My “Go-To Recipe” for Homeschool Success

From Our House to Yours

My “Go-To Recipe” for Homeschool Success

Do you have a “Go-To Recipe” you use again and again? A “Go-to recipe” is a recipe you pull out for meals again and again. A go-to recipe is a favorite because of its simplicity and its success rate. It is tried and true, and it always works. Well, just like my cooking binder has some well-loved go-to recipes, so does my homeschool binder. The formula is basic, but it always works. So, here is my go-to recipe for homeschool success!

Go-To Recipe for Homeschool Success

Set a start time and stick to it.

Alternate teaching times with independent times.

Set times to meet with each student and stick to them.

During teaching times correct work competed, teach teacher-directed boxes, and end with giving directions for semi-independent or independent work.

Mix in joint playtimes for youngers, add snack breaks, and season with love!

Oh, and make sure everyone has their own copy of your ‘Go-To Recipe’ for homeschooling!

Now, that’s a recipe for success!

Sample Go-To Recipe for Three Children Ranging Ages 4 to 10

Let’s just say you have a 4 year-old doing Little Hands to Heaven (LHTH), a 7 year-old doing Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond), and a 10 year-old doing Creation to Christ (CTC). Here’s a sample go-to recipe:

Start time: 8:30 AM

8:30 to 9:30 AM:  Teaching time with 10 yo CTC student; Playtime together for 4 yo LHTH student and 7 yo Beyond student.

9:30 to 10 AM: Breakfast and Chores

10 -11 AM: Teaching time with 7 yo Beyond student. Independent work time for 10 yo CTC student. Independent playtime 30 minutes and audio book 30 minutes for 4 yo LHTH student.

10 to 10:30 AM: Teaching time with 10 yo CTC student with snack; 7 yo Beyond student helps 4 yo pick up from playtime then they have a snack together at kitchen table.

10:30 to 11:15 AM: Teaching time with 7 yo Beyond student; Independent work time for 10 yo CTC student; Independent playtime of learning stations for 4 yo LHTH student.

11:15 to 11:45 AM:  Teaching time with 4 yo LHTH student; Independent work time for 10 yo CTC student; Independent work time for 7 yo Beyond student (playtime if independent work is done before time is up).

11:45 – 12:15 PM: Teaching time with 7 yo Beyond student; Playtime together for 4 yo LHTH and 10 yo CTC students. (Tip: If running behind, have 10 yo finish LHTH with 4 yo.)  At this point, 4 yo LHTH student and 7 yo Beyond student are done with school.

12:15 – 1 PM: Teaching time and final correcting time with 10 yo CTC student. Exercise video or playtime with toys together for 4 yo LHTH student and 7 yo Beyond student.

DONE! 1 PM Lunch and then Free Time! A recipe for success!

In Christ,

Julie

Should I add the extension books to change up the units we’re repeating?

Dear Carrie

Should I add the extension books to change up the units we’re repeating?

Last year, we started Bigger Hearts with my 2nd grader. Though we enjoyed it, I ended up having some unexpected life challenges, and we set it aside for a textbook/workbook approach. I feel, like I did last year, that God has led our family to Heart of Dakota. I prayerfully want to make this work. Although my son was doing fine with Bigger for 2nd grade, I feel like it would still be a good fit for him. Plus, I am familiar with it, so it’s not like I’d be trying to learn something new. So, I was considering buying the Extension books to read along during the units he already covered. He will only be in 3rd grade though. Will they be okay as read alouds? (NOT independent reading.) Just looking for a way to repeat those units (1-15) and change it up a bit. What do you think?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Decide If I Should Add the Extension Books for the Units I’m Repeating”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Decide If I Should Add the Extension Books for the Units I’m Repeating,”

If you made it partway through Bigger Hearts last year, I would be inclined to just pick Bigger up where you left off and go forward from there with it as written. For a third grader, I wouldn’t add the Extension books as a general rule, but would instead encourage you to do the Storytime books (either boy, girl, or classic set). The skills in the Storytime box are really important, and the books in the Storytime sets were chosen for their read-aloud quality.

