Do your children visualize words on their “mental blackboards”?

Teaching Tip:

Do you have a child working on spelling or studied dictation?

Is your child working through the spelling lists in Beyond or Bigger Hearts? Or, is your child working through the studied dictation passages in the guides that come next? Either way, today’s teaching tip is for you!

Visualizing words on a mental blackboard is one key Charlotte Mason skill for spelling.

One of the skills we are working toward is for the child to be able to visualize words on his/her mental blackboard. Capturing the correct spelling of a word is much easier if the word really stands out in a way that the mind can quickly “capture.”

Using a black marker on a white surface helps the mind “capture” the word.

Whenever you have to write a word for your child to visualize, it is good to use a black marker on a white surface. This can be a black marker on a white index card like the spelling cards for Beyond or Bigger Hearts. Or, the same technique works for words you may desire your child to focus on within the dictation passages. These words can be written on a whiteboard with a black marker for the child to study prior to having the passage dictated.

Tracing difficult words using a black pencil on a white page helps students “capture” the word too.

Another technique that works is to have the child trace any difficult words within the dictation passage using his/her black pencil. Having the words outlined in black on the white page helps kiddos mentally “capture” the word too! Try these tips and see if they help your child with spelling and dictation. I know these tips have helped mine!

Carrie

Don’t interrupt the flow of the reading.

Teaching Tip:

What is a “living book”?

Heart of Dakota’s curriculum is full of living books. Each living book is typically written by a single author who is very passionate about his/her topic. These books stand out for their conversational, narrative style and their ability to make almost any subject come to life. Living books are read in smaller segments slowly over time to allow your students to “live” with the books.

As you read aloud a living book, don’t pause during the reading to explain or question.

In a Charlotte Mason style living book reading, it is important not to stop and explain or question during the reading. You may be tempted to define difficult words, explain what is happening, or question your child to be sure he/she is understanding. While you may think you’re helping your child comprehend better by doing these things, you really aren’t!

Interrupting the flow of the reading makes it more difficult for the child to comprehend and make connections.

Charlotte Mason says that stopping during a reading to explain or question actually interrupts the flow of the reading. This makes it more difficult for the child to comprehend and make his/her own connections. So, whenever you feel the urge to pause during the reading to “help” your child, resist the urge and read on!

Reading without interruption, helps develop the habit of attention.

As your child learns to attend to a single reading, your child will be developing the habit of attention. This is a much needed habit to cultivate and isn’t one that occurs naturally in all kiddos. Try making a point not to interrupt the reading and see if your child eventually begins to attend better. I know I have been pleasantly surprised with my own boys when I tried this essential step when reading aloud!

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: Want to see more reasons why we love living books at Heart of Dakota? Have a look at this blog post here!

Better Beloved Living Books Instead of Less Loved Dry Textbooks

Don’t skip the thought bubbles in the Singapore math textbook.

Teaching Tip:

With Singapore math, how do you know what to emphasize each day?

If you are using Singapore math, it can be a bit confusing sometimes to know what to emphasize. Typically there is one main concept for each day of plans. So, how do you decipher what that concept is? Here is one tip that we have found helpful.

Don’t skip the thought bubbles in the Singapore math textbook.

The “word bubbles” or “thinking bubbles” in each textbook lesson are very important. These bubbles are drawn next to children in the textbook to show what they are thinking. The children are sharing the thinking process your child is to go through as he/she solves the problems in the lesson. Many times this process is a bit different than the way you learned to do problems like these.

The Singapore method of thinking is found within the word bubbles.

It is worth the extra time it takes to decipher the process the thinking bubble is showing. This is because the Singapore method is “talked through” in the thinking bubble. So, read the thought bubbles aloud as you go over the textbook lesson with your child. Help your child discover the process being described in the bubble, and then apply it in the lesson’s problems.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the thought bubbles in the textbook, now is a good time to start!

So, if you haven’t been paying attention to the word or thought bubbles in the textbook up until now, you may want to start. I didn’t notice how important these were until we went up higher and higher in the Singapore Primary math levels. When my next little ones started Singapore though, I emphasized these from the beginning! Try it and see what a difference it makes over time.

Blessings,
Carrie

Are you doing the daily oral drill in Rod and Staff English?

Teaching Tip:

Are you doing the daily oral drill in Rod and Staff English?

If you’ve been neglecting the oral drill in English, I would encourage you start making it a part of your routine. The oral drill mainly begins in the Rod and Staff Teacher’s Guide in English 3. It is included in each guide after that. The drill reviews concepts that were taught previously. Its purpose is to cement new concepts and to keep old concepts fresh in your students’ minds.

Don’t skip the daily oral drill in Rod and Staff English.

The daily oral drill at the beginning of each lesson is truly an integral part of the lesson! It is a short daily drill that reaps big rewards. While you may be tempted to skip the oral drill, I would encourage you to think again! In the long run, the daily drill is time well-spent. Kiddos remember what they have learned much better simply due to the oral drill. It really makes a difference over time!

Try doing the daily oral drill at the beginning of your English lessons.

Give the oral drill a try. Don’t be surprised if your students can’t answer all of the oral drill right away. Be ready to help with a quick nudge if needed. Don’t drag the oral drill out, or turn it into a review lesson. Simply move through the drill giving hints and help as needed. See if you notice better retention in your students over time!

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: Want more tips on how to achieve success with Rod and Staff English? Have a look at this article:

How can you achieve success with Rod and Staff English?

Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together?

Teaching Tip: 

Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together?

Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together, when school and laundry seem to take up much of the day? I have trouble if I don’t have a plan in place for getting the evening meal on the table. So, here is my plan for avoiding the “what shall we have for dinner” panic!

Once a week, make a list of evening meals for each day of the upcoming week.

On Friday, I make a list of evening meals for the week. I list the days of the week on a sticky note. Then, I list the meal including side dishes for each day. I make the list in pencil, so I can change the day for the meal if needed. I always plan one easy meal my hubby or older sons can make for nights when I might be gone. It works best to make the list of meals for the week prior to making the grocery list.

Place all needed recipes for the week in an envelope attached to a kitchen cabinet.

I place all needed recipes for the week in an envelope attached to my kitchen cabinet. This way, I can easily refer to my recipes to see what to add to my grocery list. I also have easy access to the needed recipes as I am cooking or baking. As the week progresses, I love knowing that I have the ingredients for what I am planning to make! Even though it takes me a couple of hours on Friday afternoon, it is worth it to get organized for the week.

Place the list of meals on the refrigerator door.

I place the note with the list of meals for the week on the refrigerator door. This makes it easy for me to see what I am making each day. My boys also can easily see what is for dinner…which they love! This quick reference also helps me see what I could prepare ahead for the evening meal.

Lunch time is a great time to do a little dinner preparation.

My kiddos head outside for their recess after lunch. I find this to be a great time to get a bit of my dinner prep underway. If the evening meal has a crock pot part, I put it in during this time. If it isn’t a crock pot type meal, I might scrub potatoes or cut up needed veggies or fruit. Or, I might put ingredients in my bread maker or bake a batch of muffins during this time. I just make sure that the cooking prep doesn’t exceed my kiddos recess time. Otherwise, I find it hard to return to teaching after recess. By getting a bit of dinner prep out of the way, I have an easier time when the evening meal arrives.

Try planning ahead for a week and see what you think!

Planning ahead has become essential for me in feeding our family. As our 4 boys are growing, they are really getting to be big eaters! This makes the evening meal an important one in their eyes. Try planning ahead for a week and see if it helps you too!

Blessings,
Carrie

A streamlined lunch is a huge help in the homeschool day