In the area of history, you'll notice that our programs begin with the Bible and then move into early American history. We believe that it is important to start with the Bible first and foremost, since it is truly the beginning of all history. Little Hearts for His Glory gives a broad overview of history from Creation through present day, and emphasizes God's plan throughout history. Overall, children learn a great deal of Bible history and U.S. history with brief introductions to a few other people and events.
Next, Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory and Bigger Hearts for His Glory move into American history for several reasons. After having our oldest son move through the time periods chronologically from the Ancients to the present, we found that we would have preferred to wait to discuss myths, legends, other gods, and pagan cultures until he was older and more ready for these concepts. We also found the study of the early time periods was often filled with weighty topics, barbaric behavior, and many stories of cruelty. Even in watered down fashion these don't seem to be appropriate topics for young children.
Instead, we want our young children to be inspired by stories of American heroes. We want to lead them to see God's providence in the history of our nation. Since the ancient times are so far removed from the world that we live in today, it seems more logical to begin our study with the patriotic heritage that surrounds us daily. By reading history stories, students can enter the past and see it come to life.
Along with the history stories, we wanted to incorporate hands-on activities. While kinesthetic learners especially benefit from this type of learning, all children enjoy variation in their day. Before you say that you aren't up to hands-on activities, you should know that all of our activities are written to be quick, educational, safe, and easy to clean up, and require only items you readily have on hand. Bible study, devotions, poetry and rhymes, music, (and in the upper mid-elementary programs) narration, timeline, notebooking, research, and geography activities are also integrated with the history stories.
With Preparing Hearts for His Glory, we move into a one-year overview of world history. This shows students that the flow of history is really one continuous story. It gives them some "mental pegs" on which to hang information later when they will take an in-depth look at the various time periods.
The next guide, Creation to Christ, takes a deeper look at the ancient time period by weaving Biblical history with secular history. Our newest guide, Resurrection to Reformation, focuses on the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation. The two program guides scheduled for release after Resurrection to Reformation will continue to break history into chronological time periods, starting with the Age of Exploration and finishing up with the Modern Times.
For science, we want our young children to see the world as a fascinating miracle, rather than as a dry body of facts to be memorized. So, you'll see that our programs for the early years focus on hands-on activities and experiments to help children appreciate the wonder of God's Creation.
In Little Hearts for His Glory and Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory the science activities are linked to additional reading in a Christian Liberty science text. The goal is for children to be reminded of how amazing our Creator is and to learn to see His handiwork all around us. The connections between text and activity are at times loosely made in order to keep a hands-on science approach linked to a God-honoring text.
As children get older, and their attention span grows, so does their thirst for knowledge. To encourage that desire, once children reach Bigger Hearts for His Glory, science becomes a daily subject. It is structured around brief, daily reading assignments from a handful of fascinating biographies and living books.
At this stage, it is easy to skip hands-on lessons or to get bogged down in complex experiments and explanations. So, our programs include hands-on science activities once or twice each week that will excite your young scientist, without requiring additional preparation or planning from you. The activities are linked with the daily science readings.
All of our science activities are written to be quick, educational, and safe, involve few directions, and require only items you readily have on hand. They have the added benefit of being written for your little scientist to complete with minimal help from you. This saves you from having to "take over" dangerous or complicated parts of an experiment. It also guards against your science activities becoming a demonstration that you end up doing while your child watches. We also include notebooking assignments, questions, and narration practice in coordination with the science readings.
The area of Language Arts includes oral language, handwriting, spelling, writing, grammar, mechanics, usage, and vocabulary. Many people place reading or literature study under the language arts umbrella as well. In homeschooling our own sons, we found that if we weren't careful the area of language arts could either become a workbook nightmare or end up requiring hours of teaching time every school day. Either way, it took up a large portion of the precious school day.
To address these concerns, you will find that our programs use a systematic approach to language arts. By rotating the teaching time for each area, the time spent daily on language arts, is greatly reduced.
For oral language, students memorize and recite weekly Scripture verses. They also learn to narrate or tell back what they've heard or read. Choral reading rhymes or poetry each week focuses on another area of oral language practice. For handwriting, students work on copywork daily. For spelling, students focus on learning to spell a basic body of frequently used words. Next, they move on to studied dictation to cement their spelling skills.
As students become more confident spellers, they are guided to complete short, purposeful writing assignments. For the purpose of improving writing, students begin to receive a solid introduction to grammar, mechanics, and usage. Vocabulary study is addressed in our literature program and later along with our history and science topics.
Once your child is able to read independently there is a temptation to do one of the following two things: A) Send them off to read endlessly on their own with little or no accountability. B) Add so many activities or questions to the study of literature that there is no room left to actually enjoy reading the book.
So, our programs are written with the overall goal of gaining an appreciation of different types of literature. Short lessons and assignments foster understanding of the basic story elements without dissecting the text too far. Story discussions encourage shared enthusiasm for the story's plot. Narration practice solidifies understanding. And most importantly, weighing the character's actions in light of the Bible guides children to learn to read with discernment.
At Heart of Dakota, we love literature and all of its variety. However, we carefully screen thousands of books before choosing the quality literature we recommend in our programs. We look for books that will inspire or entertain without bringing in questionable content. Whenever possible, we try to include books that emphasize Godly character traits or that bring a historical time period to life. As an added benefit, just in case you may not always agree with our literature selections, many of our programs allow you to select your own literature for use with our guides.
Math can either be an area of great frustration or of great joy. We have had both experiences in our homeschool. With our own children, we want math in the early years to be an enjoyable experience that fosters an "I can do this" attitude. It is so important to lay a solid foundation for later math concepts without overwhelming the student.
It is also easy to go into overdrive with a mathematically gifted child without looking further down the road. It's important to use care not to overburden any child with too quick of a pace or with endless problems, until his/her enthusiasm eventually wanes or the understanding is lost in the shuffle.
Another concern is that many programs require so much teacher presentation time for math that if you have multiple students you could spend hours just presenting math lessons every day. We do enjoy teaching math at our house, but is that much presentation really necessary?
Our programs are written to balance quick, hands-on lessons with short written assignments. Together, these provide a firm foundation in mathematical thinking, without overwhelming the student or the teacher. As students move out of the primary years, the textbook replaces the hands-on learning, moving students from concrete to pictorial lessons instead. This allows students to visualize each concept prior to practicing it in their workbook. Short lessons also encourage more focused attention from the student which results in fewer mistakes and less reteaching.
And finally, we come to the most important area in our programs: Bible study. While homeschooling our first son, we found it too easy to place Bible into one time slot and study it as a separate "subject". This made the Bible seem to be of equal importance as all of the other academic subjects. We want our children to know that the Bible is special and that it's more important than anything else. To do that, we realized the Bible needed to be integrated throughout our day as much as possible.
Our programs weave God's word throughout our readings, our poetry, our history, our science, our writing, our music, our study of English, and our memory work. Using this method, our children are reminded to measure their thoughts, words, and deeds all throughout the day with God's word. Our programs also have a daily Bible study time, which we pray will train our children in the habit of seeking God's word daily.
In the hustle and bustle of the school day, it is easy to forget that our most important goal is to help our children glorify God with their lives each day. Our programs strive to be a daily reminder of that goal. Glorifying God is the only goal that matters for eternity.[top of page]