Make the best of the time you have left before school begins.
Do you feel the lazy days of summer beginning to wane? Are you getting closer to the official start of the school year? If so, this week’s tip encourages you to make the best of the time you have left before school begins again.
Begin developing habits, setting routines, and doing some skill practice.
The end of summer is a terrific time to take a couple of weeks to ease into the school year. It is a time to begin developing habits, setting routines, and doing some skill practice. So, here are a few ideas for each of these areas!
What are few habits to begin developing?
Habits take awhile to form, so why not begin now before the busy school schedule begins? I will just mention a few habits we need to work on at our house. Hopefully, this will get you thinking about habits you could work on with your children. Maybe your children need to work on basic habits like teeth brushing or making their beds. Perhaps your kiddos need to set a regular wake time to get up each morning. Or, maybe your kiddos need to work toward getting to bed a bit earlier in preparation for school. It could be that the habit of first-time obedience has fallen by the wayside and needs to be picked up again. There are so many habits worth developing. Simply pick the ones that bother you most and begin!
Which routines are worth putting in place?
Routines help school move along much more quickly. It is worth taking a few moments before school begins to see if you have needed routines in place. I always take a few weeks to ponder my routines for things like laundry, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and chores. If I don’t have a good routine for each of these areas, our school day can quickly derail. Check your own routines in these areas to see if they need tweaking. It will be worth it once school begins!
How do I decide which skills are worth practicing?
Skill practice doesn’t have to be time-consuming to work! As you prepare for the school year, perhaps there are a few skills that it would be wise to begin practicing now. Skills like math fact practice can be done in a just a few minutes a day. It can be as easy as having your child whip through a set of flashcards or practice an online fact practice game. Typing is another area that benefits from a refresher. Typing Instructor is great for typing practice. We have our kiddos practice 10- 15 minutes a day in the summer. Sustained silent reading is another easy area to practice. We have our kiddos read silently for 30 minutes a day. They can read on their own or at bedtime. You can even join your children and read your own book silently as they read to be sure it gets done!
Pick and choose a few areas that need work.
Rather than trying to work on everything, pick a few areas that bother you the most. Begin with those areas first. Be sure not to overwhelm either you or your children with too much at once. Just pick a few key areas. You can always work on the other areas as school gets underway.
“The power of reading with perfect attention will not be gained by the child who is allowed to moon over his lessons. For this reason, reading lessons must be short; ten minutes or a quarter of an hour of fixed attention is enough for children of the ages we have in view, and a lesson of this length will enable a child to cover two or three pages of his book. The same rule as to the length of a lesson applies to children whose lessons are read to them because they are not yet able to read for themselves.”
(Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 1, p. 230)
“The habit of work, the power of work, rapidity in work, the set of the will to a given task, are ‘the making’ of man and woman; that the boy who has done the definite work necessary to pass a given examination is, other things being equal, worth twenty per cent more than he who has not been able to pull his forces together.” (Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 5, p. 180).
Summer is good time to work on keyboarding skills.
Summer is a wonderful time to work on skills that will help your child during the school year. One skill that we’ve worked on with our older kiddos during the summer is keyboarding.
How much time is needed to see progress?
It is amazing how much progress can be made with just 10-15 min. of steady practice each day. We set a timer and have our older boys practice typing Monday-Friday during the summer months.
What can you use to teach keyboarding?
We happen to use and enjoy Typing Instructor, but you can use any program that works well for your family. Just be sure that your kiddos are placing their fingers in the correct positions on the keyboard.
What are the benefits?
Strong keyboarding skills are a huge help during the school year as students type their essays and writing projects! Teach it this summer and reap the rewards when school rolls around again.
What are the roles of the parent and the student in homeschooling with Heart of Dakota?
Roles of the parent and student vary based on the student’s age, the assignment, and the guide. Little Hands to Heaventhrough Bigger Hearts for His Glory have younger target age ranges of 2-9 years old. In these guides, much of the work is teacher-directed or semi-independent. Starting with Preparing Hearts for His Glorythrough U.S. History II, assignments are designated as “T,” “S,” or “I.” This helps facilitate the progression of skills, so students successfully take on independent work. Gradually, from year to year, from guide to guide, students are preparing first for middle school work. Then, they are preparing for high school level work. Finally, they are preparing for college level work, should they so desire to go.
