Question: How do I spread out Beyond and Bigger, so my son does Preparing at 9 years old?
I am new to Heart of Dakota, and my oldest will be 6 next month. I’m fairly certain he places in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. He reads books like Frog and Toad with no help from me. I can read just about anything aloud to him. He does like pictures, but he can listen/read books with just a few pictures too. We read several “Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories” each night. He loves this and usually draws several pictures after the reading. I really love the look of the Emerging Reader’s Set for him. However, if he starts in this level, I’m afraid he may be missing phonics instruction. He also writes well – several sentences on his own as well as letters to other people. My other son is wiggly, but this son is not.
I was thinking of doing Beyond Little Hearts and Bigger Hearts over 3 years. This is because I’ve read some concerns about going into Preparing Hearts on the young end. It seems others for some reason don’t want to go into Preparing Hearts before a certain age/grade (like age 9 or 4th grade). I think it’s because of the maturity level. So, I guess he would not be able to go straight through. I don’t feel Little Hearts for His Glory is the right placement for him. So, if I can’t do Preparing with him at age 8, how should I slow down Beyond and Bigger to make them stretch out longer? Help!
Carrie’s Reply: First-born children often are accurately placed on the young side of the target age ranges.
As we’re looking at placement for your son, and thinking down the road, it’s good to know that Preparing has a target age range of 8-10 with extensions for ages 11-12. As we look at the target age range of the guide, you may find that those kiddos who come into the guide at the youngest age range are often first-born children who were just born ready to go. (This could be because the parent had the time to really sit and work with the child from an early age, since this was their first-born child). While this is not always true, it does seem to happen more often! Additionally, God seems to equip those first-born kiddos to lead! He often gifts them in a unique way, so they are self-starters. All of this, when combined with solid skills in the 3 R’s, makes these types of kiddos thrive at the youngest age range of the guides.
While Preparing Hearts does work well for 9 or 10 year olds, it also works well for 8 year olds who are appropriately placed.
I think you’ll also find that if you visit with others, those who feel a child “must” be 9 to do Preparing are usually not talking about their first-born. They are often families who are either new to Heart of Dakota and started a young child too high up in order to combine with an older sibling. Or, they may not have placed their 8 year old based on skill level and have come into Preparing unable to do what is asked. Or, they may have a struggling writer or reader. While Preparing does work well for 9 or 10 year olds, it also works for 8 year olds who are appropriately placed from the beginning. My own sister has had this situation with her two oldest boys, who have always come in on the youngest age range of the guides and excelled.
I would lean towards placing your 6 year old son in Beyond.
With this in mind, and with the skill level you’ve already shared that your son has in the 3R’s, I would lean toward placing him in Beyond. I’d go through all of the rest of his phonics using The Reading Lesson, prior to having him begin the Emerging Reader’s Set. However, I would plan on the Emerging Reader Set being his reading as you are going through Beyond. I think finishing up his phonics will not be a long process. The schedule for the Emerging Reader’s Set is in the Appendix of Beyond. It includes follow-up questions and narration prompts. I would do Math 1A/1B with the plans in Beyond. If he can handle full-speed, I see no reason to slow him down. Doing school 5 days a week at the Beyond level is very doable if a child is well-placed. I think you’ll have a great year!
You’ll be able to tell if you need to slow down at the start of Bigger Hearts.
When you get to Bigger Hearts if you need to slow down at the beginning, you’ll be able to tell. However, it might not be necessary to do so. I wouldn’t make a plan to formally slow down a guide. Usually, we only suggest that route if a child needs time to grow into the skills in the guide at the beginning for a bit, or if a family has multiple students and needs more time to work with a certain child (and then slowing down one child’s guide gives them this time).