How much “together time” is beneficial?

Teaching Tip: 

How much “together time” is beneficial?

In my last teaching tip, I mentioned how we can always be assured of plenty of “together time” in a homeschooling setting! One thing to weigh is how much “together time” is truly beneficial? Often as homeschool teachers, we default into thinking that anything done together is better. Often we think that knowledge shared in a group is better, because it is shared.

How do you learn best?

Think through the way that you learn best. Would you say that the “group experience” is the only way or the best way for you to learn? I know for me this isn’t necessarily true.

Be specific in choosing which experiences are shared.

This is why it is important to be specific in choosing which experiences are shared and which ones are individual. Sometimes experiences are shared only between teacher and one student.

What kind of experiences are best done one-on-one?

Personal/private sharing is best done one-on-one. Difficult subjects are best done one-on-one. Subjects that require concentrated attention are best done with few interruptions.

Make a conscious choice about how to handle each subject.

Try making a conscious choice about which subjects are best as a group experience and which subjects are best one-on-one. This specific choosing will make each subject more meaningful. It will also help each subject be better suited to your students’ needs! Try make conscious choices today, and see if your school day goes more smoothly!

Blessings,
Carrie

Does your child have an easy-to-follow schedule that can be seen at a glance?

Teaching Tip 

Does your child have an easy-to-follow schedule that can be seen at a glance?

Do you love schedules or loathe them?  Either way, there is one helpful item that we have found our students need.  It is a list of subjects in the order the subjects “ideally” should be completed each day.  Without such a schedule, the child remains completely dependent on you to dictate the day.

A schedule doesn’t need to be fancy.

This listing of subjects can be hand-written or typed.  It is helpful to use the subject names from the boxes in the Heart of Dakota guide.  It also helps to note a time allotment behind each subject.  This way the students have some idea of how long the subject is expected to take.  On our list I also include the room of our house where I expect the child to complete the subject. I write start and end times next to each subject (but this part of the list is purely optional).

You can use the same list all year!

We use the same list all year. We place the list in a plastic page protector.  Each day our students check off each subject with a dry erase marker.  At day’s end, they use a dry eraser to clear the schedule for use again the next day.

Freedom comes when the order of subjects remains basically the same.

Keeping the subjects in the same basic order each day really pays off in setting a routine. Your student will come to expect which subject comes next, saving both of you time.  The actual time on the clock when each subject occurs is less important than the routine.  Even if the time of day at which you complete those subjects varies from day-to-day… the order remains the same. Try making a simple, easy-to-follow schedule for your child and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

Please Explain How to Set Up a Routine Instead of a Schedule

Try a mid-morning checkpoint for your older students

Teaching Tip

Try a mid-morning checkpoint for your older students.

Do you have any students in the guides from Creation to Christ on up?  If so, it is very helpful to schedule a 30-45 min. mid-morning checkpoint to meet individually with your student.

What do you do during the mid-morning meeting?

During this mid-morning meeting, I go over any work that the student has completed.  We fix and correct the work as we go over it.  I ask any questions noted in the corresponding boxes in the guide. I also have my student read aloud any written narrations or give any oral narrations scheduled for that day.  After we go over each completed box, I check it off in the guide and read aloud the key idea.

How do you close the mid-morning meeting?

At the end of the meeting, I do one of the ‘T’ boxes (such as Biblical worldview, composer study, art appreciation, devotional Bible study, composition, grammar, poetry, etc.) These ‘T’ box titles vary from guide to guide. For high school students, I go over ‘S’ boxes instead, as often there are not many ‘T’ boxes.  I end the meeting by quickly pointing out the unchecked boxes that are left to complete.  I clarify and give any guidance on those boxes, so my student understands what is left to be done.

What is the purpose of having checkpoints? 

The mid-morning checkpoint helps keep me on top of my student’s day.  It helps ensure my child does not fall far behind.  Later, while my boys are eating lunch, I check any work completed since the mid-morning checkpoint.  The checkpoint after lunch shows me whether my child has completed all needed work.  It also points out whether I need to briefly meet with my student after lunch to make additional corrections.  Then, I can have the child put any checked worked and corresponding materials away.

Try a mid-morning checkpoint with your student. 

If you don’t have checkpoints in your day for your older students, you may want to consider adding these in to your day!  Try it and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

Reading the guide’s “Introduction” is great preparation for the school year

Teaching Tip

Reading the guide’s “Introduction” is great preparation for the school year.

