Reading is not spelling

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“Accustom him from the first to shut his eyes and spell the word he has made. This is important. Reading is not spelling, nor is it necessary to spell in order to read well; but the good speller is the child whose eye is quick enough to take in the letters which compose it, in the act of reading off a word; and this is a habit to be acquired from the first: accustom him to see the letters in the word, and he will do so without effort.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 1, p. 203)

Stay with Bigger or switch to Beyond for a struggling third grader?

Dear Carrie

Should I keep my third grader who is struggling with reading and writing in Bigger Hearts, or place him in Beyond instead?

Dear Carrie,

I’m a mother of 5. My oldest is doing Creation to Christ. The next two are going half-speed in Little Hearts. My 2 year keeps me hopping, but it is my 8 year old who’s struggling. We are 3 weeks into Bigger Hearts. He’s a struggling reader. He also struggles with writing. During copywork, he leaves out words, writes letters previously mastered incorrectly, copies wrong letters, or leaves letters out. It’s time-consuming for me to sit with him. He has to erase, correct, and it’s still sloppy! He’s not doing the cursive or poetry copywork. He struggles with the Bible verse copywork, the science copywork, and the vocabulary words and definitions. I’m also helping him write the science and history notebooking. Will he just grow into this, or should I have placed him in Beyond? He’s in third grade though, and I don’t want him to get further behind.

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Stuggling Third Grader”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Struggling Third Grader,”

Struggling in two of the 3R’s is a challenge when doing Bigger. In looking down the road, I would be concerned that even if he manages to get through Bigger, by the time he gets to Preparing on up, I worry that each year will feel like an overwhelming task for both you and your son. In looking at the fact that he isn’t doing the cursive or copywork of the poem right now, I am also assuming that you might not be getting to the written part of DITHR either? Or, perhaps your son is doing the Emerging Reader’s Set?

The copywork and reading assignments are important preparatory work to be successful in the next guide.

Honestly, the copywork and reading assignments are going to be very important right now. They will help him gain needed confidence and practice in his areas of difficulty. With the workload feeling too heavy in Bigger, it is likely that you will end up downsizing or skipping things that your son will actually need in order to be successful in the next guide.

I’d recommend shifting him down to Heart of Dakota‘s Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.

So, my recommendation would be to shift him down to Beyond. Due to his age, I would keep Rod and Staff English 2 to do daily along with Beyond. I would make sure that he writes a small portion on paper each day for English to practice getting comfortable writing on paper. Since he’s on the upper end of the age range for Beyond, I would also be sure that he completes several lines of copywork of the poem from Beyond each day. He can strive to copy the entire poem by the end of the week.

I’d be sure to do either the Emerging Reader’s Set or DITHR each day.

Then, I would be sure to daily do the Emerging Reader’s Set (if that is where he is) or do DITHR. With DITHR, when you get there, you can do some writing for him at first. You can also write on a markerboard for him to copy on his paper later. Eventually, move toward having him do more of the writing in DITHR in preparation for Bigger.

Give your third grader the gift of time to mature into needed skills.

With boys, it is especially important to give them every chance to mature into the needed fine motor skills. I taught third grade for many years in the public school, and it was easy to tell which kiddos needed a bit more time to mature (and most often they were boys). So, give your little honey the gift of time to grow into needed skills. Don’t worry about adding to the science, as he will still get twice weekly science lessons in Beyond. Just worry about the 3R’s right now and gently ease him into those needed skills daily, along with all of the other excellent skills found within Beyond. Doing all of Beyond well, rather than randomly skipping things or downsizing within Bigger will help your son be more prepared for the next guide the following year.

Blessings,
Carrie

Four fun ways to encourage summer reading!

A Heart of Dakota Life

Four fun ways to encourage summer reading!

Summer is fast approaching, and we have found this is a wonderful time to read!  I like to encourage keeping up the habit of reading in the summer, but I also like to keep it fairly simple. Below I will share four fun ideas we have incorporated to encourage summer reading.

