Start a 5-day a week guide now to school 4 days a week later!

From Our House to Yours

Start a 5-day a week guide now to homeschool just 4 days a week next school year!

Do you find yourself searching for things for your children to do at home right now? Due to COVID-19, many families have had to cancel spring and summer plans. Increased time at home can leave parents scrambling to find things for their children to do. While older children can often find ways to entertain themselves, younger children still need parents to oversee them. In Heart of Dakota (HOD), the guides Little Hands to Heaven (LHTH) through Bigger Hearts for His Glory (BHFHG) utilize 5-day a week plans. If you find yourself looking for things to do with your younger children, here’s the answer! Try starting LHTH through BHFHG now, and you can shave time off your next homeschool year!

Why do the younger HOD guides have 5-day a week plans?

The younger HOD guides have plans for 5 days a week for many reasons. Spreading work over 5 days means days are kept shorter. Shorter homeschool days fit little ones better. Shorter days match their shorter attention spans, and they prevent fatigue and frustration. This shorter lesson format for younger children matches Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on the matter. Not to mention, more days of teaching of foundational skills like beginning phonics, handwriting, and math skills gives more days to cement these important skills for a strong start to learning in general. So, HOD’s scheduling of 5-day weeks for little ones is intentional.

Why do the older HOD guides have 4-day a week plans?

The older HOD guides have plans 4 days a week for many reasons. Taking 5 days’ worth of work and condensing it into 4 days means students have a free 5th day each week. Longer homeschool days fit older students better. Longer days match their increased attention spans. Likewise, longer blocks of time help students have enough time to truly complete their more in-depth, independent work. Having one free day each week fits older students better. This format allows older students to have free time for extracurricular activities, outside interests, and work. So, HOD’s schedule of 4-day weeks for older students is intentional. (Of course, if you happen to have an older student with a shorter attention span, you can always spread the 4 days of work over 5 days to have shorter days.)

How many units/weeks of 5-day plans would you need to complete to homeschool 4 days a week next school year?

Homeschooling 4 days a week is appealing to many homeschool families. A 4-day week is especially appealing to families who happen to have older children using HOD’s guides Preparing Hearts for His Glory through U.S. II high school, as these guides utilize a 4-day week format. Little Hands to Heaven has 33 weeks of 5-day a week plans. Little Hearts for His Glory through BHFHG have 34 weeks of 5-day a week plans. This equals a total of 165-170 days of plans. The older guides, from PHFHG through U.S.II, have 35 weeks of 4-day a week plans. This equals a total of 140 days of plans.

So, if you start homeschooling your youngers only now, and you make it through about 6 units/weeks of plans, you can homeschool just 4 days a week next school year and finish your guides!  You can do this either by homeschooling 5 days a week for 6 weeks, or by homeschooling 4 days a week for about 8 weeks. I often did this with my younger sons, once my oldest son had moved into 4-day a week guides. This was the best of both worlds in my opinion! My youngers still had shorter days, had more days of school to cement skills, and had me all to themselves when I needed to be with them anyway – but, during the school year their days matched my older son’s schedule… and I loved a day off each week! Give it a try!

In Christ,

Julie

 

Enjoy stress-free planning ahead with HOD’s flexibility in placement and pacing!

From Our House to Yours

Counting guides and stressing about planning ahead? Well, don’t! HOD takes the pressure off by offering flexible placement and pacing!

As homeschool moms, we love to plan ahead! Even when our children are little, we might be planning ahead for middle school or for high school. Blessedly, Heart of Dakota offers complete curricula for PreK through 12th grade. So, that already takes the pressure off planning what your child will do next! However, Heart of Dakota takes this one step further by offering flexibility within this plan, both in placement and in pacing. But how?

Flexibility in Placement

Heart of Dakota recognizes proper placement should be based on more than a child’s age. This is why we have a placement chart with age ranges for guides. It is also why when you ask for placement help, we don’t just ask the age of your child and then send you the same box of materials we’d send every other child of that same age. All children of a given age are not exactly alike – praise God! For how drab that would be! Heart of Dakota recognizes children of the same age have different needs by offering guides with age ranges, and by also including within each guide multiple levels of math, reading, spelling, grammar, etc. But, how do the plans ahead change based on if your child is on the younger, the middle, or the upper part of the target age range?

Flexibility for Those Who Place in the Middle or Upper Target Age Range

Heart of Dakota recognizes you might need flexibility in pacing for your children through the years. Students who place in the guides in the middle or upper side of the target age ranges will more than likely move through the typical guide sequence, graduating in 12th grade having done the 4 high school guides as written. However, if your child needs to slow the pacing of a guide, due to life events or to learning needs, extension packages can be added as needed. Then, going forward, we can help you plan the best path through high school based on your teenager’s future goals.

