Summer is a great time for audio books!

Teaching Tip:

Summer is a great time for audio books!

Are your days stretching long with time to fill for your kiddos? Or, are your days filled with car trips and vacations? Are you beating the summer heat by staying indoors close to the air conditioner? No matter what your summer looks like, audio books are a great way to pass the time!

Listening to audios builds auditory skills.

Would you consider yourself to be an auditory learner? Or, are you more of a visual learner? Then again, perhaps you learn more easily by doing. Not everyone is strong in auditory learning, yet it is often an important way to learn! This means auditory skills are worth building. No matter what your child’s preferred learning style, as your kiddos listen to audio books they build auditory skills.

Do audio books only work for auditory learners?

Of course, auditory learners will enjoy audio books more. Since it is their preferred style of learning, auditory learners will listen to almost anything! However, all learners can enjoy audio books if you find the type that suits their listening style.

Try different types!

Try different types of audio books to find your child’s style. Perhaps your child would enjoy a dramatized version or one that is performed radio-style. Audios with background music, multiple voices and performers, and sound effects may have more of an appeal. Often the narrator’s voice makes a difference as to how easy it is to listen to and understand an audio book. The genre makes a difference too! Maybe your child loves mysteries, fantasies, humorous books, or nonfiction.

Set aside time to listen each day.

To enjoy the audio book, set aside 20-30 minutes each day for your child to listen. We encourage our boys to listen while they are playing quietly, or drawing, or modeling, or riding in the car, or laying in their beds. As with any book, it can take time and continuity to get “into” a book. If your child gets hooked, he/she may want to listen much longer!

Try audios this summer and see what you think!

Try a variety of audios with your child, and see if you can hook your listener. If you do, you will be building important auditory skills in an effortless way! Plus, it’s just plain fun to get lost in a good book!


Let the design of the HOD guide help you keep your day in balance.

Teaching Tip: 

Let the design of the HOD guide help you keep your day in balance.

My tip this week has to do with the design of our guides. Each guide is designed in a way that is meant to help you keep your days in balance.

The boxes in the guide work together to create a balance of skills each day.

Each box in the HOD guide has a specific pattern it follows each week. Each box also has a certain set of skills it is meant to help your child gain. The boxes work together to create a balance of skills each day. The boxes also work together to utilize a variety of learning styles across the day.

Following the daily plans lets the design of the guide work for you.

My tip then is to encourage you to follow the HOD plans by doing a day of plans within a day. This means striving not to shift boxes to a different day. It also means not grouping multiple days of the same boxes together on a single day or skipping boxes. While this seems like such a simple tip, you will truly reap huge benefits if you let the design of the guides do the work for you. This is because the design of the guides automatically sets a routine in place each day. This routine focuses on a balance of skills daily and hits all the learning styles daily.

When you tweak a guide, you remove the pattern and balance of skills and learning styles.

Often, when you tweak an HOD guide, you are removing the patterns that lead to independence. Tweaking also shifts the balance of skills that keep a child from frustration. Last, tweaking affects or omits the variety of learning styles that keep each day fresh without you even realizing it.

Try using the guides as written and see if your day feels more balanced.

I encourage you to try using the guides as written. You may be surprised over time to find that your child is happier and so are you!


Our guides take advantage of the beginning of the school year” enthusiasm!

Teaching Tip:

Our guides take advantage of “beginning-of-the-school-year” enthusiasm!

If you are considering placing your child in one of our guides, here is a tip that is good to know. I planned each guide to take advantage of the enthusiasm the start of a new school year brings. So, at the start of a new guide, we really hit the skills hard and build on them incrementally throughout the year. This means the first week of plans is a good indicator of how difficult a guide is overall.

Rather than beginning with review, our guides jump in and get going right away!

Rather than starting with review, and beginning with easy things, our guides jump right in and get going right away. The benefit of this approach is that kiddos can work on mastering the skills in our guides all year long. This approach is good for the parent too, as you can see where you need your student to be by the time the guide ends.

Time spent training your students during the first week is time well-spent.

During the first week, it is helpful to spend some time training students in what the guide is asking. Since each guide has a definite pattern and repeating set of skills, time spent training students to complete the guide successfully is time well-spent.

As students discover the pattern of a guide, the guide takes less time.

As students begin to sense the pattern of a guide, they get into a rhythm. Things begin to fall into place. As the year progresses, students are able to complete their work in less time. As students master needed skills, the quality of their work improves too.

If your start to the year is rocky, hang in there!

If your start to a new guide is rocky, just hang in there! It should get better as you go. Your children should seem to thrive more as time passes. It is how the guides are designed to work! If for some reason your children continue to be overwhelmed in a guide, it may be time to rethink their placement.


Summer is a great time to encourage reading!