Tap into your Heart of Dakota personal library this summer!

One thing you will accumulate by homeschooling with Heart of Dakota is excellent literature.  Carrie has carefully chosen Charlotte Mason style living books for every subject area. Just as we like to reread favorite books as adults, I have found my children do as well. When my children were little, I only owned 3 or 4 Heart of Dakota guides and their accompanying books. So when the summer began, I set out all of the books we’d previously used. Then, I let them choose one by one any books they wanted to reread for fun. Of course, they could only read books from guides they’d already completed. We can’t spoil the next guide, can we?!? Once my children were older and I owned too many books to set out, we made a trip to our basement library shelves of HOD books.

Order from Heart of Dakota the Extension Package for the guide you just completed!

When we have just finished studying a time period together, I have found it such fun to order the Extension Package for the guide we just completed! If my children are mature enough and good enough readers to enjoy the Extension Package, I love for them to read them. I make sure not to expect any follow-up assignments to be done because it IS summer. However, I do find I still hear many impromptu oral narrations anyway! I like to put them in a basket in each child’s room. Then, they can read them at their leisure. For my children who are more sequential, I might give them a copy of the Extension Package books printed from the Internet or copied from the Heart of Dakota Catalog. Then, they can read them in the order they are listed, which is the chronological order they are planned in the guide.

Check out from the library the Emerging Reader’s Set supplemental titles!

If you have a child that just completed the Emerging Reader’s Set, why not check out from the library the supplemental titles? Carrie painstakingly chose supplemental titles of comparable reading levels and listed them by unit in your Emerging Reader’s Set schedule. These supplemental titles are a super way to keep the ball rolling for brand new readers! When we take a break from reading with newly independent readers, I find they often backtrack. This is why it is a great idea to enjoy the supplemental titles for the Emerging Reader’s Set!  Yes, the first ones will be easy, but that’s alright! Though we can read at a college level as adults, that doesn’t mean we want to read at that level for fun all the time! Our children enjoy reading at different levels other than their highest level too.

Get ahead in Drawn into the Heart of Reading by doing a few genres in the summer!

If there is one thing I love, it is that feeling of ‘getting ahead’ somehow! That is why I have often enjoyed doing 1-2 genres of Drawn into the Heart of Reading in the summer. I remember one summer in particular. Looking at the genres, I decided Adventure would be a wonderful genre for the summer!  For each of my sons, I chose a different Adventure book from their upcoming homeschool year of DITHOR books. Then, we did the kickoff up really big! I had the time!  Likewise, we did the final project up really big!  Again, why not? I had the time!  I remember actually burying pirate hats, pirate eye patches, and pirate swords in a tote in our garden. At the end of their treasure hunt, they got to dig up the tote. We even invited the cousins to be a part of it all!

I hope this gives you some ideas of how you can encourage your children to read this summer!  Give us a call at Heart of Dakota if you need help choosing a book pack to order – we love to help! We also love to think of children reading for the pure joy of it in the summer!

In Christ,

Julie

Why did you choose to carry The Reading Lesson and Reading Made Easy for phonics?

Dear Carrie

Why did Heart of Dakota choose to carry The Reading Lesson and Reading Made Easy for phonics?

Dear Carrie,

My daughter is 3 1/2 and loving Little Hands to Heaven! As I like to look ahead, I am currently researching phonics programs. I am looking at Reading Made Easy and The Reading Lesson. However, it is very difficult for me to decide what I want to use. This will be my first time teaching a child to read. I just don’t want to screw it up, lol! So, why did Heart of Dakota choose to carry The Reading Lesson and Reading Made Easy for phonics choices?

Sincerely.

“Ms. Please Explain Why You Chose the Phonics Programs You Did”

Dear “Ms. Please Explain Why You Chose the Phonics Programs You Did,”

When choosing Reading Made Easy and The Reading Lesson, we looked at SO many factors that affect how well a phonics program works. We also sorted through the many methodologies out there, although I’d seen and read much already about the various methodologies during my 11 years of being doused in a big variety of phonics programs during my public school teaching days!

