Reasons to Combine and Reasons to Separate
Do you combine two children in one Heart of Dakota (HOD) guide? If you do, maybe it is going great! Maybe you are loving combining, and maybe the kids are thriving. However, maybe you are a planner. You like to look ahead, and you are beginning to wonder if combining will always be a good idea. Hmmm…
Or, maybe you find yourself in a different situation. Maybe you started this year combining your children, but you are now seriously wondering if you should have. You are not loving it, and one or both of the kids are not thriving. Hmmm…
Or, maybe you find yourself in still another situation. Maybe you started this year not combining your children, and now you wish you had. Hmmm…
How do you know what to do?
So, how do you know what to do? Well, pray first. Always! The Lord is faithful and will answer in His time. I might add, there is no need to pray in a panicky sort of way. By homeschooling with HOD, you are already homeschooling in a Christ-centered, God honoring way. Any time spent in any guide is time well spent. So, take the pressure off. Just pray and ponder it a bit, and as you do, here are a few things to consider.
Possible Good Reasons to Keep Combining
1: The two children love working together and both are thriving. Hooray!
2: The younger child is advanced, and the older child is more average or slightly behind.
3: The two children have a loving working relationship, and they support one another without unhealthy competition or enabling.
4: You have a large family and would be teaching more than 4 complete HOD guides (and many of the guides are younger, teacher intensive guides) at once. If this is the case, we’d more than likely suggest combining somewhere or combining several pairs of students.
5: You or your children have health concerns, budget concerns, job concerns, or other things in life that make combining absolutely necessary. Homeschooling is a marathon, not a race. So, we need to be able to change our plans when the Lord shows us we need to do so to keep going.
Possible Good Reasons to Separate
1: The younger child can’t do the writing planned in the guide. You find yourself turning everything that was meant to be written work into oral work.
2: The younger child can’t do the reading planned in the guide. You find yourself turning everything that was meant to be read independently by the child into a read-aloud read by either you or by the older student. (This includes the reading aloud of “I” history and science books. It is important kiddos take this on themselves to be prepared for middle school and eventually high school, and it impacts their comprehension and writing abilities.)
3: The younger child can’t keep up with the level of independence planned in the guide. You are parked by the younger child’s side helping with “I” independent assignments with an overly long school day each day.
4: The older child is ready for more and is being held back just to be paired with a younger sibling. This older child is nearing upper middle school and is ready for more and is potentially planning to eventually attend a 4-year college.
5: The two siblings are not getting along, have a poor working relationship, or one feels constantly over-shadowed by the other (this can go either way, as a younger can surpass an older sometimes).
The truth of the matter is some children happily never combine, some children happily remain combined the entire way through, and some children happily combine for a time but then happily separate for a time or forever. Each family’s situation is different, and things can change over time. The blessing is there are many combining, separating, and pacing options with HOD! You need not feel tied to one option forever.
I also want to mention, while it is good to occasionally ponder and reflect, it is not healthy to always do so. There can be joy in the ‘now!’ No homeschool year will be perfect. If you are trying combining, give it some real time. If you are trying separating, give it some real time. You must have made that decision at the start thinking it was best for some reason. I have used HOD for 20 years, and I still go into a new year knowing my best days are ahead. About two months or so into the guide, happy times are here, and they continue to year-end.