Setting Up for Preparing Hearts for His Glory

From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for Preparing Hearts for His Glory

So, I’ve placed my children, had my Heart of Dakota  ‘box day,’ and am setting up for Preparing Hearts for His Glory (PHFHG). My first step is to read through PHFHG‘s Introduction, Appendix, and first week or month of plans. This helps me envision my year and understand what my guide covers. As each Introduction includes options (i.e. one large binder or several smaller binders, etc.), I like to note my chosen options in the margin of the Introduction. This way, I can easily make my shopping list later based on my notes. Likewise, it is important to read through the beginning pages and “Getting Started” section in the Appendix  of Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR).

Setting Up the Front of My PHFHG Binder

First, I make a color photocopy of my PHFHG cover and insert it in my binder. If you don’t have a color copier, black and white looks nice too! Second, I print the Introduction of the guide off the Internet (click here). I use the Table of Contents as my attendance record, noting the dates we completed each unit (i.e. Unit 1:  Sept. 2-6, 2019). Third, I print the first week of plans (click here), which is a nice overview. If your state requires a completed portfolio for meeting with a principal or umbrella school, the Introduction and first week of plans give an excellent overview of what is covered. (Carrie gives permission for the Introduction and First Week of Plans to be printed or copied for portfolio compilation. However, any other photocopies or retyping of plans would be a copyright infringement.)

Label History, History Projects, and Science Tab Dividers 

Next, I label tab dividers for my binder. My goals are to show what my child did and how he progressed in skills. So, I label my first tab “HISTORY.” Behind this tab, I place my child’s completed history written narrations (from the Reading About History box of plans), as well as my child’s completed Draw and Write Through History assignments (from the Independent History Study box of plans). If I have an older child who is using the history extensions, I place any completed 2-3 paragraph summaries or pictures with one paragraph summaries here as well. Next, I label my second tab “HISTORY PROJECTS.” I place any of my child’s history projects that happen to be flat here. Then, I label my third tab “SCIENCE.” Here, I place my child’s completed science notebooking assignments and lab sheets.

Label Language Arts and Math Tab Dividers

Next, I label my fourth tab “LANGUAGE ARTS.” I place any completed assignments from Poetry Day 2’s creative writing lessons here. If my child did DITHOR, I either choose some completed workbook pages to include, or I just keep his entire DITHOR 4/5 Student Book. Likewise, for the cursive workbook (if my child is doing cursive this year instead of last year), for the R & S English 3 or 4 written work, and for the spelling/dictation written work, I either choose a handful of completed pages for the binder, or I just keep the entire workbook and notebook(s). Finally, I label my fifth tab “MATH” and include any completed math workbook pages, or I just keep the entire workbook.

Things Either to Do at the Start Or to Do As They Come Up in the Plans

If I want to use photocopies of DICTATION instead of the Appendix, I photocopy the passages. I also label a wide-lined composition notebook ‘DICTATION.’ For VOCABULARY, I follow the directions on Unit 1, Day 2, of the daily plans to either get a composition notebook and label 2 pages for each letter of the alphabet, or get a card file with index cards and alphabetical tabs. I’ll need between 75 and 175 index cards, with the number of cards needed based on how many of the 3-5 weekly vocabulary words I choose to have my child do. For SCIENCE, I photocopy 37 (nice to have a few extra) Science Lab sheets from the Appendix and put them in a folder. For TIMELINE, I follow the directions on Unit 1, Day 4’s timeline plans to create prepare either for the accordion-style timeline or for the on-the-door timeline.

Other Things to Do

For the written work in English GRAMMAR, I label a lined composition book or notebook ‘GRAMMAR.’ For the Day 4 HISTORY written narrations, I choose either a lined notebook or loose-leaf paper.  If I chose a notebook, I label it ‘HISTORY WRITTEN NARRATIONS.’ Either way though, I include the written narrations in the binder behind the ‘history’ tab. For the Day 3 SCIENCE questions, I label a lined composition book or notebook ‘SCIENCE QUESTIONS. For MATH, I choose to either have my child write directly in the textbooks/workbooks, to use loose-leaf paper, or to use a lined notebook. If I chose a lined notebook, I label it ‘MATH.’ Finally, I choose a special lined and bound book for my child’s COMMON PLACE BOOK, which is described in Unit 1, Day 4’s Bible Study box.