You may be beginning to turn your thoughts toward school. One of the best ways to prepare for the upcoming year is to read through your HOD guide’s “Introduction.” There is such a wealth of information in the “Introduction” that we should truly title it something else!

How does reading the “Introduction” help prepare you for the year?

The “Introduction” will give you a feel for how each area is handled in the guide and the goals for each subject. It will let you know what notebooks, binders, etc. are needed for each subject area. Reading the “Introduction” provides a great summary of what to expect for the coming year. The “Introduction” is the last part of the guide we write. In this way, we can be sure that it truly summarizes needed information for you in one place!

If you have students in different HOD guides, read only one guide’s “Introduction” each day.

If you will be teaching more than one Heart of Dakota guide, read the “Introduction” for different guides on different days. This will help you focus on one guide at a time and will keep you from getting overwhelmed.

Can you use the guide without reading the “Introduction?”

Of course you can skip reading the “Introduction” and just jump right in and teach. However, often when families do this they miss the big picture of the guide. They also miss out on some gems that are referred to in the “Introduction” and included in the Appendix.

So, let’s get started!

After more than 15 years of homeschooling my boys with HOD, I still read the “Introduction” at the start of my school year! So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, cuddle up with your highlighter, and read away. Just reading the “Introduction” will make you feel more prepared!

Blessings,
Carrie

Top Ten Tips for Teaching Multiple Guides

The way you handle breakfast sets the tone for your day

Teaching Tip

The way you handle breakfast sets the tone for your day.

As the school year is approaching, it is good to consider how you are going to handle breakfast. Since breakfast is often the start of the school day, it can really affect how your day begins! We’ve tried a variety of things through the years for breakfast in hopes of a smooth start to our day.

What are some possible ways to do breakfast?

To get you thinking of possible options, I’ll share two very different ways that we have approached breakfast. One way is the simple, stagger-start breakfast. The other way is the more involved, family-style breakfast. We have used both ways through the years. Each has been successful in its season!

What is an example of a simple, stagger-start breakfast?

On this breakfast plan, we alternated oatmeal and scrambled eggs. These two simple options are easy to use when stagger-starting your eating times. While this is not rocket science, I will share why this works well.

First, oatmeal can be made and left on the stove on warm in a big kettle. It is quite forgiving as to when it is eaten. So, once it was made, my older kiddos could eat it when their day began bright and early. My younger kiddos could eat it when they wandered down later. We also had yogurt and fresh fruit on oatmeal days.

On scrambled egg day, we simply had each child crack one or two eggs in a cereal bowl. They stirred the eggs with a fork and placed them in the microwave. In our microwave, it took 45 seconds for 1 egg and 1 min. 15 seconds for two. Once the eggs were done, our kiddos added either a bit of cheese or salt. This was another easy hot breakfast that could be made individually as the kiddos were ready. We added toast with peanut butter and half a banana to the meal on egg day.

These simple breakfasts gave my older boys a hot meal right away. It also allowed them to get started on their work when the house was quiet. Last, it provided a hot breakfast right away for my little ones.

What is an example of a more involved, family-style breakfast?

The second way is a more involved, family-style breakfast. This is the way we do breakfast now. We returned to this type of breakfast after my husband took over breakfast preparation. He is a morning person, and I am not, so I was thrilled for him to do breakfast! With five “men” in our household, bigger breakfasts became a necessity.

Our breakfast also has the new feature of needing to be grain-free, gluten-free, low refined sugar, and restricted dairy. So now, we do the following:

Monday: almond flour pancakes and fruit

Tuesday: eggs and sausage patties

Wednesday: blueberry waffles with fruit

Thursday: eggs with bacon

Friday: smoothies with grain-free granola

My husband begins breakfast prep around 8:35. He actually sets up his breakfast equipment the night before. The boys all sit down together for breakfast at 9:00. The older boys have already gotten more than an hour of school in by then. Yet, they opt to wait to eat. They love eating together with the other boys and enjoy the bigger breakfast! My husband actually sets the timer, and breakfast is done in 20-25 minutes.

Consider how you could streamline your breakfasts.

While you may not love these particular choices, maybe they will get you thinking of how you could streamline your breakfast. How can you get your kiddos going in the morning without all of the production that breakfast can bring?

Think about whether you want to eat breakfast together or whether stagger-starting would work better.

Since we all sit down together for both lunch and our evening meal, these are our family together times. For me, this means breakfast can be either family-style or stagger-started. Ponder your breakfast, and consider how you could gain a good start to your day. See what works for you in the approaching school season!

Blessings,
Carrie

Tired and Overwhelmed Young Homeschool Mom Asking for Help