From Our House to Yours
Assigning Points to Encourage Accuracy in Following Directions
Following step-by-step directions is a skill our children will benefit from their entire lives. My sons have learned the importance of carefully following directions through using Heart of Dakota. They know they will finish their homeschooling on time if they don’t have to go back and do steps they’ve missed. Missed steps cause mistakes, and mistakes cause things not to to turn out well. Missed steps cause recipes to taste bad, experiments to flop, and projects to fail. These consequences of missing steps are natural motivators that encourage accuracy in following directions. However, what do you do with an older student who has been trained well to follow directions, but still often misses steps? Well, one way to motivate accuracy in following directions is by assigning points.
Assigning points in less routine subjects can encourage accuracy.
Today I was in a hurry to go to an appointment. I needed to quickly go over my son’s Missions to Modern Marvels Write with the Best assignment and leave. My son is in 8th grade. Thanks to all of his previous years in Heart of Dakota, he has learned to follow directions quite carefully. He does really well with step-by-step directions in ‘boxes’ of plans that are more constant. Timeline entries, written narrations, geography assignments, etc. are easy for him to do accurately because he does them every week. Even history projects and science experiments go well. However, writing assignments vary greatly. This is why this box is labeled “S” for semi-independent. I teach a part, and then he does a part independently. In these less routine subjects, assigning points can help improve accuracy.
Assigning Points in Write with the Best to Encourage Accuracy
So, today I first went through the directions for the Write with the Best assignment. We looked at our notes from the previous lesson to help. Then, I assigned points for each step of the mini-lesson in Write with the Best. This lesson was short, as it was just the introduction for a literary critique he was starting to write for a book of his choice. However, this assignment still had many things to be included. I could foresee me returning from my appointment to help him add things he’d missed. So, in the Write with the Best guide I underlined each step/instruction. Then, next to each step/instruction, I put 5 to signify 5 points. There were 5 steps/instructions. I told Emmett this assignment was worth 25 points. Anything he forgot to do we would do when I got back. Well, he did everything he was supposed to do! Accuracy – hooray!
This assigning of points can be done to motivate accuracy in any subject area. Heart of Dakota’s guides already include excellent guidelines in each box of plans. Each guideline can be awarded points. I just underline the step/direction directly in the guide and jot the points in the margin. Sometimes I do 10 points, sometimes I do 5 points. Sometimes I give an extra 5 or 10 points for writing neatly, etc., if that is something I want to encourage. I don’t do points all of the time for every subject. Rather, I do points rarely. I do points if I feel I’ve really done my part to help ensure accuracy, and now it’s their turn to show me they can do their part to strive for accuracy too. Or, I do points if I have an appointment to get to! I hope this helps give one way you can encourage accuracy!