Setting Up for Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR)

You can either set up DITHOR at the start or do it as you move through the plans. If I do this at the startI fill out the DITHOR 4/5 Student Book “Reading Calendar.” Using HOD’s “Optional Book Recommendations,” I fill in the page numbers to be read each day. For example, if my son is using the DITHOR Level 3 Book Pack, I see ‘5 days’ next to Biography: Louis Braille. So, I divide the total number of pages or chapters in Louis Braille by 5. As there are 10 chapters, I just write “Ch. 1-2” on ‘Day 1’ of the Reading Calendar, “Ch. 3-4” on ‘Day 2,’ and so on.

Then, as I see ’10 days’ next to Biography: Alexander Hamilton, I divide the total number of pages by 10. As there are 114 total pages in Alexander Hamilton, I divide 114 by 10 and fill in the reading calendar for about 11 pages a day. I might do this for each genre or just the first one. Also, I might choose my first genre kickoff in my DITHOR Teacher’s Guide.

Label Sticky Tabs to Mark Places in the PHFHG Guide

Next, I label sticky tabs to mark places in my guide. I label the first tab “DAILY PLANS,” placing it on Unit 1, Day 1. Then, I label the next tabs “DICTATION,” “POETRY,” and “MATH,” placing them in the Appendix.  Likewise, if my child is using the extensions, I label another tab “EXTENSIONS.” If I am photocopying the Science Lab sheet as it comes up in the plans, I label another tab “SCIENCE LAB.” Finally, for DITHOR, I label 2 tabs “DAILY PLANS,” placing one in the teacher’s guide and one in the student book.

Special Items for Preparing Hearts for His Glory

There are a few special items needed for PHFHG. By this time I already know which items I’ll need, because I wrote them in the margin of my Introduction earlier. Some things I’ve noted are a world map or globe, and a children’s Bible for Bible Study. I also noted a Webster’s dictionary for Vocabulary. One final thing I liked to do is make a photocopy of the Narration Tips: Teacher’s List, How to Narrate: Student’s List, Written Narration Skills: Teacher’s List, and/or Written Narration Skills: Student’s List.  Carrie does give permission to photocopy these. I keep the teacher’s list for me to reference and the student’s list for my child to reference. However, you can always just put another tab in your PHFHG guide and label it “NARRATION TIPS,” if you’d rather.

Shopping for Supplies

Carrie’s plans use readily available household supplies, and many options are suggested. For example, the plans may call for either a bean bag and a basket, or a rolled up pair of socks and a plastic bin. I just skim the History Project and Science plans every month or so, to look for the one-off supply. However, to get ready to begin PHFHG, I just stock up on usual art supplies, like crayons, markers, glue (sticks and liquid), scissors, construction paper, tissue paper (colored), tape (masking and clear), a ruler, a yardstick, playdough, paints/paintbrushes, cotton balls, yarn/string, etc. I also stock up on index cards, page protectors, and a few catalogs. Finally, I’ve found a flashlight, deck of cards, CD player (for Lead Me to the Rock), bouncy ball, paperclips, paper plates, food coloring, marker board with dry erase markers, and q-tips/toothpicks are also nice to have on hand.

Sorting Resources into “Things We Need Now” and “Things We Need Later” Bins or Totes

One of the last things I do is get two canvas bins.  I use one for ‘things we need now’ and the other for ‘things we need later.’ As I read through each box of my first week of PHFHG’s plans, I put each needed resource in the bin  for ‘things we need now.’ I put the remaining items in the bin for ‘things we need later.’ Throughout the year as we finish using resources, I put them in the back of the ‘things we need later’ bin, and I move the next books or resources we need into the ‘things we need now’ bin or tub. This way, my ‘things we need now’ bin only contains what we need for each week. Another benefit is the ‘things we need now’ are always mobile! Likewise, I put many art supplies in a tool turnabout, so these are mobile too!

