‘Twas the Night Before Homeschooling – A Time Saving Tip

From Our House to Yours

‘Twas the Night Before Homeschooling – A Time Saving Tip

‘Twas the night before homeschooling, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring – not even a mouse! What does this have to do with your Heart of Dakota homeschooling and saving time? Well, the night before homeschooling provides the perfect opportunity to get ahead so you have more time to homeschool tomorrow! In today’s time saving tip, let’s see how ‘the night before’ can save you precious time the next day!

Prepping Breakfast the Night Before

In homeschooling, making breakfast is a daily occurrence. On our especially busy days, I like to prep breakfast the night before. One of my favorite recipes is overnight cinnamon rolls. At supper, I set the frozen dough out. Right before bed, I make these super simple cinnamon rolls. They rise overnight, and in the morning I pop these in the oven for 15 minutes and drizzle on some frosting. Voila! Breakfast is served! Overnight oatmeal and egg bakes save time too. Or, last night I just set out the nonperishable ingredients, measuring cups/spoons, and waffle maker for waffles. This morning, I could whip those waffles together in a snap! Setting the table the night before for breakfast the next day is another time saver. So, if you find you have more time at night than in the morning, try prepping your breakfast!

Setting Out Clothes the Night Before

If I know I have an especially busy day tomorrow, I set out my clothes the night before. I might even have my sons set out their clothes. When they were younger, they had trouble finding matching clothes. They would come downstairs to start homeschooling only to have to head back upstairs to change clothes so they matched (or so they had on clean clothes – boys need a little more help in this area). Setting their clothes out the night before helped save a lot of time in the morning! When they were tweens, I snapped pictures of sets of matching shorts and shirts. I hung these pictures in their closets. That way, they could check the pictures and be able to match their clothes themselves. This also saved time! (If you have a personal goal to try to exercise in the morning, setting out exercise clothes helps too!)

Showering or Bathing the Night Before

When I had babies or little children, I had an especially hard time getting to my shower in the mornings! Little ones wake up, and ‘homeschooling’ is ON! Moving my shower or bath to the night before helped save so much time the next day. Likewise, moving babies’ and little ones’ baths to the night before helps the next morning too. Finally, moving tweens’ and teens’ showers to the night before when a busy homeschool day is ahead helps. This need not be an every night occurrence, but if an especially busy day is ahead, it helps to move showering or bathing to the night before!

Setting Out Homeschool Books and Supplies the Night Before

For teenagers, setting out homeschool books and supplies the night before works well. I have a nephew (now graduated) who set out whatever he needed for the next homeschool day the night before. He had several blocks of work time, so he made several piles of books/resources. This saved much time as he moved from block to block of work time. He also said he liked how this helped him envision his homeschool day well. For little kiddos who have a work area you won’t be needing for something else in the morning, you can set up their things for them. (This won’t work if their work area is the kitchen table though!)

In Closing

If you find you have more time and energy at night, these ‘night before’ tips may save you some time the next day.  I have not done all of these all of the time I’ve homeschooled, but in certain stages of life, each tip has served me well. I hope some of these tips save you some time too!

In Christ,

Julie

‘Pop Back and Forth’ to Teach Multiple R & S English Levels Simultaneously

From Our House to Yours

‘Pop Back and Forth’ to Teach Multiple R & S English Levels Simultaneously

I thought I’d share how I teach multiple R & S English levels at one time! Emmett is using R & S English 5 in HOD’s Revival to Revolution, and Riley is using R & S English 8 in HOD’s USI high school. I like to have each sit at their own table in adjacent rooms, so they are not distracted by each other, but I can easily pop back and forth between them.  Emmett sits at the kitchen table, and Riley sits at the dining room table.

I start with the youngest studying his oral review questions and answers.

I start by having my younger son, Emmett, study his oral questions and answers in his R & S English teacher’s guide. He is a visual learner, and reading the questions and answers in print helps him better retain the information. Usually within a few minutes, he tells me he his ready. I then take away the guide and orally ask him the questions. He rarely misses any, but if he does, I have him study the teacher’s guide again. Then, I ask just the one he missed one more time. It is amazing to me how much better he does on reviews since we have been doing this!

I pop over to the oldest to do his oral review questions, while the youngest silently reads his lesson.

Emmett then silently reads his R & S English pupil text lesson. While Emmett is silently reading his lesson at the kitchen table, I call Riley to the dining room table. Riley studies his oral questions and answers in his R & S English teacher’s guide. When he says he is ready, I take away the teacher’s guide and orally ask him the questions. Just as I did with Emmett, if he misses any, I have him study again and ask that question one more time. After this, Riley reads his pupil text lesson silently at the dining room table.

I pop back to the youngest to orally do his lesson, while the oldest silently reads his lesson.