The Extension books were intended to be read independently by the child and were chosen to extend the study of American history for an older learner. So, the Extension book readings will be much longer as read-alouds, as they were not intended for that purpose. If you love to read aloud, you can certainly read aloud some of the Extension titles. However, we wouldn’t want that to replace the very needed Storytime read-aloud sessions and skills.

Blessings,
Carrie

Are you a fast talker? Try slowing down!

From Our House to Yours

Are you a fast talker? Try slowing down!

Those of you who have called Heart of Dakota or met me in person probably know, I am a fast talker. I come from a family of fast talkers! Not only am I a fast talker, I am a fast mover. My car is barely in park, and I’m throwing open the door. If I need something from the basement, move out of the way! I’m coming down the stairs… fast. I have good intentions! Truly, I just want to get the most out of life. The trouble is, sometimes a fast pace is good, and sometimes it is not. How about you? Are you a fast talker, and a mover and a shaker? Well, you might want to try slowing it down now and then! It could make a big difference in how certain children do in homeschooling!

If you are a fast talker, slowing down might be hard to do!

I have learned to take time to purposely slow down. Sitting in my rocking chair on my porch petting Sweetie Pie, my cat, for awhile, for example, has been a good slow down for me. Dating my hubby once a week has been another good slow down for me. Watching a t.v. show or movie with my sons each week has been yet another good slow down for me. However, slowing down this fast talker has been a little harder!

What does being a fast talker have to do with homeschooling?

If you’ve hung with me so far, thank you. I’m about to do some fast talking and get to the point. What does being a fast talker have to do with homeschooling? Well, a few weeks ago I would have told you nothing. However, that was a few weeks ago. Today, I would tell you being a fast talker has a LOT to do with homeschooling! You see, I made an incredible discovery while teaching my youngest son, Emmett. I noticed he was catching bits and pieces of what I was saying. I always thought this was a focus issue. However, we are using www.mathhelp.com for Pre-Algebra, and the online teacher speaks v-e-r-y slowly. Emmett is retaining math terms better than ever! Somehow, it must have been the good Lord’s prompting, I realized how I tend to talk much, much faster than the online math teacher. Hmmmm.

I decided to try an experiment!

R & S English has oral questions I ask at the start of every lesson. The questions are largely vocabulary-driven. I already knew it helped Emmett to study the questions and answers before I met with him. However, after trying this all last year, I realized this study method really worked better for my middle son, Riley. For Emmett, it was still somewhat hit and miss with what he remembered, and he didn’t like it. So, I decided to try an experiment. I slowed down my fast talking. I simply asked the questions quite slowly, pausing after phrases even. It was incredible! After just a few weeks of this, Emmett is answering everything correctly! Next, I tried slowing down my fast talking with dictation. Amazing! He is doing better than ever! Finally, I slowed down my oral discussion questions in DITHOR and in history. I also let him see the questions in the guides. Eureka! Emmett is answering questions like a champ!

If you’re a fast talker, try slowing down your talking, and see if it helps!

Are you a fast talker? If you are and you are thinking your kiddos don’t concentrate or focus well, try slowing down your talking! It is a simple experiment well worth trying. I want to stress that Emmett is an intelligent, creative boy. He is just a deep thinker who likes to take his time processing things. He’s also a teenager who has grown over 7 inches in the past year. Anyway, as homeschool moms we can test out hunches like this. Slowing down my talking and letting my son see the questions as I ask them (at least for history and for DITHOR) has helped Emmett make incredible strides in comprehension and retention! If you’re a fast talker like me, consider slowing things down; you might see a real change too!

In Christ,

Julie

How do you move through an English lesson in a timely fashion?

Dear Carrie

How do you move through an English lesson in a timely fashion?