In Closing

As you can see, the steps you take to set up will vary based on your personal preferences. I’m writing this post so the end result is a lovely 3-ring binder portfolio with tabs alongside a completed timeline, notebooks, workbooks, and/or card files. This will be a wonderful way to show what your child has done! However, there are many options. For example, instead of one large binder,  I sometimes choose several small 1 or 2 inch binders (i.e. one for history, one for science, etc.). Or, I sometimes buy one big 4-subject tabbed notebook, and label the sections GRAMMAR, HISTORY, SCIENCE, and MATH. Usually, I base this on my child. If he prefers several small binders or notebooks, we do that. Or, if he prefers just one large binder and notebook, we do that. So, by all means, set up your year how YOU’D like!

In Christ,
Julie

 

 

Placement: PHFHG or CTC for a 10 yo newly independent reader and writer?

Pondering Placement

Would you recommend Preparing Hearts or Creation to Christ for a 10 year old who is a newly independent reader and writer?

I’ve been pouring over the HOD Message Board and catalog! My daughter is a 10 year old 4th grader. She’s taken time in becoming independent in reading. Last year, she did really well with Bigger Hearts, but she only made it through Unit 24. She didn’t continue into Preparing Hearts because she was not reading independently. This year, we spent lots of time with intense phonics review and lots of reading. She also completed Singapore 3B, Dictation Level 2, Rod and Staff 3, Writing with Ease, and Level 2 readers. She can read and orally narrate, and she can write about 3-5 very simple sentences. One minute I’m convinced she should be in PHFHG. Then, I switch to CTC! She might not be ready for DITHOR 4/5. I’m very unsure. She’s self-motivated but can be a complainer if she thinks she can’t do something. My worry is the reading!

Carrie’s Reply: Preparing Hearts for His Glory is my placement recommendation.

Thanks so much for sharing about your daughter! With what you’ve shared so far, I’d be inclined to suggest Preparing Hearts for her placement, based mostly upon her reading and writing level. Additionally, CTC is quite a step up in independence, in amount of reading, and in following lengthy written directions. I would be hesitant to put a child who has been a bit of a late bloomer in reading into CTC without first having had that child go through the stepping stones that are built into Preparing Hearts.

I’d recommend DITHR 2/3 along with the Level 3 DITHR Book Pack.

I think that a year in Preparing Hearts would also keep her from being too overwhelmed with the addition of DITHR to her days. With this in mind, I’d lean toward having her do Preparing with DITHR Level 2/3 (if she hasn’t already done it) or 4/5 (if she has already been through DITHR 2/3). I’d also lean toward the Level 3 Book Pack (which actually has a reading level in the range of 3.5-5.1). If you think that is too young, you could move into the 4/5 Book Pack, but I would do that with some hesitation as you want to encourage her to feel good about her reading without overwhelming her.

I’d recommend R & S English 4 at half-speed, Level 3 dictation, and the narration and writing skills planned in Preparing.

I would have her move on into Rod and Staff English 4 at half-speed, spreading each lesson out over 2 days. Then, I’d move onto dictation Level 3 (which is in the Appendix of Preparing). I would move away from Writing with Ease, as you’ll have too much duplication between that program and the writing across the curriculum we do in Preparing Hearts (through guided written narration, oral narration, and dictation). I would make sure to do the writing lessons from the poetry as scheduled in Preparing Hearts to build those writing skills that are not covered elsewhere in our guide or in Rod and Staff. She will also be getting quite a bit of writing instruction through Rod and Staff.

I’d further recommend Singapore 4A, the Deluxe Package of Books for the Newly Independent Reader, and the Science.

She can also move easily into Singapore 4A as that is scheduled in the Preparing Appendix. I would have her do the Deluxe Package with Preparing and the science too. These will be her independent areas and will do a great job of building independence incrementally. In looking down the road at the level of reading, written work, and independence required in CTC and RTR on up, I would definitely encourage you to spend a year heading through Preparing first with your daughter. The leap from completing 2/3 of Bigger and then jumping to CTC would be very huge (without having Preparing in between first).

Blessings,
Carrie

How can I help my daughter improve her illegible handwriting?

Dear Carrie

How can I help my daughter improve her illegible handwriting?

