Voskamp is passionate about geography, and so she wrote  A Child’s Geography I and II. Edward Eggleston was passionate about American history, and so was William J. Bennett, which is why they wrote the amazing living books they did! Starr Meade loves the Bible, and so she authored Grandpa’s Box and The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study!  Bob Schultz had a heart for helping boys become Christian men, while Joni Eareckson Tada and Bobbi Wolgemuth are passionate about hymns. The author passionate about what he/she writes produces a far different book than a group of people mass writing a textbook together.

“One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough; and if it is needful to exercise economy, let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child’s intellectual life.” ― Charlotte Mason

Children come alive by reading living books!

Heart of Dakota uses living books for as many school subjects as possible. All of the authors I mentioned earlier are people your children will get to ‘meet’ via their living books using Heart of Dakota! The other day, we had our eye doctor appointments. Each of my sons brought a book to read, and the receptionist asked me what I did to get them to read books. I told her these books were simply amazing! The kind you just can’t put down! She told me sadly how rare it is to see children reading anymore – they always seemed to be playing games on their phones. “Whatever those books are, I need to get some!” she said. “I want my little one to love reading like your sons do!” Two words dear… ‘living books.’ That’s all I can say! They just make learning come alive!!!

“The most common and the monstrous defect in the education of the day is that children fail to acquire the habit of reading.”Charlotte Mason

In Christ,

Julie

Breathe Life into History by Meeting ‘Its’ People

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Breathe Life into History by Meeting ‘Its’ People

Oh, it is cold outside! Why don’t you come right in? Let me take your coat, and please do have a seat. Yes, right here, by the fire! Here is a cup of cocoa, and one for me as well. Oh, and what’s that I hear? Ahhh, a knocking on the door. Our guest has arrived! Let us see who it is we will meet today, shall we? Oh my! You will never believe who it is!  _______, come right in and join us! Today is the day we make each other’s acquaintance! I daresay at the end of this time spent together, we may remember each other – always. You see, it’s time once again in this Heart of Dakota, Charlotte Mason education to breathe life into history by meeting ‘its’ people. Oh, let’s DO begin, shall we?!?

People matter, in life and in history – just ask Charlotte Mason!

Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age. – Charlotte Mason (Home Education, Volume 1, p. 280)

People matter, in life and in history – just ask Carrie Austin!

The Charlotte-Mason style of learning is based on getting to know people and/or events in history. This is accomplished through the sharing of interesting stories of people’s lives or interesting anecdotes. Often times, these stories or anecdotes stay with a child over time. This Charlotte Mason approach to history allows children to make connections between people and events over time, rather than having us as parents make the connections for them. In Heart of Dakota‘s guides, your children learn people matter, in both life and in history!

Let me introduce you to so-and-so!

Your children will meet many people in history, as they journey chronologically through time, and these meetings are memorable! This approach to history is a staple of a Charlotte Mason form of education. One comment I never grow tired of hearing, that I have heard often, is parents’ sharing their children who formerly disliked history have had a complete turnaround to become children who now absolutely love history. They credit switching to Heart of Dakota‘s approach to history as being the turning point. Rather than dry textbooks with endless lists of dates, events, and names to memorize and forget, Heart of Dakota says ‘Let me introduce you to so-and-so!’ People go down in history for many different reasons, good and bad. But no matter why they have made their mark on history, learning history with a focus on ‘its’ people is both fascinating and memorable.

In Closing – An Endearing Charlotte Mason Quote

Children of seven are promoted to Form IA in which they remain for a couple of years… while the readings in IB are confined to the first third of the book embodying the simpler and more direct histories, those in IA go on to the end of the volume and children learn at any rate to love English history. “I’d a lot sooner have history than my dinner,” said a sturdy boy of seven by no means inclined to neglect his dinner. – Charlotte Mason (Home Education, Volume 6, p. 171)

In Christ,
Julie