All is going well with Heart of Dakota – off to a great start! However, I have some questions about how to move through an R & S English 4 lesson in a timely fashion. Do you do all of the oral review questions, the oral assignment questions, and the written assignment questions? Today, for example, we did the oral, but then the written was almost identical. It seemed like I was having my son do double the work. I’m also struggling on writing assignment days. They seem to take much longer, and I usually need two days for each of the writing assignments. I have my son write his story. Then, I correct it and go over it with him. Finally, I have him re-write it correctly. I know this is all taking way longer than it should. So, my question is, how do you move through an English lesson in a timely fashion? Thanks in advance!

Sincerely,

Ms. Please Help Me Move Through English More Quickly”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Move Through English More Quickly,”

We do the 5 oral questions at the beginning of each lesson, and then we do the entire lesson. However, we do most of the entire lesson orally. This means that we do the sections marked as “Written Exercises” orally too. I only choose one small section in each lesson to have my kiddos do in writing. To do the written exercises orally, I just have my kiddos say the answers instead of writing them. I often read the sentences aloud in the exercises, and then have my child quickly say the answers right after me. My reading parts aloud to them keeps their attention and keeps the lesson moving quickly. Before the lesson begins, however, I have my kiddos read the first part of the lesson to themselves. This way they are prepared for what is to come. This all helps us move through English more quickly!

We diagram sentences on the white board to move through diagramming more quickly.

We often diagram together on the white board, which helps us move more quickly through the lesson. I might just draw the diagram lines and have my kiddos point and say where the various words will go. This procedure has allowed us to keep Rod and Staff English very manageable. Even at the upper levels like English 6-8, we move very quickly through the lesson; we don’t exceed 30 to 40 minutes total on most days for both oral and written work. It is true though that review lessons and writing days take longer.

To move lessons along quickly if you are running behind, you could do the rest of the written work orally.

I do think another factor around English 4 is that students have not really cemented their English skills yet, so their answering doesn’t come as quickly. They are having to think harder to remember and English is not naturally a part of their skill-base yet. So, for some kiddos it may take longer at the English 4 and 5 level until they become more familiar with what is being asked of them. Don’t despair! If your lessons are running long, you could do evens or odds for awhile. However, in the long haul I’d try not to make skipping a practice. I would set a goal not to exceed 30 minutes at this stage. If you see you are coming close to that time and are not done for the day, omit any written work and just do it all orally. This is another technique I use when running behind. I want to encourage you, you will see such progress with these few tips!

Blessings,
Carrie

Pacing for No-Nonsense Algebra

Dear Carrie

What pacing would you suggest for No-Nonsense Algebra?

I am using No-Nonsense Algebra with my 8th grader. This is my first year homeschooling, and I was looking through the book. Carrie, have you used this with your child? Do we have the child do one section a day? I am hoping it will not be too hard for him. Any advice would be appreciated!!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help with Pacing on No-Nonsense Algebra”

Dear “Ms. Please Help with Pacing on No-Nonsense Algebra,”

Congratulations on beginning your homeschool journey with Heart of Dakota! No-Nonsense Algebra’s text is broken up into sections that you can just move through at a pace of one per day if desired. It is important to watch the video first and then do the lesson. My oldest son worked through this program for his 8th grade year when it was first out, and it worked well to set the foundation for algebra.

Like any math program, it may not suit all learners. However, in situations where students either need a first pass through algebra prior to high school, or for students who struggle with math and need a no-nonsense approach to getting through algebra, this text works well. Often with any math text, kiddos are taking more from the lessons than we think. Although, sometimes this doesn’t show up until later! For many kiddos, algebra can be frustrating on its first pass through. This is because maturity has much to do with a child’s ability to think and reason at the level required for algebra. Often, just growing a year or two older does as much for a child as the specific program being used.

With my oldest son, we did do VideoText Algebra after No-Nonsense Algebra, which is an option you could also consider. He finished No-Nonsense Algebra early and was able to begin VideoText during the end of his 8th grade year. For us, this worked well. With my second oldest son, we did Foerster’s Algebra, which is another option you could consider.

Blessings,
Carrie