Demanding a child’s fine motor skills to keep up with decoding skills can cause frustration.

I’ll be very up front in saying that if you are of the “writing as a way to learn to read” methodology or the “learn every phonics rule and drill it” methodology, then the two programs we carry will NOT suit you well. Then, you’d want to look at something like the Writing Road to Reading or the Orton-Gillingham method of phonics instruction instead. Our philosophy is that writing can actually come much later than reading. Demanding a child’s fine motor skills to keep up with the decoding skills needed to read can cause much frustration. Our own boys each read very early and wrote much later. Had I held them back, waiting for them to write each word as it was read (or learned), I would have made reading an overwhelming task at an early age.

We’ve discovered knowing some rules is beneficial, but using an eclectic approach to covering those rules works fine.

When teaching early readers, we’ve discovered that knowing some rules is beneficial. Using an eclectic approach to cover those rules works fine. Our experience is that not all children need to be able to recite every phonics rule in order to apply it. Many rules are just too tedious and have too many exceptions to be worth memorizing. For example, we used Alphabet Island for phonics/spelling with my first son. While the rule coverage was amazingly complete, little of the rules were retained. His learning to actually read didn’t come out of that experience. We had to use yet another program to teach that!

However, we do believe in giving a thorough treatment to phonics, rather than stopping as soon as kiddos are reading quite well. Programs such as 100 Easy Lessons drop kiddos off before phonics is finished, leaving a parent to fill a gap by finishing out phonics on their own (which can be done easily but requires some creativity).

We like that both phonics programs provide coverage that is complete enough without being tedious.

We chose Reading Made Easy and The Reading Lesson because we find the phonics coverage to be complete enough without being tedious. The combination of gentle introductions to the various rules applied right within the reading material gives kiddos an “I can do this” feeling. It gets them reading early in the lessons and keeps it entertaining without being overly flashy.

We like that both programs take into account children’s short attention spans and provide necessary reading material.

Both programs also work well with Heart of Dakota‘s Charlotte-Mason approach to short lessons that capitalize on kiddo’s short attention spans. Both programs provide stories right within the guide, having Teacher’s Guide and Student Book in one. This feature saves much time searching for developmentally appropriate books, since the reading material is already there.

We like that each phonics program focuses purely on phonics.

Each guide is just purely for phonics, rather than throwing in all sorts of other language arts skills too. This keeps the focus on learning to read and allows the parent to move more quickly or slowly through the program without feeling like they may be missing other skills if they change the pace. We’d used the Blue Book for LLATL with my oldest son early on and felt tied to its slow pace of learning to read due to the multiple other skills woven in the lessons. For that reason, we had to abandon it.

We like that both phonics programs transition well into the Emerging Reader’s Set.

Reading Made Easy and The Reading Lesson also transition very well into our Emerging Reader’s Set. This solves yet another difficult problem for parents. The question about what to do after phonics is easily answered by the HOD sequence from phonics program to Emerging Reader’s Set to independent reading using Drawn into the Heart of Reading.

We like that both phonics programs make teaching your child to read easy to do.

Reading Made Easy is more teacher intensive and The Reading Lesson is more open and go. Both make teaching your child to read something anyone can do, rather than requiring the parent to take a course first or wade through how much to do each day or how to pace the program.

We like that both phonics programs are highly recommended both by other homeschoolers and by reviewers.

Both of these programs come highly recommended by other homeschoolers and reviewers alike. Reading Made Easy is currently in Cathy Duffy’s Top Curriculum Picks. The Reading Lesson has won many awards as well. Both have been used to teach thousands of children to be good readers. My own mother (who was a first grade teacher for 25 years) really likes The Reading Lesson. She’s read it cover to cover and was surprised at how well laid out it is. She’s a tough critic! She also likes Reading Made Easy, but thinks The Reading Lesson could easily be used by anyone!

The teaching style of the parent is just as important as the learning style of a the child.