Flexibility for Those Who Place on the Youngest Side of the Target Age Range

For students who are more advanced and place on the very youngest side of the target age range, Carrie purposefully wrote the guides to have some flexibility for several reasons. One, in case this more advanced placement becomes too difficult at some point and the pacing needs to be slowed down, or two, in case there are some difficult years ahead. So, for example, if health concerns arise (for children/parents/grandparents), or if there is an unexpected job change or move, or if any other of the many unforeseen difficulties in life that make homeschooling need to be slowed down for a year or so occur, the student who had been doing the guides on the youngest side of the target age range has a year of ‘wiggle room.’ Or, of course, you can always just graduate a younger student a year early.

How I’ve Personally Taken Advantage of HOD’s Flexibility in Placement and Pacing

I find it interesting that all of my sons did Little Hearts for His Glory for kindergarten. However, none will graduate one year early. My oldest son did a guide a year until my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My son did not finish the last 7-8 units of World Geography, which he was using for 8th grade because of what was going on with my Dad. We decided to have my son complete the last 7-8 units of WG and the remaining 3 high school guides over 4 years.  It was perfect!  He was able to spend time with my Dad before he passed away and so was I, he worked more hours and earned money to pay for college, and he helped me homeschool my other children by teaching their math (he loves math and is good at it).  He is now in college and thriving!

How HOD’s Flexibility in Placement and Pacing Helped My Middle Son

My second son did a guide a year until Creation to Christ. He is very artistic and creative, and he was taking too long to finish each day. For him, we spread CTC and RTR over 3 years instead of 2 years.  It was perfect!  He is now an 11th grader doing USI and loving it! Lord willing, he will graduate exactly on time. HOD’s flexibility in placement and pacing was such a blessing!

How HOD’s Flexibility in Placement and Pacing Helped My Youngest Son

My third son did a guide a year until Bigger Hearts.  He was an excellent reader, but his writing needed to mature. We spread Bigger Hearts and Preparing Hearts over 3 years instead of 2 years. It was perfect!  He is now a 6th grader doing RTR and loving it!  Lord willing, he will graduate exactly on time. HOD’s flexibility in placement and pacing has been such a blessing!

The Blessings of Having an Extra Year of Flexibility

I share our homeschool journey to show that often times something in life happens that we do not expect, either health-wise or pacing-wise. It is an incredible blessing to have an extra year to work with, which is why Carrie planned for this.  Children on the youngest side of the target age range may find at some point that a slower pace would be better for one reason or another. Of course, if everything goes just perfectly both in life and in pacing of learning, students can graduate one year early.  There are many options for earning college credit that can be done from home in this scenario.

One More Option for Children on the Youngest Side of the Age Range

One other option that many families enjoy is taking either 5 years to do the 4 youngest guides (i.e. Little Hands…, Little Hearts…, Beyond…, and Bigger Hearts…) by homeschooling 4 days a week instead of 5 days a week. Click here for a schedule for this option. Or, families may take 4 years to do 3 guides (i.e. Little Hearts…, Beyond…, and Bigger Hearts…) by homeschooling half-speed at the start of each guide and/or 4 days a week instead of 5 days a week.  These are all 5 day a week guides, so this works well. Preparing Hearts… through USII 12th grade guides are all 4 days a week.

In Christ,
Julie

Our guides take advantage of the beginning of the school year” enthusiasm!

Teaching Tip:

Our guides take advantage of “beginning-of-the-school-year” enthusiasm!

If you are considering placing your child in one of our guides, here is a tip that is good to know. I planned each guide to take advantage of the enthusiasm the start of a new school year brings. So, at the start of a new guide, we really hit the skills hard and build on them incrementally throughout the year. This means the first week of plans is a good indicator of how difficult a guide is overall.

Rather than beginning with review, our guides jump in and get going right away!

Rather than starting with review, and beginning with easy things, our guides jump right in and get going right away. The benefit of this approach is that kiddos can work on mastering the skills in our guides all year long. This approach is good for the parent too, as you can see where you need your student to be by the time the guide ends.

Time spent training your students during the first week is time well-spent.

During the first week, it is helpful to spend some time training students in what the guide is asking. Since each guide has a definite pattern and repeating set of skills, time spent training students to complete the guide successfully is time well-spent.

As students discover the pattern of a guide, the guide takes less time.

