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Thoughts on Shifting Things to Make Bigger Hearts 4 Days

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Dear Carrie

Would you recommend shifting certain things each day to make Bigger Hearts a 4 day a week schedule?

Dear Carrie,

I love the design of Heart of Dakota‘s guides!  The balance you planned in each 2-page spread of plans is genius. I started the first few units of Bigger Hearts half-speed. Now, we are taking our summer break. When we come back, we will start half-speed for a bit. Then, I was thinking about shifting things around to make Bigger Hearts a 4 day schedule. However, I have learned a lot from using Heart of Dakota for the past decade. I know you have reasons for every bit of how you plan things. Before I consider this, I wanted your take on what this would do to the intended balance of the plans you wrote. Thanks!


“Ms. Please Explain Your Thoughts on Shifting Things to Do Bigger Hearts in 4 Days”

Dear “Ms. Please Explain Your Thoughts on Shifting Things to Do Bigger Hearts in 4 Days,”

Thank you for sharing you’ve enjoyed using Heart of Dakota for over a decade!  As you ponder the pacing of your year, one thing to remember is that each guide is designed to have a daily workload that is appropriate for the skill level of your student. Each day of plans is written with a careful balance in mind of visual, kinesthetic, and auditory assignments. Creative and more structured assignments are also balanced within a school day. Also, the activities on the left side and even some from the right side of the guide are meant to intertwine together as written within a day of school to allow kiddos to make connections.

When you shift boxes around, you lose the carefully timed workload, balance of skills, and planned connections.

I share all of this to say that when you start shifting boxes around, you lose the carefully timed workload, lose the balance of skills, and lose the connections that are designed to happen effortlessly. To show you what I mean, I’ll share this example. Imagine that you are a classroom teacher in a Christian school. Each week you spend your entire weekend and many nights writing a week of plans for your class. You work to be sure that each activity has a special purpose in that particular day, bringing out things from the history reading or the Bible or science that you desire your kiddos to relate together.

Each time you shift the plans, cohesiveness and connections are lost.

As you arrive on Monday, you discover that there is a two hour assembly scheduled for Monday that you were unaware was taking place when you wrote the plans. So, you begin shifting the plans, trying to keep what was really important together (which you can do fairly well because you wrote the plans). Now, later in the week there is a fire drill, and the plans shift again. Later in the week the guidance counselor stops in to talk about playground troubles, and more shifting occurs. By the week’s end, how well do you think those original lesson plans are functioning? How cohesive are they at this point? You sigh, and hope the next week will be better.

Shifting each week means your kiddos can no longer just follow the two-page plans.

If you do this shifting every week with HOD, you can quickly see what is lost! No longer can your kiddos just follow the two-page spread and know when the boxes are checked off they are done. No longer do you view your school day that way either, as you are constantly trying to squeeze more into less time.   At that point, you are pretty much rewriting the plans in a way that they were not designed to be taught. When we talk to moms who have shifted too many things in the plans, we often discover that they are on different days of plans in so many areas that both they and their kiddos are completely confused as to where they really are.

Homeschooling is a journey with steady progress forward rather than a race to the finish line.

I share this not to discourage you, but rather to encourage you with some wisdom I’ve gained through the years. As we homeschool our kiddos, we have to ask what it is we are racing to do? Why must we approach schooling in a way that has us cramming more into fewer days? Homeschooling is a journey that goes on for many years. It is not a race to the finish line, but rather requires steady progress forward.

I’d recommend teaching a day within a day and simply setting aside the guide on your day off.

So, if you have a child in Bigger Hearts and you need a 4 day schedule, I would recommend teaching a day within in a day (once you work your way up to it from half-speed). On your day off, simply set the guide aside. Then, when you return to your school, pick the guide up where you left off and go forward. Once you get to Preparing Hearts on up, you will switch to a 4 day plan anyway, so why not give your family every chance to succeed with Bigger Hearts by using it the way it was written? You always want to leave your kiddos begging for more in the early years, rather than leaving them (and you) barely getting done.  Enjoy the younger years, where the school day isn’t so long, because it will get longer soon enough!

Blessings to you as you ponder,

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