We are finishing Heart of Dakota’s Preparing Hearts for His Glory now. My daughter’s handwriting is horrible. She does not care about how it looks. Seriously, she writes so badly that you can’t read 1/3 of what she writes. Doing cursive on unlined paper is hard for her. Even doing the notebook pages on lined paper in the manual, it looks disgusting. I need something to get her to write neater. I’m thinking of getting another handwriting workbook for her to do over the summer. I guess I am just frustrated with her. How can I help my daughter improve her illegible handwriting?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Daughter Improve Her Illegible Handwriting”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Daughter Improve Her Illegible Handwriting,”

Your question struck a chord with me. So many kiddos struggle with exactly what you are mentioning with your own daughter. All kiddos have their weak areas. It is sounding like your little honey’s weak area is handwriting. One thing to ponder is that Charlotte Mason would say that neat handwriting is a habit, which needs to be worked on as all habits are, carefully and consistently one step at a time. With most kiddos who have poor handwriting, it’s important to note that as the volume of writing increases, handwriting that used to be passable at best become illegible at worst.

It will be most important to address her handwriting habits.

While it is a good idea to work on handwriting in short time increments over the summer, it will be more important to address the habits she’s formed with her handwriting during the school year. Likely, you should see some improvement in this area in the summer simply because it is one of the few or only subjects your child is working on, and she is probably doing very little work requiring handwriting during the rest of her day. However, during the school year it’s important to really weigh how poor the handwriting is and whether it is bordering or moving toward the illegible.

If her handwriting is illegible, I would have her do less, better.

If her handwriting truly is illegible, I would begin first by cutting back the amount she is writing (meaning you would neatly write the beginning part of the assignment for her), and then she would finish the last portion neatly. Charlotte Mason would say that a little done neatly is better than volumes done carelessly. Whatever is not done neatly would need to be redone. When a child isn’t writing as much, it is easier to have him or her redo what is done carelessly. Then, the habit of doing written work carefully can truly be honed.

Retraining of this habit will help her handwriting improve.

As your daughter improves in this area, she could take over more and more of the handwriting assignments herself. While this likely will feel like a backward step, it honestly is the retraining of a bad habit that has been allowed to form. I know this because I had it with my own son, prior to reading more deeply about Charlotte Mason. I did not go as far back as expecting perfection from him (and had I been more willing to devote more time to the retraining of this habit I should have), but I did lessen the amount he wrote and did require him to redo as needed. This helped my son immensely, and his quality finally improved.

Writing in a workbook is a crutch that doesn’t improve daily writing.

Honestly, continuing to write in a workbook is a crutch that will not improve written work in the day-to-day writing. Kiddos can perform it on the workbook page, and then continue their messy habits in all of their other written work. These are just my thoughts, after years of using workbooks for handwriting with my son and seeing little improvement.

Diligently working on handwriting overall as a habit in all areas of written work bit by bit makes the most impact.

Diligently working on handwriting overall as a habit in all areas of written work bit by bit made the most difference at our house. Also, if you feel that your child functions better with lines, you can easily assign your child to write on lined paper for the notebooking assignments. Then, she can cut that portion out and glue it on her notebook page. We did this in my public school teaching days all of the time. It makes each notebooking page customizable to fit exactly what the assignment requires.

Blessings,
Carrie

How can my son better comprehend Child’s History of the World?

Dear Carrie

How can I help my son better comprehend and enjoy Child’s History of the World?

Dear Carrie,

My 11 year old fifth grader is using Heart of Dakota‘s Preparing Hearts . He narrates Grandpa’s Box well, but he struggles to comprehend the reading of Child’s History of the World (CHOW) . The last time we read I had to go back and explain what was happening. He just can’t seem to follow it. I know many people rave about how easy and enjoyable CHOW is!  For this child, it just is not that way. We are hitting the section where there will be a lot of CHOW. I’m just not sure what to do. We’ve currently taken a break from it. He’s reading books he is able to engage with like Bound for Oregon. I’ve not heard or read anyone else having this particular struggle with this book. How can I help my son better comprehend and enjoy Child’s History of the World?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Son Better Comprehend and Enjoy Child’s History of the World”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Son Better Comprehend and Enjoy Child’s History of the World,”

I can see wanting your son to better comprehend and enjoy Child’s History of the World (CHOW). While CHOW is a narrative telling of history, it’s important to remember that it is still a telling of history (meaning it is full of names, dates, and places that really raise the reading/listening level of the text)! This means that CHOW is a much more difficult book than a narrative story like Bound for Oregon. Both have their purposes.