As they grow and mature, their role changes, and so does ours as their teacher. Charlotte Mason was an advocate of having students take on independence as soon as they were able. Heart of Dakota helps make this transition easier by planning for it in each guide. So, my focus of this From Our House to Yours is to show how HOD’s guides are designed to help parents and students with changing roles.
Why are the letters “T,” “S,”, and “I” part of the boxes in Heart of Dakota’s plans?
Parents and children can easily see what needs to be done each day in Heart of Dakota’s guides. Two-page plans with boxes for each part of the plans make it clear what needs to be accomplished daily. As students mature, HOD guides switch to a 4-day a week format. Boxes of plans begin to note whether assignments are intended to be “T” teacher-directed, “S” semi-independent, or “I” independent. This helps kiddos learn to take on independence gradually and successfully. Skills that were teacher-directed in one guide, move to be semi-independent in the next guide. Likewise, skills that were semi-independent in one guide, move to be more independent in the next guide.
How do the plans being designated as “T,” “S,” or “I” work help both parents and students?
The plans in HOD’s guides make it clear what each person’s role is in each assignment. So, the teacher is doing the reading and the leading for the “T” boxes. The student is doing the reading and the following of directions for the “I” boxes. Finally, the teacher and student share the tasks in the “S” boxes. I’ve found the “T” boxes to be such a help to me for my son who wants to do everything independently. For him, it is a good thing we have planned teacher-directed tasks, or he would do it all without me! In contrast, I’ve found the “I” boxes to be a help to me for my son who wants to do everything with me. For him it is a good thing we have planned independent work, or he wouldn’t do anything without me!
So, what is an example of parent and student roles in Creation to Christ?
In Creation to Christ, the parent still does the reading for the Storytime part of the plans. I chose the History Interest Set, and it has been amazing! So far, my favorite book has been Traveling the Way. This little gem of a book was probably one I would have passed on, if I’d only glanced at the cover. It just goes to show, you truly cannot judge a book by its cover! Anyway, we thoroughly enjoy this time together! My role is to read aloud the history interest book, and Emmett’s role is to listen carefully to the reading. After the reading, students move through the following rotation of follow-up skills in the plans…
give a detailed oral narration
rotate through the following 4 narration activities: an outline sketch, a short skit, a question and answer session, and an advertisement speech for the book
give a summary narration
make connections between the story and Proverbs
What is an example of parent and student roles in World Geography?
In World Geography, we both read Bob Schultz’s Practical Happiness on our own. We annotate separately, using different colored pens/pencils. Then, we meet to discuss the reading and our annotations. I love this time together! We have discussed so many timely subjects for a young teenage boy. My role as a parent is no longer to simply read aloud, but to help my son grow and develop into a strong Christian man. Pretty important roles for both of us! We enjoy sharing our opinions about the devotion, and we have drawn so close to one another because of it. It is easy to talk about our faith in the Lord because of this time together. I’m so glad for these roles this year for both of us!
Finally, what is an example of parent and student roles in U.S. History II?
In U.S. History II, Wyatt watches Dave Ramsey’s DVD on personal finance, answering questions as he watches. We meet together to discuss his answers and journal questions. My role is to share our family’s approach to spending, to saving, and to budgeting. I’ve shown him our monthly budget, as well as our checking and savings account. We’ve talked about how we set aside money each month for special things. We put homeschooling, new furniture, vacations, clothing, Christmas, birthdays, etc., in the category of being ‘special.’ Together we budget money for these special things ahead of time. Often times, we must work extra hours to save money for them as well. My role is to help my son develop his own budget, linking his earnings to his spending and saving. What an important role for each of us!
Changing roles for parent and student keep homeschooling fresh and exciting!
In conclusion, our roles as parents and students are ever changing as students mature. This is a necessary part of helping our children grow into responsible adults. The ‘T,’ ‘S,’ and ‘I’ part of the daily plans help both parents and students be successful with changing roles. This is one thing I have truly loved about using Heart of Dakota! From PreK through 12th grade, my role as a parent always bring fresh, new and exciting things to my day!
Likewise, my children look forward to the changes in their role as students from year to year. They value the independence they are able to take on, the say-so they are able to have, and the opinions they are able to express. They also value the time with me, as we are meeting for important reasons. Most of all, we both value the progress made – the encouragement and celebration that comes from children becoming successful young adults. What a privilege to be a part of!
P.S. To read more about encouraging your students to do the independent part of the plans on their own, click here!