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How to Grow into Working More Independently

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Dear Carrie

How to Grow into Working More Independently 

We are beginning Heart of Dakota’s  Bigger Hearts tomorrow with my 11 year-old daughter. We are returning to it, as my daughter wasn’t ready for it last year. Even though my daughter is not reading much independently because of dyslexia, I’d like to help her grow independence while working in the guide. Do you have any suggestions for that? I was thinking about letting her read the history and science (with help if needed). Then, she could pencil a check mark in each box of the plans in the guide as she completes it. That would help her to see exactly what needs to be completed on a daily basis. This will teach consistency and help her to be diligent to finish what is required. Or, is that not a good idea? I guess my question is, how do I help her grow into more independence in Bigger Hearts?


“Ms. Please Help My 11 Year-Old Grow in Independence”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My 11 Year-Old Grow in Independence,”

Thanks for sharing about your daughter! The history and science readings in Bigger are typically meant to be done by the parent, unless the child is aged 9 or above, is a good reader, and is able to read the assigned pages easily on his/her own. Since your little sweetie has had some struggles in the area of reading, I would steer away from having her read any of her own history or science at this point. I wouldn’t push her to alternate reading with you either. Right now, she just needs to grow in the other skills that come along with Bigger, and she needs to learn to enjoy the guide.

I wouldn’t put undue pressure (on either her or you) to go beyond what the guide asks.

Starting right will make a huge difference in her perception of the guide!  Eventually, after she hits the halfway point through the guide, you can evaluate again. However, for now, I wouldn’t put undue pressure on either you or her to go beyond what the guide asks, as Bigger is written for the parent to read to the child.  Of course, it’s alright to lead a child in the direction of doing more on his/her own if the child has regularly been moving through the HOD guides and seems ready for more. However, upon just returning to Bigger, I’d be thinking that doing the guide as written will already be more your daughter has been used to recently, so I wouldn’t be quick to push her more on top of that.

Gradual Ways She Can Grow in Independence

Eventually, you can have her grow in independence by beginning to get her books out and find page numbers. Then, you can have her start getting out needed supplies she notices she might need. Later, she could start reading a box of directions on her own. But these things can wait until she starts showing some interest in them. Right now, reading is probably an overwhelming code that feels unbreakable, and tons of text on a page (like in the guide) would feel stressful. Just be sure she knows the guide is yours and you’ll read to her from it. In Preparing, she will start being responsible for two boxes only, so she will grow into that in a year’s time.

Simply settling in and teaching the guide as written will help your daughter grow too!

If she is accurately placed, then don’t push her to go beyond that right now. Simply settle in and teach the guide as written. Put your blinders on as far as the age range on the guide goes, and teach the child rather than the grade level. You will see her grow and progress as you journey! Learning is a process that just takes time. My best advice would be to teach her where she is right now, rather than where you want her to be. This is a lesson that I have learned the hard way! May The Lord richly bless you and your sweet daughter!


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. sonya hoxit

    Thankyou for this! I also have an eleven year old Dyslexic daughter. Actually, I also have three more Dyslexic children. Their ages are 14, 9, and 7. What kind of advice do you have for me? Thankyou so much in advance.

    1. Hi Sonya! There are many levels of dyslexia. For children who are mildly dyslexic, the guides can largely be done as written, but the child may just be doing a guide slightly younger than their age level. For severely dyslexic children, there are two schools of thought. One, back the child up in guides quite a bit using an easier guide, so he/she can still be more responsible for the reading. Or, two, place the child in a guide according to his/her age but then plan on the parent doing the bulk of the reading aloud. The second option is more time intensive for the parent, so the amount of time the parent has available is important to weigh. Audible.com or audio books can help ease the amount of reading for some of the books. There are also options for how many books/packages are used each year. We have had – and continue to have – many children who are dyslexic successfully using Heart of Dakota with one of these two approaches. Hope this helps!

      In Christ,

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