The difference between narrative historical fiction books and narrative nonfiction history spines.

Books like Bound for Oregon are historical fiction, with one character who you stay with throughout the book. This makes it very easy to stay with the storyline without much effort. Books like CHOW are filled with different “characters” and places from history every single day. They are much more work to listen to attentively and harder to narrate from, because you really have to have cultivated the habit of attention to be able to narrate from a book where the characters and places are always changing! This is the habit we must seek to cultivate. You can see, as I’m sharing about the differences between the two types of books, that they are fulfilling two different sets of skills. So, to neglect one or the other type of reading means that the child will then be missing a whole set of accompanying skills.

We are gradually working a child up in their reading/listening level with books like CHOW.

Readings like CHOW are more similar to what children will be reading in history and science texts as they progress through their academic subjects (even though CHOW is much more narrative than a typical text). CHOW forces a child to grow and stretch as needed to be able to handle more difficult readings in this vein with each successive year. We are gradually working a child up in their reading/listening level gently guide by guide with books like CHOW, rather than making a huge jump in these areas when the child hits high school. Incremental steps are always better than a big, huge leap forward in requirements!

We expect the readings/listenings in CHOW to be challenging, but you can use a markerboard to help.

So, with this in mind, just be encouraged that we actually expect the readings/listenings in CHOW to be challenging. We expect the child to slowly gain in this area throughout the year. So, what should you do to help your child? First of all, it is a good idea to list any major names and places on a markerboard before the reading and read them aloud to your child, having him repeat them after you. This is something Charlotte Mason herself advocated.

Your child can read CHOW on his own and use the markerboard as a reference as he narrates.

Next, as your child is in fifth grade, you can have him read CHOW on his own. If he can read Bound for Oregon on his own, he can read CHOW on his own. It is often true that children narrate better when they read something themselves. It is true for me too! As your son gets ready to narrate, have the markerboard there for him to refer to the names and places as he narrates. Don’t jump in and explain the text to him, no matter how much you want to (as this actually helps you understand the text better but also means you are doing the work of sifting and sorting the information to make meaning, which is the work we need him to do)!

You can do the Preparing guide’s follow-ups after reading, making sure not to give personal commentary.

Then, do the follow-ups in the Preparing guide. Don’t embellish or give a bunch of personal commentary. I know this is hard, as it is second nature for us to want to share our own connections or summarize for the child, but instead let the child share (even if it is very painful or very short). Otherwise, you are truly getting in between the child and the reading. If he cannot figure out an answer to a question in the Preparing guide, both of you should skim the reading for the answer and then you can run your finger under it and have him read just that brief part out loud. Often, kiddos feel they are not getting the “right” answer, so they no longer want to share. They would just rather wait for you to supply the answer. This is an alternative to that.

You can have him narrate after reading a few pages at a time, if need be.

If needed, you can have him narrate after he’s read a couple of pages. Then, have him read a couple more and pause and narrate again. If he shares anything, find a way to compliment him. Work to compliment his answers rather than asking for more information right now. Even a sentence or two is alright when you are learning a new skill. You could just respond, “Oooh that sounds interesting!” Or, “Really? I didn’t know that!” Or, “Wow, I had no idea that _____ (and then repeat back a bit of what he said)!” Or, “That sounds exciting!” Or, “I never knew that _____ (and share a bit of something he mentioned). Or, “Oh that makes me want to know more!” Or, “Now, you’ve got me wondering what will happen next. I’ll be interested to hear more about this as you keep reading!”

He is seeking your approval, and he needs to be able to share his own connections without worrying about being ‘wrong.’

It will come, but it won’t happen overnight. Right now he is in the stage where he is seeking your approval, trying to find the answer that you feel is “right”.  All children do this when the material is difficult. He has to learn the freedom to share his own thoughts and connections, as he grapples with difficult material, without worrying he’ll be wrong.