About this time, Emmett is done silently reading his lesson. So, I pop back to the kitchen table. We then work through the lesson together orally. I often have him take a few minutes to ‘study’ and ‘think through’ his answers for a section before asking him to orally answer. It is amazing how much better he does then! Emmett can rush and be a bit of a ‘blurter’ otherwise. Having him study a section and think through his answers prior to answering them orally has helped him go from answering many questions wrong to answering almost every question right! As we are working orally through the lesson, I look ahead and mentally note which written part I want to assign him to write the answers for in his notebook.

I pop back to the oldest to orally do his lesson, while the youngest writes the section I’ve assigned in his notebook.

We keep moving through the lesson orally until Riley calls out to say he’s done reading. If Emmett and I get to the section I want him to write before Riley calls out to me, I skip the section I want him to write, and finish out the rest orally. Whenever Riley calls out to let me know he is done reading though, I quickly finish the section Emmett and I are orally doing and then have Emmett do the written section I chose for him to write in his notebook. While Emmett is independently doing his assigned written section, I pop back over to Riley. We work through his lesson orally. Whenever Emmett calls out he is done with his written section, I quickly finish the section Riley and I are orally doing and then have Riley look ahead to choose a written section to do in his notebook.

I pop back to the youngest to correct his written work and orally finish his lesson, while the oldest does his written work, and then finish out orally with the oldest.

I pop back to the kitchen table. Using the teacher’s guide, I correct Emmett’s written work and assign a grade for it. We then work through any remaining questions orally. Emmett is done, so I pop back to Riley’s dining room table. I correct Riley’s written work and assign a grade for it. We then work through any remaining questions orally. Voila! Both are now done with grammar, and in a fraction of the time it used to take me to teach multiple levels!  Hooray!  I know it sounds chaotic to pop back and forth, but it isn’t.  It works great and is a real time saver! Maybe you’d like to give it a try!

In Christ,

Julie

 

 

How can you challenge your child to take a more active role in his learning?

Teaching Tip:

As your year progresses, are your children becoming more comfortable with their HOD guides?

As the school year progresses, I am reminded of a tip that is helpful as children get further along in their guides. This tip is especially targeted at students in Little Hearts for His Glory through Preparing Hearts for His Glory. As your kiddos travel through their guides, they will become comfortable with the patterns in their particular guides. They will begin to instinctively “know” what to do when they come to certain parts of their day. As your children’s comfort levels rise, they are ready for more of a challenge.

How can you challenge your child to take a more active role in his learning?

When your child seems comfortable with the guide, it is time to start letting him take a more active role in his learning. One easy way to do this is to allow your child to look at the daily plans and get out his own materials. Once your child excels at getting out his own materials, move on to letting your child read directions from the guide.

Allow your child to read directions right from the guide.

Allowing your child to read directions right from the guide helps him prepare for the learning coming that day. Reading directly from the guide is also great preparation for what is coming in future guides too. Future guides begin labeling boxes in the plans as ‘T’ = Teacher Directed, ‘S’ = Semi-Independent, and ‘I’ = Independent. As your child matures, the move toward more independence will be encouraged and expected.

Allowing your students to read directly from the guide has many benefits.

Reading directly from the guide allows students to become more self-propelled learners. It also allows students to take more responsibility and ownership for what they are learning! So, once your students are ready, start letting them read directly from the guide. Begin with only one or two boxes at a time. See what a change you notice as your children enjoy taking ownership of their learning.

With growing independence comes greater accountability.

Just be careful that you don’t let your children’s new ownership nudge you out of too many areas! It is still important to oversee and check each part of your children’s school work. Accountability becomes even more important with independence.

Blessings,
Carrie

Use a markerboard to ease writing frustrations in math!

Teaching Tip:

What is one way to ease writing frustrations?

Do your kiddos get frustrated or weary with writing? As the school year is underway, I am reminded of an important tool I use often to ease writing frustrations. We use a 9″ x 12″ dry-erase lapboard and dry erase marker regularly throughout our school day. Writing on a markerboard is a welcome change from writing with a pencil on paper. Lapboards are easy to erase and can be written on much larger than on regular paper. Using a lapboard also helps kiddos focus on a small portion of writing at a time.

How does using a markerboard help ease writing frustrations during math?

Think of some of the frustrations that come with math time. Rushing through problems, making silly mistakes, feeling overwhelmed with too many problems, and messy writing are frustrations that spring to mind. Using a markerboard and a dry erase marker to do the textbook problems can really help with many of the math frustrations. On a markerboard, kiddos can see the problem written larger and have more room to work. They get a break from using a pencil and are able to write larger. They can erase mistakes easily and focus on only one problem at a time. My boys love flashing the markerboard to me, so I can check it quickly. Then, they love erasing the markerboard in a flash after I tell them they have the problem right!

