Summer is good time to work on keyboarding

Teaching Tip

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.

Blessings,
Carrie

Do the high school guides incrementally build in skill level?

Dear Carrie

Do the high school guides incrementally build in skill level as you go up?

I’m a homeschool mom of five, and I’ve loved using Heart of Dakota since 2010!  I am wondering if the high school guides are pretty much written at a certain skill level? Or, do they continue to progressively build in skill level as you go up? I’m curious if they incrementally build like the younger guides, where one guide prepares the student for the next guide in line. Or, are they written to be done in any order, with approximately the same level of reading and writing skills in each? Obviously this wouldn’t apply to the math portion, as that would have to build up in a certain way. However, I’m wondering about the rest of the guide. No matter what, we’ll be using Heart of Dakota, but I’m just curious! Thanks in advance, Carrie!

Sincerely,
“Ms. Curious About Whether the High School Guides Build Incrementally”

Dear “Ms. Curious About Whether the High School Guides Build Incrementally,”

This is a good question! Like the younger guides, the high school guides do build incrementally upon the skills from the previous guides. So, as you progress through high school the level of the skills increase as do the type of skills. Some skills also bow out while others rise to replace them.

Though it is best to move through the guides in sequence, it is still key to place students where they fit best according to the placement chart.

The best path through Heart of Dakota (HOD) is definitely in sequence if at all possible. However, we do know that some families coming to HOD from another curriculum may have to borrow from upper guides (or possibly even lower guides) to put together their needed high school credits. It is still key to place students where they fit best according to the placement chart though. If students are well-placed in a lower guide and are not able to complete all of the high school guides prior to graduating, they will still be receiving a strong education that meets them where they are and incrementally moves them forward.

You will see a range of ages using each of the high school guides.

Of course, all of the guides are suitable for a range of ages, and the high school guides are no exception. So, you will definitely see a range of ages using each of the high school guides. In the comments for the World Geography section of our catalog, there are comments from 15, 16, and 18 year-olds (all of who successfully used the World Geography Guide with some modifications in math and science). I hope this can be an encouragement to you as your oldest enters high school!

Blessings,
Carrie

Is answering questions an important skill? Or, can we replace it with narrating?

Dear Carrie

If my daughter narrates better than she answers questions, should I focus on improving her skill of properly answering questions, or should I let her narrate instead?

We are reading Tornado from the Emerging Reader’s Set. I’ll ask my daughter the follow up questions, and she will often not know the answers. She’ll ask if she can narrate instead. Then, she’ll give a beautiful oral narration. She’s like this with Bible too. She can almost never answer the questions in Bigger Hearts for His Glory‘s Bible study. She does have auditory processing and visual perception issues. I don’t know if that could be at play. So, if my daughter narrates better than she answers questions, should I let her narrate instead?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Decide If I Should Let Her Narrate or Focus on the Skill of Answering Questions Better”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Decide If I Should Let Her Narrate or Focus on the Skill of Answering Questions Better,”

Let me begin by saying it is wonderful that your daughter is able to narrate well! I’ll also share that it isn’t uncommon for kiddos to have an inclination toward either narrations or answering questions. This is because each type of assignment appeals to a different type of learner and requires a different thought process. Questions often have the expectation of one right answer, whereas narration allows kiddos to choose to share what they took from the story and focus on that. Narration is more open-ended. Both types of assignments are important to do, as different skills are learned.

Some learners prefer to answer questions with one right answer, while other learners prefer to give more open-ended narrations.

So, as we look at learners who are more comfortable in knowing exactly what to do and how to do it, and who thrive on one right answer, we can see that questions will appeal to these types of children. On the other hand, as we look at kiddos who are more free-flowing through their day, who do not like to be restricted, and who enjoy creativity, we can see that narrations will appeal to these types of children.

If children struggle with answering questions, you can let them know the questions prior to reading.

In looking at the challenges the questions are providing for your daughter, it would help for your child to know the questions prior to reading. Just be aware that sharing the questions prior to reading, will put your child’s focus wholly on finding the answers to those questions as she reads. So, if you shift gears and then ask her to narrate after reading she may be lost.

As children move through Heart of Dakota’s guides, they eventually improve and learn to work well within their weaker area.

Usually as kiddos travel through Heart of Dakota, they eventually get to the point where they learn to work within their weaker area well. This means that kiddos that weren’t born narrators can learn to narrate well. Likewise, kiddos who have a tough time answering questions can learn to excel in that area too. It just takes time, often years! So, be encouraged that while a processing disorder may definitely play a role in how quickly a child progresses in a weak area, all kiddos will have some struggles in any area that does not come naturally to their learning and personality style. As always, when we are pondering a child’s learning progress, it is hard to know where an actual disorder ends and where the diversity of a “typical” childhood personality or learning-style begins.

Blessings,

Carrie

Composition is…an integral part of their education

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“Children in this Form (ages 9-12) have a wider range of reading, a more fertile field of thought, and more delightful subjects for composition. They write their little essays themselves (referring to written narration), and for the accuracy of their knowledge and justice of their expression, why ‘still the wonder grows’. They’ll describe their favorite scene from ‘The Tempest’ or ‘Woodstock’. They write to ‘tell’ stories from work set in Plutarch or Shakespeare or tell of the events of the day. They narrate from English, French, and General History, from the Old and New Testament, from ‘Stories from the History of Rome’, from Bullfinch’s ‘Age of Fable’, from, for example, Goldsmith’s or Wordsworth’s poems, from ‘The Heroe’s [sic] of Asgard’: in fact, Composition is not an adjunct but an integral part of their education in every subject.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M., Vol. 6, p. 192)

Dictation skills help in many areas of your child’s schooling!

Teaching Tip:

Dictation skills help in many areas of your child’s schooling!

One of my absolute favorite Charlotte Mason-style teaching strategies is the way she uses studied dictation. This is because studied dictation encompasses so many skills within a short session.

What skills are included within a studied dictation lesson?

Before the dictating begins, studying the passage first encourages students to picture correct spelling and punctuation on their mental blackboards. As the passage is dictated, students hone their auditory and verbal skills as they listen and repeat the passage before writing. Correcting their own passage by checking it against a correctly written model practices proofreading skills. Immediately fixing any mistakes means errors in spelling take less root in the child’s mind. Repeating a missed passage once daily until it is written correctly helps students replace an incorrect model with a correct model in their mind. Through the studied dictation process, your children are learning spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills too.

How can you help your children carry dictation skills over into their written work?

Once your children are making progress in dictation, it is time to begin helping them carry these skills over to their written work. One easy way to help students do this is to begin having them read aloud to you anything they write for school. As they read aloud what they have written, they will begin to catch some very noticeable mistakes. These obvious mistakes usually include missing words, double words, or very long run-on sentences with no punctuation. As students read aloud their written work, it is important that you are next to them with your pencil in hand. As they read, gently point out a few things to add. Often these things include missing words, periods, capital letters, commas, and question marks.

How can you address incorrect spelling in written work?

After your child has read aloud his written work, go back and write in pencil the correct spelling above any word that needs fixing. Then, have your child erase the incorrect word, copy your correct spelling in its place, and then erase your word (leaving a clean copy). If you do this regularly, your child will start to notice errors more and more on his own.

Proofreading takes training.

Proofreading takes training, just like anything else. It doesn’t happen naturally. One side note of this process is that you may see the volume of your child’s writing decline for awhile. This is alright, as it is honestly better to produce less quantity that is well-done than volumes written poorly. So, try having your child read aloud his writing today, and let the training begin!

Blessings,

Carrie