With all that being said, there are other good programs out there that work equally as well. The teaching style of the parent is just as important as the learning style of the child, when choosing a phonics program. If the parent is not inspired or doesn’t feel confident with their choice, then the phonics program most likely won’t get done.

We’ve discovered the best phonics program is the one that consistently gets done.

In the end, we’ve discovered that the best program is one that consistently gets done in the day-to-day. The two phonics options we offer make that possible. While many phonics programs are wonderfully in depth or very full content-wise, if they just sit on the shelf because they’re too overwhelming, the benefit is lost.

Parents often find the best phonics program is the second or third one they used.

I hope this gives you some good areas to ponder when choosing a phonics program for your situation. Interestingly enough, most parents find that their second or third phonics option worked best, after struggling with their first option. In truth this is largely due to the child just being more mature and more ready to read by then, and also due to the fact that the child has some phonics instruction under their belt to draw on when heading it a second or third round of phonics! For those parents who only used one phonics option, celebrate!! You are VERY blessed!

Blessings,
Carrie

Should I use the Emerging Reader’s Set and/or phonics for an advanced 5 year old reader?

Dear Carrie

Should I use the Emerging Reader’s Set along with a phonics program for my advanced 5 year old?

My 5 year old daughter is an advanced reader who tests at a 4.6 reading level. She taught herself to read and has never had formal phonics. Though she does a good job of figuring out words she’s familiar with and knows her letter sounds, she does not know any phonics rules. As I was reading The Reasons Behind HOD Choices, I realized that not giving my daughter formal phonics training and teaching her the rules could end up holding her back in reading eventually. I don’t want to do just phonics during Little Hearts for His Glory, as I think this will frustrate her. She is so excited to read! So, should I use the Emerging Reader’s Set and incorporate a phonics program to slowly teach my advanced reader the phonics rules? I also gave her the Primary Singapore placement test. She places in 1A and is ready for spelling.

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help with My Advanced Daughter’s Phonics and Reading Choices”

Dear “Ms. Please Help with My Advanced Daughter’s Phonics and Reading Choices,”

If your daughter is near to being 6, she could begin Heart of Dakota‘s Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory instead. However, she would also need to be good at sitting and listening to longer chapter-style books without pictures. Whether you use Little Hearts or Beyond, I think a run through Sound Bytes phonics would be a good way to go for her phonics instruction. You can view Sound Bytes here; just click and scroll to the bottom. Sound Bytes works well for kiddos who are already reading because it moves quickly and takes only a few months to complete the entire phonics sequence. The stories go from short and easy to harder as the kiddos move through the program. It hits all the needed phonics rules and makes sure kiddos have had exposure to them. It also addresses the rules as spelling helpers.

You can either start the Emerging Reader’s Set after completing Sound Bytes, or you can alternate them.

After your daughter moves through Sound Bytes, she could begin the Emerging Reader’s Set. Or, you could alternate between Sound Bytes and the Emerging Reader’s Set instead. You have a choice of Bibles in the Emerging Reader’s Set. I would begin with The Beginner’s Bible in the Emerging Reader’s Set, as the Early Reader’s Bible will be too easy for her.

You will need the Beyond Little Hearts guide for the ERS schedule, comprehension questions, math lessons, and spelling.

If you do go the Little Hearts route, be sure to get the Beyond guide for the needed daily schedule and questions for the Emerging Reader’s Set. You will also want the Beyond guide for the daily math lessons that go with 1A/1B and for the daily spelling lists as well. Since your daughter is advanced and reading well, she will be ready to do the spelling portion of Beyond too.

We can verify you previously purchased the Beyond guide when your order the rest of its Economy Package and still apply your package savings.

If you do get the Beyond guide, then the next year when you need the rest of the Economy Package that goes with Beyond, simply email us to let us know you bought the Beyond guide early to for the Emerging Reader’s Set, and you will still receive the Beyond package discount with your purchase. If you have more questions, let us know!

Blessings,
Carrie