In Short…

So, in short, I’d go over the names and places on the markerboard before he reads (making sure he repeats them to you before starting so he has proper pronunciation). Next, he should read CHOW on his own, pausing every couple of pages to share a sentence or two narration about what he read. Compliment his sharing, whatever it is, and don’t ask for more right now. After reading a couple more pages, he should share again (just a couple sentence narration). Don’t prod for more – just compliment.

Last, do the follow-up in the guide. Don’t add to the follow-up with commentary, just do what is there. Help him skim for answers if needed. Run your finger under the answer for him in CHOW to read it aloud, but don’t answer for him. If he doesn’t share much, do not have him reread. Just keep moving forward each day, keeping the lessons short and sweet. You will see progress, but it will take up to 9 weeks. So, be patient! Just know the growing pains you are experiencing are expected, and you’re not alone.

Blessings,
Carrie

Update from “Ms. Please Help My Son Better Comprehend and Enjoy Child’s History of the World:”

Dear Carrie,

I wanted to let you know how it is going. I now only write a few names on the markerboard as I realized that a lot of the big/unfamiliar names have pronunciation keys right in the book. So, we just look over those before we start. He reads 2 pages (with me sitting right there) and then narrates what he has connected to in that section. He then goes on and reads the rest of the chapter and narrates again at the end.

I am excited and amazed that reading it this way, he is starting to connect with this book!!! He is picking up on the little funny things that Hillyer notes about the characters. For example, he got quite a kick out of Socrates’ wife dumping water on his head. He even got Socrates’ pithy little response, “After thunder, expect rain.” That’s amazing for him! I am thrilled that we have continued on with this and have found a way to help him read, enjoy and learn from CHOW. Thanks, again, Carrie, for your specific helps that have helped me approach this from a different perspective.

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Son Better Comprehend and Enjoy Child’s History of the World”

 

 

 

 

 

Extension Package: More Mature Reading, Follow-up Skills, and Assignments for Older Students

Dear Carrie

Is the Extension Package just an extra set of books, or does it include skills that are pertinent to students being older?

Dear Carrie,

I used Heart of Dakota and loved it! We then put our daughters in public school due to health problems. But, I’m excited to be returning! I looked at the placement chart. My daughters place best in Preparing Hearts for His Glory. My daughter, who is in 4th grade this year, is a very slow reader.  On the contrary, my daughter in 5th grade is a very advanced reader. However, due to the writing, both of them are not ready for Creation to Christ. So, I have placed them in Preparing Hearts for His Glory.  My question is about the Extension Package.  Is the Extension Package just a set of more books? If so, I probably will just let her choose other books on her own. Or, does the Extension Package include reading and assignments that are pertinent to her being a 5th grader?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Explain the Extension Package”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Explain the Extension Package,”

The Extension Packages are so much more than just extra books to read. I’m glad you asked!  If you have a child in the extension range, they are actually a needed part of the program. This is because I chose the books to show a different part of history or a different point of view than what is being covered elsewhere in the history study. The books are designed to deepen the study in this manner.

Older students in the extension package age range need to be reading their own history at a higher reading level.

The books are also intended for the student to be reading on his/her own in order to raise the reading level of the history material being studied by the older child. This is necessary in Preparing, because if you are still reading aloud the history as scheduled in the guide, an older child should also be reading his/her own history material.

Follow-up assignments are designed to address higher level skills for older students.

The oral narrations, written narrations, and notebook assignments are designed to address skills that an older student should be practicing and showing progress in due to their age level. These assignments aren’t meant to be optional for an older student. So, if you choose to forego the extension books for a child in the extension range of a program, you are missing the part of the program that makes it extend for that age level.

Extension package book are interesting, engaging, and enjoyable.

Finally, the extension books are also very interesting and engaging, and kiddos who do the extension books do truly enjoy them!  If you have a child in the extension range, you should plan for these books to be a daily part of Preparing Hearts as intended. Drawn into the Heart of Reading is the place to allow your daughter to read books of her own choosing. DITHR works with any books you choose and will work well in that capacity for your older daughter.

Blessings,

Carrie

P. S. To read more about Heart of Dakota, click here!