As students begin to sense the pattern of a guide, they get into a rhythm. Things begin to fall into place. As the year progresses, students are able to complete their work in less time. As students master needed skills, the quality of their work improves too.

If your start to the year is rocky, hang in there!

If your start to a new guide is rocky, just hang in there! It should get better as you go. Your children should seem to thrive more as time passes. It is how the guides are designed to work! If for some reason your children continue to be overwhelmed in a guide, it may be time to rethink their placement.

Blessings,
Carrie

Pacing of the World History Literature Plans

Dear Carrie

Can you explain the pacing of the World History literature plans?
We’ve enjoyed using Heart of Dakota for many years, and we are looking ahead to World History. From the past year, I’m assuming students do written narrations for the literature plans. However, I am wondering how often written narrations are scheduled? Looking at the online sample week, I see it isn’t scheduled. So, I am guessing it isn’t weekly. Also, about how much literature reading is scheduled on average each day? I’m just thinking ahead to next year, and I’m trying to figure out if my son will be able to handle the reading pace. I think he will be up to a little more challenge, but I’m not sure how much of a challenge. Maybe I will have to slow the pace down, so it’s not so much each day. Then again, I’m always surprised at how much he grows each year in HOD. I may totally be overthinking this!
Sincerely,
“Ms. Please Explain the Pacing of the World History Literature Plans”
Dear “Ms. Please Explain the Pacing of the World History Literature Plans,”

We are enjoying the World History (WH) Literature box this year in our own home! I know it is hard to tell from the first week of plans online how the literature in the WH Guide is set up. This is simply because the first week is a training week for the varying components in the literature box. So, I’d be glad to explain the pacing. On Days 1, 3, and 4, I kept the pattern quite similar with the literature box broken up into “Introduce,” “Read and Annotate,” “Select,” and “Reflect.”

Days 1, 3, and 4:  Introduce, Read and Annotate, Select, and Reflect

“Introduce” gives a little background or something to watch for or think about in the day’s reading. “Read and Annotate” assigns pages to be read and expects the students to annotate as they read. Often one annotation is given to the kiddos to help them learn to annotate better and to key them into important nuances within the narrative. “Select” requires students to select a passage to copy in their Common Place Book. “Reflect” is a written Literature Journal style reflection based on the day’s reading with topics ranging from Biblical/life applications to literary themes/elements to character motives/descriptors to Scripture connections/Godly character traits, etc. There is quite a bit of flexibility built into the length of the students’ responses to the “Reflect” part of the plans.

Day 2: Oral or Written Narrations

On Day 2, I have students do either an oral narration or a written narration. I alternate these narration types by week, and I include some given topics from the reading on which to reflect as a part of the narration.

Plan about 45 minutes to 1 hour a day for Literature.

Typically, we plan for the Literature box to take students around 45 minutes to 1 hour a day. Of course, faster readers may be done sooner, and slower readers will take longer. Rod and Staff Grammar/Essentials in Writing alternate daily, taking an additional 30 minutes daily. Together these comprise the “English” credit and take about 1 hour 15 minutes (up to 1 hour 30 minutes) daily.

We worked to make the design and daily assignments of the literature plans meet college entrance requirements.

I planned the times for Literature in the World History guide to be similar to the times I’ve outlined above. Again, I realize variances in reading speed will effect the actual time literature takes daily. We have worked to make sure that the the design and daily assignments of our literature plans meet college preparatory requirements, encompass needed literary skills, include classic works that are worthy of being read, and challenge students appropriately for the high school level.

It helps to remember public school students’ time requirements.

When thinking how much time literature is taking daily in your high school student’s schedule, it helps to remember that students in the public school sector spend 50 minutes in literature class 5 days a week and often have additional reading in the evening. Many high school students also have a required summer reading list of classics, and they are expected to read “x” number of classics prior to school beginning. With these things in mind, along with the fact that students are doing school 4 days a week rather than 5 with Heart of Dakota, you can see how much time literature is expected to take daily from a typical high school perspective. Therefore, we try to keep these things in mind as we write.

I pray the literature plans may be a blessing to your family!

I pray that the literature in our high school guides may be a blessing to your family! It was very challenging and rewarding for me to write the literature portion of the World History guide’s plans, as it was a very time consuming type of reading/writing/planning. Yet, my son who is doing the WH guide this year says he really loves the literature part of his day, and I love the morals, values, thematic and Scriptural application, and just plain old great classics that this year of plans contains! So, happy reading to you and your son!

Blessings,
Carrie

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,
Julie