Teaching Tip:

Summer is a great time to encourage reading!

While it is important to take time off during the school year, summer is a great time to encourage reading. The long, lazy days of summer just beg for you to curl up with an ice cold glass of lemonade or iced tea and a book!

How can you encourage your children to read this summer?

One way to encourage your children to read this summer is by example. If you read this summer, and your children see you reading, they will be encouraged to read! One way we have done this at our house is to set aside time as a family to read.

Have a family “reading time.”

Last summer, we set aside 30 minutes in the evenings after dinner as family “reading time.” We gathered together in our living room with our individual books and read silently. We set the timer, and when it rang… we were done. At the end of reading time, sometimes a few family members shared something about what they’d read. But mostly, we just read. We enjoyed this time so much as a family that we carried it into our school year!

These days we steadily get to reading time about 4-5 nights a week. Sometimes the boys don’t want to take time out of their busy schedules to read. Yet, when we do take time to read, all of us seem to end up enjoying it. My husband and I really look forward to reading time. I finished several books this year I never would have found time to read had it not been for reading time!

What types of books will tempt your children to read this summer?

Summer seems to be a time for a different kind of reading. If you’ve ever walked through a book store in the summer, you will notice tables of books labeled “beach reads.” These are books that are easy to read on a beach or outdoors somewhere. They often are absorbing books you can take breaks from, return to, and easily be caught up in again. Books like this also work well for the family “reading time” I described above. Sometimes “beach reads” have a lighter, more carefree feel to them. Other times they have a brisk and thrilling pace. Overall, they are enjoyable, easy to read, and have simpler phrasing and diction. They are books that are just less work to read.

Series books work well for summer reading.

Summer can be a great time for series books. Series books often have the “beach read” feel. They have simpler phrasing and diction, have similar plots, follow a definite pattern, and require much less work to read because you already know the characters. Plus, if your child gets invested in a series, he/she can just keep on reading from one book to the next. Of course, not all series books are good. Many are not. So, you’ll have to use discernment to discover the series books that are acceptable for your family.

Take time to cultivate the habit of summer reading.

Time spent cultivating the habit of summer reading is time well spent. We’ve discovered our children curled up reading on the couch, reading in their beds, reading in the bath, and reading late at night. They started a book during “reading time” and just had to know what happened next! Try a family reading time and see what you think. Who knows, you may find yourself burning the midnight oil to find out what happens next in your book too!


Make an effort to be fully present during school time.

Teaching Tip:

Make an effort to be fully present during school time.

During school time with my kiddos, I am often reminded how important it is for me to be “fully present.” If I don’t make a conscious effort to focus on my kids, I can easily be distracted. The telephone, computer, people at the door, cooking tasks, laundry, texting, errands, or a million tasks can divide my attention. When I am doing all these tasks while schooling, my boys are continually waiting on me. This means their school day (and mine) drags on longer than it should!

Try to minimize interruptions and limit outside tasks during school time.

So, I am reminded anew to try to minimize interruptions and limit my tasks to a time when I am not teaching. Depending on the ages of your students, you can do this in several ways.

For younger students, try alternating school time with breaks.

If your students are young, you can alternate a half hour of school with a half hour break. Simply continue this alternating pattern until the school subjects are done for the day. This pattern alternates chunks of school time with chunks of free time. We followed this plan for years when our boys were young, so we know it works. Just be sure to return to school after each half hour break!

For older students, try focused teaching hours.

If your students are older, and their school day is longer, you can focus your teaching time during certain hours. At our house, we typically teach from 9 A.M. – 1 P.M. With this plan, the kiddos often have school left in the afternoon, but my formal teaching is done by 1 PM. I simply schedule more independent subjects for my boys to complete after 1:00 PM.

The last few years, our older boys have done several school subjects in the evening to “get ahead.” They always do independent subjects that would typically be done after lunch the next day. Working ahead helps them finish by 1:00 PM the next day, which they prefer. Doing several subjects in the evening is another option to help your children get done earlier.

Or, try a scheduled mid-day break before returning to school.

One other scenario we tried in the past was to take a scheduled mid-day break. One year we took a scheduled break from 1:00-3:30 PM. This allowed me to deal with many things that needed my attention before it got too late in the day. We then returned to school from 3:30-5:30 PM. This was a plan that worked for a year, but I must admit it was hard to return to school at 3:30!

It is amazing what can be accomplished in a short time if you are fully present.

I am amazed what I can get done in a very short time with my boys if I am “fully present.” While this is not always possible, I encourage you to see with a new light any time stealers that really can wait. Strive to be mentally and physically present as much as possible during school time. If emergencies and situations that need to be dealt with occur, return to the pattern of being fully present as soon as possible. I am trying to focus on being fully present and am finding new joy in the time I do have with my boys!