What other subjects work well on a markerboard?

Using a markerboard and a dry erase marker to diagram sentences can really help with grammar frustrations. Diagramming goes quickly on a markerboard, plus it is very visual representation! Having your child write spelling words or studied dictation passages on a markerboard works great too. Writing Drawn into the Heart of Reading responses on a markerboard for your child to copy later is another great use. Listing writing ideas as your child brainstorms them for writing sessions works well too. Writing a numbered lists of school tasks for your child to check off as he works independently is another way we use a markerboard.

Try using a markerboard to make writing more fun.

Once you begin thinking of ways to use a markerboard during your school day, you will find endless uses for it. So try this great tool today! See if it helps ease writing frustrations and make writing more fun at your house. I know it has at mine!

Blessings,

Carrie

Short on time? In a pinch, try these time saving tips!

From Our House to Yours

Short on time? Try these time saving tips!

Sometimes errands, appointments, and activities can make a day short on time. Or, even just an unexpected event (like the cleanup of an overturned lidless jelly jar dripping jelly down the entire back of the fridge). (BTW, I’d like to know who didn’t put the lid back on the jar?!? I have an idea.) Well, whatever the reason, if you find yourself short on time in your Heart of Dakota homeschool day, try these time saving tips!

Time Saving Tip #1 – Record Oral Narrations

If I am short on time, I have my children record their oral narrations. I find this works especially well if I have an appointment that is just for me. After they record their oral narrations, they text them to me. Then, I can listen to them as I am driving. Sometimes, I think they try even harder when recording themselves. They hear how they sound and want to do their best!  However, oral narrations usually are meant to have a (live) audience. So, I don’t make a habit of this, but if I’m short on time, it works great!

Time Saving Tip #2 – Do Grammar Orally

I love R & S English for its thorough and solid treatment of grammar! Really, I have seen the results, and it is so worth the time. However, when I am short on time, I do grammar orally instead. For diagramming, I quickly sketch the diagrams on a markerboard. To diagram orally, I have my kiddos just point to where they’d diagram each word as they say it. At one point, I was teaching 3 different grammar lessons a day. So, this was a real time saver if I was short on time!

Time Saving Tip #3 – Have Older Children Help

Each child has gifts from the Lord. If I am short on time, I call upon my older children’s gifts and talents! For example, my oldest son loves math. So, if I am short on time, I have him pop in and teach a lesson to one of my two other sons. He’s good at it, the children love it, and it saves me time! Likewise, if I am short on time, I have my middle son pop in to oversee a science experiment or to read aloud for Storytime. He enjoys helping in both of these ways, and he is good at it. I figure this is good training should they have their own homeschooled children someday. I think their wives might appreciate the help now and then!

Time Saving Tip #4 – Move Dictation or DITHOR

Dictation is planned 3 of the 4 days of the week. If I am short on time and it is a day dictation is planned, I move it to the day it’s not planned.  This way, we are still doing dictation 3 days a week, but it’s on a day I have more time. Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR) is also planned just 3 of the 4 days of the week (other than in Beyond and Bigger). So, DITHOR is another thing that can be moved to the day it’s not planned. Of course, the day I move it to will be longer then! However, I find that it is worth it to help on a day I’m truly short on time.

Time Saving Tip #5 – Make a Pile and Correct Work Later

I like to correct work that is completed right away if possible. This immediate feedback is good for kiddos, so I have what I call ‘margin‘ in our schedule for correcting. ‘Margin’ is just really extra time planned for each block of teaching/meeting time. If I am short on time and in a hurry, I drop the ‘margin’ time from our schedule. Instead, I have the kiddos make a pile on the kitchen counter of what needs to be corrected. I ask them to have the work open to the page that needs correcting, along with the guide on top. Each child creates his own pile. So, when I get home, I can quickly correct each pile.

Time Saving Tip #6 – Use a Markerboard

I love the questions that are planned in the guides. One of my favorite ways to assess how my kiddos are doing is simply to enjoy the discussion questions that are planned. However, if I am short on time, I have my kiddos answer the questions by jotting short phrases on a markerboard. Then, I either quickly ask them the questions, having them refer to their markerboards as they answer, or I just have them leave their markerboards out for me to skim their answers later.

Time Saving Tip #7 – Have a Go-To Meal Kiddos Can Fix

Many times I can get my teaching done, but I have to leave for an appointment around lunch. Teaching my kiddos to fix at least one meal on their own really helps! My go-to meal when the kiddos were little was simply cereal with milk and toast. As they got older, my go-to meal was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with applesauce cups. Now that they are much older, they can fix many meals. However, my go-to meal is frozen pizza in our toaster oven. The oven shuts off on its own, so I don’t have to worry about them accidentally leaving it on. This time saving tip gets me out the door and to my appointment on time!

In Christ,

Julie